I began reading the posts of my fellow adventurers and it brought upon a plethora of rich emotions regarding our short time here in Cape Town. We’ve touched upon a lot on the stories that locals have shared with us and it’s been so humbling to hear their perspectives and views. One thing I didn’t realize is how I’m also beginning to learn so much about the individuals that I’m experiencing all of this with. For many, this was one of our first interactions together outside of the classroom. However, within the last three weeks, we’ve laughed, cried, gotten frustrated (& hangry!), and have created lasting memories together. It’s so amazing to have this opportunity to engage in such a meaningful experience abroad, but even more powerful to do so with a team of diverse, but passionate, caring and knowledgeable individuals. I’m very grateful that we have this safe, welcoming space where we continue to process, reflect, and learn together.
In thinking about our schools, my goal for this second week was to continue to focus on building relationships with staff and teachers. As much as I love interacting with the children (they really are the sweetest!), the biggest impact I can leave is to focus on helping the teachers in the short time that we are here. In order to do, support needs to come from a place of love, understanding, and ultimately, the needs of the teachers and classroom.
With that being said, my partner and I were able to connect with our teaching teams. We approached the conversation by sharing that we wanted to help and also to collaboratively decide together what would be our focus in the next weeks. We were able to share all of the great things we observed happening in the site and asked some questions to get a better idea of what the teaching staff wanted more support with. The teachers were so open and honest with sharing areas that they felt were more challenging, which included limited resources, staff, and physical space. We decided that we would focus on introducing simple adult-facilitated games along with activities for the younger infants and toddlers. It felt so productive to brainstorm and develop a plan of action in partnership with the other teachers and I look forward to working with the teachers on these goals.
Later in the week, we debriefed with True North and a topic that came up is the importance of leadership. It made me think about how community-oriented the creches are in nature and how the leaders are the individuals that really spearhead and lay the foundation for the supports, resources, and direction of the schools. A characteristic I am beginning to see in the strong leaders here is responsiveness. This comes from an understanding of the needs of the people, followed by a plan of action to address the challenges. Only then, can you really serve a community to its best.