Notes from the Field: One Way to Connect


“I grew up without any role models, and we did not know how to go about doing something like this. The white schools have these organizations, but no township schools do. I watched the adults around me and do not want to repeat the same things. I want to do something else with my life, something more meaningful that can contribute to my community. LEAPSA can be that.”

Zonke, a LEAP alumna and third-year university student said those words to me in between our brainstorming sessions during a three-day retreat for LEAPSA (LEAP Student Association—the misleading name for the LEAP alumni network), to which six Teach with Africa fellows were invited.

It would be impossible for me to list all of the ideas and goals that we wrote down on the board. My personal notes amounted to six single-spaced pages. I cannot capture the patience, open-mindedness, and perseverance that the group showed, even in heated discussions. Words fail to convey the energy in every song, dance, conversation, smile, and handshake. I am glad to have been there, to witness the formation of this powerful organization from the start, and to be part of the conversation.

I walked away from the retreat inspired and invigorated.

For any teacher reading this, or anyone else who might be interested, the opportunities are almost endless in connecting and learning from this group of impressive young adults. They are eager to learn about the world and other cultures, for their own thirst of knowledge and because they know that such learning is accessible through programs like Teach with Africa.

A correspondence with LEAPSA will enrich any curriculum and can connect students in other countries with the human beings who are making real impacts in these South African communities.

If you are interested or know of someone who might be, please contact me directly at Steve [@] omprakash [.] org

Steve Le, 2010 Teach with Africa fellow, is an English teacher and the co-director of the Service Learning program at Pacific Ridge School, in Carlsbad, CA.

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