My plane landed and I heard the wonderful announcement, “Welcome to Cape Town, South Africa.” I had to pinch myself many times until I could realize, I’m back.
This is my fourth time returning to Cape Town, my third in partnership with SFSU. In years prior I was an undergraduate student in Child and Adolescent Development, serving as mentor in the creches to provide support for the teachers and children. Now as a veteran to the program, and feeling like a local in Cape Town, I am serving a different purpose.
I am fortunate enough to be a leader this year, in the role of preparing the team for the trip, and leading the teaching community in trainings. Since January, the team has spent time together learning about the culture, the people and the community we are working with. Despite our best efforts, we can never really prepare for a new and different experience that is wrapped up in the township of Vrygrond.
As planning for the trainings is underway, it was really important for me to remember the experiences I previously had in the creches. The difference between San Francisco practices and the ECE practices in Vrygrond are quite different, so a new lens needed to be looked through. This week will be the first teacher training which will focus on inclusion. One point that the team wanted to emphasize is the importance of including all children, not just those with disabilities or challenges. This will be highlighted in the training by the SFSU students acting out classroom scenarios, in order to put actions to the information I will be sharing. Another important aspect of the inclusion training will be the team sharing positive inclusive practices that they are witnessing in their creches. This will provide even more examples for the teachers, while also acknowledging the great work these teachers are already doing on a daily basis.
My goal for the teacher trainings is to address important topics in ECE, in a warm and welcoming way. I am trying to keep the information light, while also being interactive to keep everyone engaged and interested. At the end of the day we are all early educators. We have to be compassionate to the communities we serve, while also creating safe and educational environments for children to thrive in. Through the trainings, I hope to also create a safe and educational environment for the teachers to be more confident in their practices and encouragement to continue the great work they already do.