Students engaging with young children at the community school, teaching and learning together

Heartwarming reports from Nholwasi

Daisy Whitehouse

Lumukisa Preparatory School

16th July – 7 August 2007

The school placement was brilliant. The children were so enthusiastic about learning and getting to know me. I found out lots about their culture and felt I really got to know some of the children well.

The variety of teaching you get to do is great. Being able to teach natural science to Grade 6 in the morning and then to teach shapes and numbers to Grade 2 after lunch. I really felt needed and my presence and work appreciated. The lack of resources is obvious yet they still manage to get through exams and art lessons without much paper or stationery.

Helping in the vegetable garden was hard work but very satisfying as it will become a sustainable source of vegetables for the school. I really felt like i was making a difference.

The fun day was really good fun! Organising games and doing pony rides. Everyone had a lovely time and it was a welcome break after the exam stress. Overall it has been a thoroughly rewarding experience and I am very grateful to Kate and of course Lumukisa for their guidance, many thanks!

Emily Hunter

Lumukisa Preparatory School

February 19th – March 20th 2007

My main thought as I prepare to leave is that a month at Lumukisa has just not been long enough. I’d love to stay longer and have a chance to see even more of a progression with things like the vegetable patch and the mural. However, looking back over my experience I have enjoyed every minute and have learned alot along the way.

I found the two weeks with the Grade R class particularly rewarding because it was so challenging. I have not had much experience of teaching children of such a young age and I had to learn quickly about the importance of keeping them engaged. But I thought the most satisfying part was getting to the end of the two weeks and realising that some of the children could write or draw better than they could before and that I had had a hand in teaching that.

I found the teaching of the older students vastly different in a lot of ways. The lessons were much more focussed, but I really enjoyed the same feeling of being able to teach them something.

I learned a lot about how to communicate with the children and I experienced a completely different culture to what I have been used to. It has opened my eyes to a different way of life. I think Lumukisa is a very special school and I am sad to be leaving. I will definitely be in touch and I hope that I will be able to return in the future and experience the same enthusiastic staff, happy learners and progressive environment. Thank you for the opportunity to be here. I will have a lot of new memories and experiences to take away with me.

Barry Rees

Lumukisa Preparatory School

5th – 20th March 2007

After spending only two weeks at Lumukisa School, I have realised it wasn’t long enough. I’ve had such a great, positive experience I wish the stay could have been longer.

Have I been tired by the end of the school day? Yes, but it has been a pleasure knowing that the things I have done during the day, having taught Grade R, 5, 6 or 7 something they will hopefully remember.

On my first day and for the following fortnight, I had to cover EMS lessons for Grades 5, 6 and 7. At first, it was a subject I knew little about, but quickly gained knowledge so I could teach all. I particularly enjoyed teaching Grade 5 as they are eager to learn and listen, even though they do not always understand. Grades 6 and 7 were challenging at times but there were children who were keen to know new things. I soon learnt that once boundaries have been set, everyone has fun!

In addition to EMS and Grade 6 Environmental Science. I spent a week with Grade R. I had a great time, but had to learn others ways to communicate as I don’t think they always understood what I was asking/saying. I went on the Grade R trip to Hoedspruit, with 73 children and only 6 adults, it was a long hard day. However it was a joy to see how the Grade R’s acted out of school. It was especially pleasant to see hear them singing and dancing and learning while on the train to Hoedspruit.

Aside from teaching and substituting lessons we had managed to start work on the vegetable garden. This was an amazing project that has great potential for the school and community. On my last day, we had managed to clear a substantial area of weeds that will make it possible to start growing things while the rest of the area gets cleared. The vegetable garden has the potential to feed the school as well as teach the learners about agriculture. I am glad work has started on this.

While my time at Lumukisa School was short, having never taught or worked at a school, I have learnt alot about communicating, teaching and learning. Additionally I have experienced another side to South Africa, aside from the animlas and safaris. The “real” South Africa. I thank you greatly for this oppurtunity.

Gemma Steel

Lumukisa Preparatory School

8th May – 5th June 2007

When I first came to the project, I didn’t really know what to expect. Having never done any teaching before, I was a bit overwhelmed at first. However, it didn’t take long to settle in and once I had, I really enjoyed the teaching. It has definitely given me a lot of confidence. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to stand up in front of a whole class of Grade 7s and actually teach them but when I got started, I absolutely loved it! Getting a class to listen to me as I taught was so rewarding, especially as the learners were so happy when they had done their work well. Even getting involved in lesson plans and discussing the best way of teaching the learners was great fun.

Lumukisa is such a great place, it was welcoming from the first day. The teachers are friendly and the learners are amazing (most of the time!). I also loved talking and getting to know them all at break and when there were no lessons.

I was also happy to be involved in ongoing projects, such as the vegetable patch and in particular helping to build the netball court. It was satisfying to see the girls enjoying playing on a proper court I had helped to build and I would really like to keep up with how these projects are progressing.

The netball and football matches were really great. Seeing the whole school out in support of their teams and running onto the pitch after winning was amazing. It just showed how much of a community spirit there is at Lumukisa.

