We've just returned from our trip to Zimbabwe--the Teachers Workshop Day on the 3rd of October was exhilarating, soulful and very motivating. You'll be pleased I'm sure to know that I finally got delivery of the parcels--just in time! The only thing missing was 50 erasers--inexplicable, since there were more valuable things in there, but anyway, not tragic.
On the following Monday we made a tour of the other schools in the region which will be part of the expanded project, thanks to the financial support we're getting from the Roger Federer Foundation. The conditions in all of the schools is as dismal as Matopo Primary was in the beginning, with broken windows, 3 to 4 kids sharing dilapidated desks meant for 1 or 2 children, cracked blackboards, a lack of toilets and clean water. But I am always amazed at the discipline, motivation and eagerness to learn and teach that I see every time in Zimbabwe. They may be dressed in rags, but the children stand up straight, look you in the eye and smile! The teachers' pride in what they can accomplish against all odds is humbling and inspiring.
As you may know, I'm trying to recruit teachers here to be pen friends with Matopo teachers. At the Teachers Workshop Day, the queue to sign up for a Swiss pen friend stretched the whole length of the room! Please get in touch with me if you would be interested in corresponding with a Matopo teacher. You needn't be a primary school teacher to take part--everyone is welcome--you don't even have to be from Switzerland.
I've gotten cannier about which activities work well at these Workshops. In previous Workshops, I have always used the idea of stories, especially folk tales, as a springboard for many games and activities. This time we acted out, translated and drew illustrations from some Ndebele tales which some teachers from Matopo had prepared in advance for the Workshop. It was wonderful! I also used a version of one of my favourite childhood stories, "Stone Soup", and it was great fun.
Stay tuned for more developments and please encourage us by leaving a short comment.
The Matopo Primary School Teacher-to-Teacher project is documented here. It is kindly being supported by ETAS (English Teachers Association Switzerland) and the Roger Federer Foundation.