Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Limpopo Writing Project Teacher Consultants 2011

Day 4 The Limpopo Writing Project

We've settled in to the routine of LWP day. We begin with a song and a prayer and then we start writing in our journals. Joyce wrote about her life and all the changes she has gone through. That led Dr. Leketi Makalela to reflect on the change in his life as he leaves the University of Limpopo for his new faculty position in JoBurg. We discussed that even as change is good, "parting is such sweet sorrow." He remains committed to the Limpopo Writng Project and to it's long term continuation.

We then heard the daily log and started on our writing time. During writer's response groups, we had a visitor, Professor Lukas Mkuti who shared his poetry. Afterwards, he shared that he had studied at The University of Arizona with Drs. Luis Moll, and Drs. Ken & Yetta Goodman. When I shared that I am good friends with the Goodmans and their daughter Debi, we marveled at how small the world actually is.

Later we went on the SAWP SI 2011 and marveled at the quotes the SAWP teachers submitted for the anthology. They seemed to capture the essence of writing beautifully. We also uploaded pictures from our LWP site to the google site.

We had two demonstations today, one about the problem of eating nutritious food for South African children by Seipati which led us into the discussion of obesity in the US, and how we are trying to combat it. Then Esther led us in a demo with a film clip of the student's uprising in 1976. One of our participants had been living there during this time and talked about the wounds it still holds. We had a fascinating discussion about healing, sharing history with our learners, and encouraging learners to build a better life for themselves. We discussed how drugs and other forces are problems for young people in both countries. This critical literacy lesson was moving, emotional and an important one to share with students and learners.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 3 The Limpopo Writing Project

After 2 days of struggling with the computer center, we decided not to go there. Instead, we worked in the room and had a very productive day. Since we knew that we would Skype with SAWP teachers today, we spent journal time writing questions that we had for the teachers in America and describing the teaching situation in The Limpopo Region of South Africa. This led to quite a discussion about the difficulty of teaching 21st century literacies when you don't have computers or the Internet in your classroom. They wondered if the teachers could help them get computers. When I explained that many classrooms in San Antonio don't have computers for every student or even a few in each classroom, they were shocked. They imagined that every classroom in San Antonio had a computer for every student.

We looked at the google-site and read every introduction from the SAWP teachers. Then we looked at their pictures, and I helped them associate the writings with their faces. At lunch we took several group pictures that we will put on the google site tomorrow. We held up our name tags so the SAWP teachers will know who we are. We are hoping to connect every South African teacher with a SAWP participant. The challenge will be how to keep in contact without computers and email to rely on. We want all the learners in the teacher's classrooms to connect with American students through writing.

As we prepared for SAWP to contact us on Skype, my Mother and Father Skyped us. We only had a minute before the SAWP call came in, but the teachers were glad to meet my parents and amazed that they were so computer proficient.

We were very excited to Skype with SAWP and this time we knew each other better and had more questions to ask. Barry from SAWP was amazed that the SA teachers meet for 12 hours a day and he promised to help SAWP look for technology grants for the Limpopo teachers. Shannon gave us a tour of the SAWP room. The SA teachers encouraged Dr. Hanlie Dippenaar to return to SA soon and lead the Writing Project with them. But the funniest moment of the day was when one SA teacher asked for Justin to come to the screen and told him that Roxanne has said that he was single and available and was that true? This caused teachers on both sides of the ocean to burst out laughing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 2 Limpopo Writing Project

Today Ngokoana & Nakedi spent the day with us and shared some of their experiences with the San Antonio Writing Project and the Limpopo Writing Project. We spent time discussing the presentations and looked closely at Vicki's demonstration. Her demo and the videos she shared had us thinking about our lives as digital immigrants. There is so much to learn! Later when we went to the computer lab we finally got everyone an email and invited to the google site.

I had dinner with Nakedi, Ngokoana, and Ngokoana's friend who is a professor. We found that we had so much in common as we talked about the importance of bringing writing to all the learners in South Africa.

Here is what I wrote during our journal time today:

I am so happy to be back at The University of Limpopo with all of you. This is truly a dream come true. Yesterday was a long and productive day that ended with a dramatic program and dancing. Then as we went to the lodge, the electricity went out and the sky was spectacular. Everywhere I looked the stars shimmered and they seemed to almost touch the earth. I've lost that view living in the city by a highway with the cars whizzing by leaving a perpetual hum and the stars obstructed by the city lights. I needed to come back to Africa to restore my sense of peace.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day One of the 3rd Limpopo Writing Project Institute

Today was a fun, packed first day of the writing project. We skyped with both Mashaba and the San Antonio Writing Project 2011 ISI. It was amazing to see the teachers in the US. Really technology is mind-boggling. Then after dinner we had a theatrical performance by the Limpopo students that ended with us singing and dancing to "It's Time for Africa," a happy song. On the back to town, we stopped at the lodge where the teachers are staying. The power had gone out and it was completely dark outside. The sky was filled with thousand of stars that reached across the horizon and seemed to touch the ground. The Southern Sky in winter is spectacular!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Limpopo Writing Project 2011 Institute

I have arrived in South Africa and the 3rd Limpopo Writing Project Institute begins tomorrow. We are very excited to begin our 3rd institute and I can't believe that I am back to help with the institute. I feel very grateful to be here and to be able to work with Dr. Leketi Makalela and the South African teachers. Today I was lucky enough to spend time with Ngokoana and Nakedi, who stayed with us during the 2008 San Antonio Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute. We had a wonderful time together and we all feel so connected and lucky to be together. These are magical times.