I have loved every minute of my time here, both teaching and getting to know the staff and learners. There is so much potential at the school and I’m proud to have been a part of that! I have found that teaching is something I really enjoy and the Nholwasi project has been a highlight of my trip. It has given me the opportunity to really learn about the people and culture of South Africa. I felt at home at Lumukisa and I shall really miss it. I’m proud to have been a part of it. It's a great project, I recommend anyone to get involved and I’ll definitely stay in touch.

I had a great time, so thank you Lumukisa.

Guinevere Short

Lumukisa Preparatory School

5th – 20th March 2007

How do all the learners seem to know exactly what is going on? When I found everyday a complex maze of lessons and random bells – highly organised chaos.

My lasting memory of my time at Lumukisa is how much potential, energy and personality is contained within.

I found the Grade R class challenging to say the least. Forty-three five year-olds running amok while taking great delight in our confusion and sense of impotency. How in heavens name do teachers get them from illiteracy to literacy, it blows my mind.

On the other hand I fell in love with the Grade 4 class. I took delight in discovering the individual characters within the class. I found these lessons highly rewarding and entertaining. I sorely missed taking their lessons when a new teacher had been employed.

A thought I have been pondering since… do I retrain to be a teacher?

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone at Lumukisa Primary all the best for the future. What I have gathered seems disproportionate to what I gave. I have learned that out of so little, so much can be achieved. That in some cases less is more. Thank you.

Kayleigh Pietzak

Lumukisa Preparatory School

31st July – 28th August

Before deciding to come to Nholwasi I wanted to do a project that would make a difference. And I believe that if one child has listened to me whilst I have been teaching, then I have achieved that.

But this has also been an amazing experience for me too. Thank you for being so welcoming its made life that little bit easier.

The first week in school I thought I would never cope. I did arrive on the most chaotic day off all, the Fun Day! It has also been hard work working with the children. I don’t think I have said “be quiet” so many times in one day, but it's so rewarding at the same time.

I enjoyed working with the Grade 2 and Grade 3 classes. I loved teaching the classes myself as there was a real feel of responsibility and you knew the whole class had their attention on you. It was also nice to see the Educators teaching their lessons.

The vegetable garden, an on going project, with so much benefit to the school, has been a pleasure to be involved with. Though some days melting in the sun it didn’t feel like it, but to see each stage as it finished was incredibly satisfying.

I feel privileged to have been part of the school. I have learnt so much about the community and their culture. I feel I have been able to see a different side of South Africa. I thank you very much.

Lizzie Erian

Lumukisa Preparatory School

30th April – 29th May

My first impressions of Lumukisa were of friendly staff, very happy children and a real sense of community. The more time I have spent there, the more this has been confirmed. Watching the whole school turn out to support the older boys and girls play sports matches and run onto the pitch cheering with excitement when they won sums up the atmosphere at the school.

I feel like I have really got to know some of the children and hopefully they enjoyed us being there too. From teaching grades 4, 5, 6 and 7 to clearing the vegetable patch and creating the netball pitch, there has been nothing I haven’t enjoyed.

Even though teaching can be stressful at times (especially the grade 4s), it is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I think it has given me more confidence and I hope the children have learnt something along the way too.

I am going to miss so many things about the school, from being asked “teacher, teacher must I rule a line?”, to having my hair stroked by the girls.

I think Lumukisa is a special school and I hope I can come back to see how it has progressed. I have enjoyed every minute spent at the school and am very sad to have to leave.

Thank you very much and good luck for the future.

Stephanie Harris

Lumukisa Preparatory School

30th April – 29th May 2007

The last four weeks at Lumukisa really have been amazing. It was a challange at first teaching the Grade 4 class all day, as they we not always on their best behaviour, but Lizzie and I really began to get to know the children, and the whole experience was very rewarding.

What I’ve enjoyed about the project at Lumukisa is that not only have we been given the chance to teach but we’ve taken part in other activities such as clearing the vegetable patch, creating the netball court, painting the mural on the wall of the school logo and making a noticeboard. To be able to help in so many ways has been fantastic.

One particular event that I thoroughly enjoyed and that summed up the positive atmosphere at the school was the afternoon Lumukisa played another local school at both netball and football. All the learners were so excited and cheered on the teams, and we all joined in too. Great team spirit!

The staff have all been very friendly and I will miss the children. A month has just not been long enough.

I look forward to seeing pictures of the finished vegetable patch and I hope that the school continues to thrive. Thank you so much to everyone at Lumukisa; I really have had a brilliant time.

Victoria Hadaway

Lumukisa Preparatory School

13th August – 25th August

I did not know what to expect when I first arrived at Lumukisa school, but after my first day, the first impression of the school was how friendly and enthusiastic the staff and children are.

I had to cover a Grade 3 class all day, which was challenging at first to make them quieten down and listen but overall it was very rewarding, as you can see what a difference you are making to the children by what you are teaching them.

The Grade 5 classes are a great bunch of children and are most of the time willing to be quiet and learn new things. It was fantastic being able to make a difference to them. The Grade 6 and 7 classes, were challenging but still most of them are lovely and willing to cooperate. But overall most of the children are very energetic and friendly and I have been privileged to work and teach with them.

Although my time at Lumukisa school was short, I have found it very rewarding as well as an eye-opening experience. I was amazed at how much can be achieved through so little resources.

I had an amazing experience at Lumukisa and this experience will stay with me forever. I wish everyone all the best for the future and once again thank you very much.