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Published: July 16th 2011
When I wrote last weekend, I was nervous about how the workshops would go this week: how it would feel to take a step back and just mentor the process, how the facilitators would do, how the teachers would be. Turns out, my nerves were unecessary, and everything went really well!
We ended up having about 30 teachers show up (50 were registered, but it is their holiday time and several were probably putting relaxation on a higher priority rung than ICT workshops), and we split them into two groups: those who had attended an Edunova workshop previously, and those who hadn’t. We had 2 locations to use, and the returning teachers went to the Edunova center for their sessions, while the first-timers worked at Mkhanyiseli Primary School (near to the Edunova center, also in the Phillipi township). We also did some combined sessions with the whole group in the assembly hall of Mkhanyiseli. As mentors, we spent time with both sets of teachers, depending on which facilitators we’d worked with to prepare the sessions, and where we felt we’d be the most useful in terms of our own knowledge of what was being presented. The facilitators really did an
excellent job. They were prepared, spoke clearly, and it was really a treat to see them step up so confidently. Some sessions were stronger than others, as they are used to doing sessions on how a program works but not so much on why we use these programs and where do we go from here? That’s where we stepped in to co-facilitate and help out.
By Wednesday, I admit that I was feeling a little bit sad about the fact that we didn’t have as much of a connection with the teachers attending the workshop as we had with those in the Eastern Cape. This was due, in large part, to the fact that we were not the ones leading the workshop and constantly interacting with the teachers, but also because they would leave around 4 every day to go home, and not stay in a hotel center as we’d done in Stutterheim. So, I was letting myself resign to just having met and worked with the teachers, but not expecting to have them contacting me and working with me long-distance as much as I did of the Eastern Cape teachers. Well, that changed pretty quickly on Wednesday. It’s
like they knew! I helped lead a few sessions that day, and by the afternoon, when I was in the Edunova center with the returning teachers, we were talking over tea/coffee and they were starting to ask me for help, advice, or just generally about myself. I loved it. And then came Skype.
We introduced the participants to Skype, what it is, how it works, and the educational possibilities of it. Then we skyped from our center to Mkhanyiseli, so the teachers got to see each other and video chat as a whole group. They were all so excited and immediately started signing up for their own accounts. One woman was telling me about how her cousin lives in North Carolina, and has for about 8 years. Her cousin’s children were young, so she’d only met one of them in person once and the other one she’d only seen photos of. So I encouraged her to try and use Skype with her cousin. Well, once she’d signed up for her account, she searched for her cousin’s name, and there she was! I had her log in on the projected computer, and she got to do a video chat with
her cousin, and her whole family in North Carolina. She got to meet and interact with the children! It was so amazing- there was so much screaming, laughing and excitement going on. The whole group got involved and really felt the power of Skype by the end of that 20 minute free chat!
On Thursday, I ended up leading some of the work/sessions at Mkhanyiseli as well, and had teachers asking me for my contact information, adding me on Skype, etc. A connection! I also got more connected with the Edunova facilitators as the week went on, so on Friday during break time, we had a little photo shoot together, and they gave me advice on how to properly African dance (“just shake what you have, and you do have something to shake!”) We talked about their children, fashion, music, etc and it was really, really enjoyable. I even had one of the ladies, Khosi, share some music with me, so now I’m ready to practice my hip shakes in the privacy of my own home when I get back to the States!
It’s been a really interesting week- with hearing about schools that have computer labs, SMARTboards
All of the walls were painted with these great, bright, murals
(Interactive white boards), laptops, etc, which is a pretty stark contrast to the one laptop situation of several of the schools in the Eastern Cape. We helped the teachers to come up with next steps both for their schools and for themselves, professionally, and next week we will be visiting some of the schools to help put these plans into action.
We were pretty exhausted most nights, so didn’t really do much after work, with the exception of some trips to the i-store to get Sarah’s laptop fixed, some dinners out while we waited for traffic to die down, and then on Friday when we ended at lunch time- enjoying the sunshine and shopping in some markets.
This weekend brings a trip to Cape Point, maybe checking out some other markets, and a day at the Franshhoek wine festival! It’s hard to believe that I only have one week left here.
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