Following the wilderness I was excited to get to work at my internship site, Education Without Borders (EWB). Meredith and I were placed at EWB, which is located in the township of GuGulethu, which aims to provide after school educational resources to students including drama, math, science and writing.
Prior to work, we had an opportunity to bond with Shawn and Leandre, our supervisors at EWB, during our wilderness experience and I was happy to be greeted by them when we arrived at our first day of work on Friday, November 28. Leandre has just finished and received her degree in social work and it has been interesting and insightful to discuss the differences between social work in the United States vs. South Africa.
Upon arrival we left the EWB offices and headed to Fazeka High School where we would spend the day with the students, or “learners” as the South Africans refer to them. The learners had just completed their last day of classes and were clearly excited to begin summer break. In the afternoon the learners put on an end of the year performance celebrating the completion of another school year. Singing and dancing has been a major theme throughout my time here and this performance reconfirmed the importance of these activities in South African culture.
Walking the halls of Fazeka was a very different experience than walking the halls of my high school growing up. Here, Fazeka is an empty building made of brick and desolate hallways. Metals bars and guard rails cover every door and window and students are sparsely seen outside classrooms. Our visit to the high school located at Case elicited a very similar feeling, with little color, greenery or activity. Despite the barren hallways, there was no shortage of joy and excitement on every person’s face I encountered.
I am happy to see the work organizations like EWB are doing in the school systems of South Africa. Providing tutoring, mentorship and overall support to a student’s learning experience is essential in creating opportunities of higher education and success. While education is not my particular passion, I see the importance of these issues and truly value the work Shawn, Leandre and all the staff of EWB do.