It’s hard to start this blog today because we are so close to the end. We have our closing ceremonies tomorrow, and the Rural Teachers’ Conference on Saturday. But the good-byes are already starting. We shared our anthology pieces today and it was very moving. Our topics included childhood memories, a memoir of a long-dead dog, and a tribute to a brother who fought injustice. Solomon has been writing about social issues so beautifully that we all think he should publish them as a book. Every piece shared was captivating. We went through the whole range of emotions and marveled at the complexity of human life. Nteveleni said it all when he said that we are all members of the human race.
Today was the San Antonio Writing Project’s last day and they celebrated Visitors’ Day with both professional friends, as well as family and friends. We were able to Skype with them and we got to see the beginning of the day. When they were introducing the SAWP members, we couldn’t see them because they were out of range of the camera. We asked them to move the camera, but they misunderstood and put us in another room where we were meeting one on one with the TC’s. Because we didn’t want to take away from Visitors’ Day, we quietly hung up. At that moment, Dr. Hanlie Dippenaar Skyped us, and so we were able to have some time with her. It was great to see her back in South Africa, and our teachers want her to come up to Limpopo so that we can all work together.
The SAWP anthology was posted on our google site today, and I couldn’t wait to read it. They have a wonderful cover filled with pictures from the writing project, and their stories, like the Limpopo stories touch the heart. I felt sad that I wasn’t there with them, but the Skyping helped me to feel connected to them.
We finished Masilo’s demo today. It was a critical literacy demo that asked us to consider children’s rights. We had a rich discussion about children’s rights in the South African constitution which brought up the issue of corporal punishment. The South African constitution guarantees a child’s right to safety, and therefore, corporal punishment is illegal. This was a wonderful critical literacy lesson.
Our last demo for the workshop was presented by Makoma. She had us thinking about religions and diversity of religions that exist. I had already shared my piece about my Grandparents’ struggle in America and had spent a great deal of the paper discussing the major kinds of Judaism that exist. I had written about this in part, because of my writing conferences when people asked so many questions about Judaism. Then, when Makoma shared the section in the 4th grade social studies book that described the Jews, it was very short and only described a few things about Orthodox Jews. Reform and Conservative Judaism weren’t even mentioned. This led to a discussion about how important it is for teachers to read many texts and educate themselves about the issues that they are teaching. We can’t rely on textbooks to teach the truth and the complexity of history.
I’m closing with two journals—one mine and the other from Nteveleni whose words capture the spirit of how we are all feeling in LWP.
This is our last full day. I feel sad and I am clinging to every minute. My parents Skyped me last night and my mother asked me to tell everyone that she feels that she has been on this trip with me and that she loved meeting all of you and that it has really made her life exciting. Last night, Teko Facebooked while he was watching the performance of the students and he said that that he has loved his time here and has never felt so stress-free.
Each day of the LWP has been a blessing and the days go fast and they are packed with so many gifts. We have the gift of the people, each LWP teacher brings their own talents and insights to our group. From the first song that is shared in the morning to the last insight offered at the end of the day, we are enriched. How lucky we are to be part of the Limpopo Writing Project, and to be able to have learned and grown together.
I will never forget your powerful stories and our discussions about life, aging and death. I will never forget our singing and dancing together and how we encouraged each other to grow not only in our writing, but in our lives.
Thank-you for coming on the adventure of the Limpopo Writing Project, for giving up your days, for taking a chance, and for going on this journey with me. The wonderful thing about the writing project is that it is not over, when you walk out the door, but rather, it is just beginning. The Limpopo Writing Project will continue to meet. You have your American partners who are anxious to exchange teaching ideas with you and would like their learners to write and interact with yours. And you have me. Please email me or write and keep in contact with me. Let me know how you are doing and how the teaching of writing and reading is going. Most of all let me know what is going on with your life and that you are well. This is not an ending. We are parting, but we will forever be joined in our hearts.
I am a citizen of the world. I am a member of the human race. This is my wish. These words are always echoing in my ears. I wish that one day, I’ll wake up and find this to be a reality, where people will refer to one another as a brother from another continent, a sister, a father, and a mother from another continent. There is only one creator and you do not need to be a rocket scientist to prove that we are one. We are all members of the human race. The time is now for all the citizens of the world to stand up and hold each other’s hands for the total development of all members of the human race.