Thursday, July 31, 2008

“We really liked the camp Thabiso”

As I was broke from Youth Day (we operated on our own personal funds until funding came from the states which was only accessible two weeks later), I decided be a villager for the break. The fact that I traveled home during the school year might have had something to do with it….

But as usual, I decided to run a camp for the children and a computer workshop for the educators that were also in town (Excel this time- how to keep a gradebook), and I’m glad to say, there was learning going on. I awoke the first day of camp was heavily loaded. A backpack, guitar, 5 kg bag of flour (I’ll explain) , another bag full of tangrams, and a bucket in which I usually wash clothes.

As a looked towards the school, a handful of children were already there. I knew that there would be more coming from our house, because well, the host cousins come over every time I have a camp. They also tend to be immensely helpful in preparation.

The camp worked like a charm, very few discipline problems, a massive papier-mâché globe was made, and about 50-60 children excitedly asking me daily to look at their tangrams to see if they got it right. Some are quicker than other, some require a little help, but on the whole tangram time is something looked forward to by all, but it can be mayhem. On occasion, I calm the room down by having a sing-a-long, which tells you just how loud it can get when the tangrams come out.

By far the favorites are “Oh Susanna!” followed closely by an Africanized version of “This Land is your Land” i.e. from Table Mountain to the shores of Durban

The final event in the camp was a math competition for two prizes my family had sent me. Yes, the children got excited about math… too excited at times as they would literally jump out of their seats to answer a question. This led me to move the competition outside, where everyone wanted to see the flashcards.

As this was the third camp I conducted, I’ve begun to see personalities in the students. Two particular students had enjoyed darting in and out of the previous camps and now came early, trying to read. This tells me that I’ve either learned a bit about classroom management, or skipping camp has lost it’s novelty, perhaps a little of both.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Madiba

"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." Nelson Mandela - Rivonia Trial, where he could have been sentenced to death.

Today was Nelson Mandela's 90th Birthday, so I wish him all the best and would like to thank him for inviting the Peace Corps to South Africa.

This remarkable man is both the grandfather and father of post-apartheid South Africa and is a role model, not only for South Africans, but for many in other parts of the world.

Branded as a terrorist, and to be sure, he was one. He sought to overthrow the state, using terror if necessary. However the leader that emerged in the transition to democracy was one of compassion, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice. Many South Africans hold him up as the model of South Africa. Well-versed in his traditional culture, yet educated in the ideals of democracy, a smart humble man.

To be sure, his presence at the helm is missed, but I do feel, it's time for people to follow Nelson's model, not just clamor for him to lead them again.
God Bless you Madiba, I pray for you and the future of South Africa.