South Africa Educational Study Program
On the Road
May 21-22, 2007
Sawubono! We have arrived in South Africa after 24 hours in the air from JFK, we safely arrived in Johannesburg airport at 4:00 pm. We went through customs and exchanged our money into the local Rand. We boarded the bus and headed into the beautiful community of Silver Lakes where we ate dinner with Rina Prenzler, the CEO of Edendale School (where we will be teaching) and the Makhulong Children's Village. We had a chance to meet with our host families and transitioned to their homes for the next few days.
We woke up early and went to the Edendale Primary School where we were welcomed with an assembly full of introductions and singing. We then moved to our designated classrooms (K-7) where we implemented pre-planned curriculum. We observed daily activities and even joined in a soccer game. We ended our first day visiting the Unions Building and the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. We also had the opportunity to visit our first flea market.
It's time for bed; we hope to be in touch tomorrow!
May 23, 2007
Our second day at school, we began with one of the coldest nights they had seen for a long time. The temperature was -1 C last night, and icy in the morning. After waking up very early, we all arrived at school and began classroom assignments. In the afternoon we moved to the Makhulong Children's Village, an orphanage on the Edendale School grounds. At the orphanage, Karen Brackett presented a check for over $11,500 from Steve Mazza (a senior Skidmore student who traveled to South Africa in 2005) to Rina Prenzler and the staff, as well as the children at the orphanage. The money that Steve raised was from his music CD that he created and sold. A new academic building may be constructed from Steve's gift. In addition, we provided each child at the orphanage with a quilt that was made by the Skidmore group during the fall and spring semester. The children now own their own quilt. This was a very moving moment for everyone. They showed their appreciation with smiles, hugs, and South African songs.
This evening we will be attending the play "Lion King" at the Montecasino Teatro. This event will raise funding for Nikosi's Haven, a long term residential care facility for HIV positive mothers and their children and resulting AIDS orphans. In one of the required readings for ED 330, We Are All The Same, students were inspired about the true story of South Africa's youngest AIDS activist, Nikosi Johnson, who as a result of fear and discrimination, was separated from his biological mother and ostracized in his community-a fate that with even with all the education still happens to this day. We are pleased that the orphaned children from Makhulong Children's Village and our host families will join us for this performance.
Time at School
May 24, 2007
Last night we had a wonderful time at the Lion King musical performance in Johannesburg. The children from the orphanage enjoyed the brilliant costumes, dancing and exciting music. The play included several Afrikaans languages—but was mostly spoken in English. The inclusion of many languages made it very appealing to many as there are eleven official languages in South Africa. Since the authentic environment of The Lion King is in Africa, it certainly added a unique appeal for us as most of us had already viewed it on video or on Broadway in the United States.
Today, Thursday, the whole school had sports day. Neighboring schools traveled to Edendale to challenge the students in soccer for the boys and netball for the girls (similar to basketball in the U.S.). The sports began at 10 am and lasted throughout the day. It was very enjoyable to watch the students and observe them in a different setting—rather than only in the classroom. The Edendale students played very well and won many of their matches. Young boys from Edendale even challenged a small team of Skidmore students to a short soccer game. The Skidmore students won despite the tough competitions brought to us by the talented boys of Edendale.. The students here play soccer whenever they have the opportunity and therefore pose quite a challenge.
We all are very worn out after our late night at the play and sports all day, but are looking forward to our trip to Swadini and Kruger National Park to begin tomorrow morning.
At the end of the day, a teleconference between Edendale students and students in Saratoga Springs at Lake Avenue Elementary School, Caroline Street School and Greenfield Elementary School took place at the University of Pretoria.
May 30, 2007
We awoke this morning ready for another day of school. After a scrumptious and fiberous breakfast, we caught our school bus and headed on over to Edendale. Although it is often chilly in the early hours and at night, our days have been filled with nothing but sunshine. Our school day began with an inspiring assembly and we spent the day completing our curriculum in our individual classrooms. Many of us also conducted interviews with the Edendale staff to investigate post-aparteid progress. We are all getting very sad to leave our great new friends at Edendale. In preparation of our departure, we have planned to perform the song “Sweet Edendale” to the tune of our very own “Sweet Caroline.”
Our afternoon began at the Edendale High School down the road. The students performed a wonderful and unique interpretation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We then hopped on the bus and began our journey to Lesedi. Lesedi is interpreted as the “place of light”. We arrived to a lovely array of woven baskets, beaded jewelry, and other South African shopping goodies. We saw the traditional villages, dances, art, and war practices of the Zulu, Pedi, Xhosa (pronounced with a click), Bashoto, and Ndebele people. We were given a tour of each tribe’s village followed by a theatrical re-enactment of the different cultural aspects of their lifestyles. We also got a taste of the tribal cuisine which included some delectable crocodile, ostrich, and some delicious fruit salad for dessert. It was truly a cultural experience to remember.
Tomorrow we plan to visit a local government school and then finally partake in a much awaited trip to the mall.
May 31, 2007
We started our day with a visit to the Ffribeiro Primary School in Mamelodi which is a government sponsored school, We were greeted by the school principal who took us on a tour of the school. This government school costs R100 a year to attend and was full of overpopulated classrooms and students with so much personality. At the end of our visit we were lucky enough to hear a few songs performed by the schools award-winning chorus. We then went to the Dr. IM Monare Primary School, another government school. Here we also toured the school and visited all of their classroom’s. The visit to both school provided us a glimpse of the problems the public school system faces, and also a view of the wonderful children of South Africa.
After our school tours we went to the Mendlun Mall. At this gigantic mall there was a plether of stores from jewelry, clothing and sporting apparel. It also included a movie theatre, IMAX theatre, as well as a full range of restaurants. Students spent their time in the internet cafe, movie theatre, coffee shops and book stores. We enjoyed a very good dinner together and headed home to prepare for our last day at Edendale
June 1, 2007
Today was our last day at Edendale and it was no less packed with tons of emotions and good memories. The farewell assembly wasn’t until 11:30, giving us time with or students. There were soccer games and other dancing going on outside while others were busy in the classroom. With teary eyes we walked our classes over to the assembly where we were honored by sitting in the front row. Nicky Bodley, the deputy principal, spoke and we were treated to several traditional dances by some of the girls, as well as a rousing edition of the Macarana, put on by the grade 4 class with the assistance of Katie C, Ali and Sasha. The Skidmore students performed for the student two songs: Sweet Edendale (to the tune of Sweet Caroline) and The Twelve Days of Edendale.
After the emotional goodbyes, including having the students sign our t-shirts and walking some of them to the buses, we collected at the office. We drove down a dirt path to where our farewell braai with the teachers and some host families took place. The highlight of the afternoon was strokbrook, literally bread dough molded into a cylinder on a stick and baked over hot coals. Several hours passed before we went back to the farmhouse to pack and nap before our 4 a.m. departure to Durban and the beach on the Indian Ocean in KwaZulu/Natal.
For the rest of the trip we will be on the road heading for Cape Town! We have so many fun-filled days ahead, we are filled with excitement.