Week 3 Summer Fellows

 
Summer Fellows Relax

Summer Fellows relax with an overview of Cape Town

After our week at camp and weekend wine tasting and hiking around Cape Point, we were anxiously looking forward to the resumption of school at LEAP. The week took different directions for team members and, therefore, my report will be quite general in regards to the activities of the group and more specific in regards to mine. I assume you are getting individual reports from team members. Monday morning began with a meeting at LEAP with the TWA team, John Gilmour, Fozia, and Bonisile.

The focus was the allocation of tasks for the week. I think the meeting went well and the team was pleased with their assignments.We were then taken on a student lead tour of LEAP 1 & 2. Next we went to community meetings at both schools, specially convened to welcome us. Once again the students were wonderful, regaling us with song and dance. After lunch we had the opportunity to meet staff members and made connections for class visits. The remainder of the day was devoted to classroom observations.

The team continued classroom observations on Tuesday morning with a few doing some teaching. I met with John Gilmour to further define my tasks. We decided my general focus would be computer instruction, lab activities, and the use of technology in classrooms. This week John wanted me to help set up the container computer lab in Langa and meeting with Edunova (http://www.edunova.org), a non-profit organization working with the Western Cape Education Department on teaching technology skills to teachers to integrate into their classrooms I spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon visiting computer classes, meeting the instructors and familiarizing myself with the curriculum. In the afternoon I joined the MBA students in a meeting with Mark Allen (the chief financial officer?). He gave a very succinct overview of LEAP; their mission, fund raising efforts and plans for expansion. There were a number of areas identified where the TWA team could offer their expertise and Mark was very open to their assistance. That evening we met with Zainab at the B&B for group reflection and discussion. Wednesday morning Bonisile took the entire team to Langa. Our first stop was Siyabulela Primary School where we met with a panel of teachers who presented an overview of the school their specific roles. We then we split up among different teachers. I went with the technology teacher to see his classroom. I noticed he had a SMART Board (interactive white board connected to the computer) and LCD projector and asked how he used it. He said he didn’t because he didn’t know how. He explained that there are four classrooms set up with the equipment, donated by an organization six months ago, and none of them are used because no one knew how they operated. I said I would be happy to show him and he immediately took me up on my offer. We set up three afternoons workshop for the coming week to train the staff. The team then went to the study center and saw the container the where computer lab is to be set up. From there we went next door to visit the pensioner’s home. We heard about the issues facing the center and pensioners and how much they were looking forward to LEAP taking over the administration. I then left the group and went to the Edunova offices. I thought I was going to meet the director but he was busy preparing for a principals conference this past weekend. I did meet with two staff members. We a good discussion about the scope of their work and the successes and challenges they face. I’m planning to meet the director this week. On the way back I stopped at Imbosa Primary School in Crossroads, met the Edunova lab supervisor and set up an appointment for a visit next Tuesday.  On Thursday morning John Gilmour drove the team to Kalkfontaine to meet Joyce, a community organizer, and tour the township. John explained on the way how impoverished and dysfunctional the township is. We met at Joyce’s brick factory. She is a remarkable person with an inspiring story. She moved to the area nine years ago from the Eastern Cape. She came with a deeply ingrained hatred for white people, born from watching her father beaten by police when she was three and reinforced by the brutality she faced growing up under apartheid.. Her relationship with John and LEAP changes these feelings dramatically so today she embraces all humanity. As she told her story a number of other people from the community joined us. They, too, were community organizers and local business people. The discussion quickly turned to how the MBA student could help by teaching entrepreneurial skills.The locals jumped at this opportunity and an initial training session was organized for Tuesday. Sitting there in the hot African sun, surrounded by passionate, caring people, the importance of Teach with Africa became very real to me. It was the highlight of my week. We concluded our visit by taking a walking tour of the township. That afternoon we were officially welcomed at a staff reception attended by both LEAP schools. The TWA team then did supervision of 9th and 10th grade self study sessions while the LEAP staff had a staff meeting. In the late afternoon the TWA team participated (or just watched in my case) the various cultural activities. Friday morning I went with a team of students to set up the container lab in Langa. I came back to LEAP to attend the regularly scheduled community meetings. These are impressive events run entirely by the students. Mike and John Kennedy once again performed a very entertaining RAP, this one about the Code of Conduct. After lunch the team meet with John Gilmour and Bones for a “reflective” group meeting. The focus was on an assessment of the past week and the logistics for the coming week. Saturday morning most the team went to LEAP to help with the tutoring sessions. Elizabeth and I went back to Kalkfountaine to join Joyce at a community event she had organized. I believe this was the first such event to be held in the township. Music, street soccer, and face painting were all part of the festivities organized for the youth. Joyce explained that many young people get involved in drugs, alcohol and criminal activities out of boredom and peer pressure. Among the many things Joyce is doing, for the community she working to provide positive, engaging, and fun activities for the community. In the afternoon the TWA team went with Bonisile to a soccer match between the Kaizer Chiefs and Manchester United. It was great fun and quite a study in contrast to the other experiences of the week.. The rest of the weekend was given to a variety of social activities and preparing for the coming week. The week was very busy and productive, with the team going in a dozen different directions. The value the work TWA is doing became very apparent to me as the week progressed The MBA’s work with local business people, the psychology students counseling at Realistic and the teachers involvement with LEAP and the primary schools were all having an immediate beneficial impact. It  makes me very proud to be part of the TWA team. Jim

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