Unlike our tour in Cape Town where we viewed the townships from a distance, in Port Elizabeth the township played a pivotal role in providing us the opportunity to experience true urban Africa; we did everything in the township (except live). A township is a suburb or city of predominantly black occupation, formerly officially designated for black occupation by apartheid legislation.
We were all placed in Primary Schools in the New Brighton township, which is Port Elizabeth’s best known and one of the oldest townships. During the struggle against apartheid the area was known for its strong politics, and the first cell of the African National Congress’s military wing Umkhonto We Sizwe was formed here. New Brighton is home to around 40,000 people, who live in a mixture of wooden and corrugated iron shacks, and more substantial government-built housing.
Jaimee and I were placed at Charles Duna Primary School, where Ms. Nombulelo Sume is the principal.
In the mornings we worked with Grade R (Readiness), where Ms. Mandisa and Ms. Koleka were the teachers.
In their classroom alone, there are 68 enrolled students.
The thing I admired most was that class started everyday with a prayer and a song. All of the children knew the prayer and the song.
The most beautiful thing about these children was their eagerness to learn; they were thirsty for knowledge.
And the children were just darn cute!!
In the afternoon, we worked with Mr. Mfunda in Grade 7 in their Life Skills classes.
They were working on a Heritage Day project, where the 7th graders were divided in four groups that represented four different cultures; English People, India People, San People and Xhosa People. The purpose of the project was learning about different cultures in relations to their artifacts, clothing, dance, food and housing, We were assigned to a group as the Project Manager and I was assigned to the San People group.
Khosi was my Lead Helper and Interpreter. I most graciously THANK her for that!
We held a successful Parent Meeting for the Parents of Grade R.
We held impressive Pre- and Post- Faculty, Grade R Teachers and Interns Meeting.
Jaimee and I created and implemented a Pen Pal Program with Ms. Phulma Mgcuwa and the 4th Graders.
We matched the 4th Graders with 4th Graders from Martin Luther King Elementary School in Dixmoor, IL (where my Daughter-In-Law, LaToya King-Lawrence is the Counselor) and 4th Graders from Neoga Middle School in Neoga, IL (where Jaimee’s mother, Shari Roy is a Para-Professional), We were successful in getting 70 students to write letters. We took each of their pictures to attach to their letters and were able to mail them on Friday; October 04.