volunteers continue to ‘pass the baton’!

By Kate Stefanko. Filed in Uncategorized, volunteer stories  |  
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Yes, I know – we’re always going on about this … but I just wanted to share a recent baton-passing example, where returned volunteers offer help and advice, encouraging a ‘new’ volunteer to build upon their previous work in W.B.Tshume School.


Dear Brenda and Barry

Kate has given me your contact address as someone who has worked at Tshume School in Port Elizabeth. I am placed there from 10th October for 4 weeks. I have read your report with great interest and found it most encouraging. I was looking forward to the experience before, but even more so now.

I’m a retired English and Drama teacher, still working with young people in the youth theatre world. I will be working with Grade 7, 8 and 9 students with Rita and already have my outline work schedule.

(Rita Badi – educator in the senior phase, grades 7, 8, 9 – teaches English)

I shall be assisting the teacher in some aspects of English Language, and some of Art and Culture, probably Drama. I even have a list of the material I will be teaching which is pretty impressive – although goodness knows how I will get through it all in a month!  It gives me the chance to think a bit about techniques.

I shall be staying at the 5th Avenue beach house which looks very nice and have already had e-mail conversations with Anthea.

I would be truly grateful for any advice you can give me over and above your excellent report. It is information on little things like getting money, school  things I might usefully take in my baggage, hiring a car, good sight seeing, etc, which would be most useful. Anything really which you think I ought to know.

Looking forward to hearing from you
Best wishes
Tony

and Brenda’s reply – helping Tony to build on her work, as well as providing lots of practical tips:

Dear Tony,

We are very happy to tell more of Tshume. We could talk about it for hours! I first went to the school in October 2006.

I was so overwhelmed by my first visit that I came home and persuaded my husband to come back with me, so now I have been on 5 occasions and my husband on 4.

You will be greeted very warmly by the staff at Tshume. They are famous for their welcome. One highlight for us was morning prayers in the staff room before school starts, the singing is wonderful.

The school has very little in the way of resources but you need not take out too much as there is a shop called Pick n Pay in the shopping centre very close to the B&B, also a stationers, where you can buy most of your needs.

You will find grades 7/8/9 very nice to work with. Grades 7/8 are large, about 39 in each class and the classroom is small. Grade 9 is divided into 2 classes with only about 16 in each. I worked with these groups very often in the library where there is more space and there are tables to sit round for co-operative work – a new experience as most lessons are sit in rows face the board and do not speak. So speaking out and voicing an opinion was one of the things I tried to encourage. English is their second language and although most children speak it well you will find some who still struggle.

Rita asked me to work on formal grammar, parts of speech, punctuation etc. which I was not keen on. I tried very hard to introduce creative/ story/ personal writing and pointed out to Rita that it was possible to teach all the grammar etc in a more interesting way than just exercises written on the board.

Drama I enjoyed and was sorry not to do more and the children responded very well so go ahead with the drama.

When I first went there was not a story book in the school and I made it an ambition to provide the school with a library and over the years I have gathered together and sent out most of the books you will find in the library. I have just sent 2 more boxes which may arrive while you are there.

One lesson you could do with grade 9 is letter writing!! They could all write a letter to me and Barry and perhaps you could bring them home and post them on to us. I asked Rita to do this but……

I would advise timetabling yourself one period in the week to do some detailed lesson planning with Rita. I did this and it was good in focussing our teaching. I think forward planning is still a new idea but I tried to encourage Rita to carry on with it after I left. Rita is a great personality with a wicked sense of humour and we laughed a lot. The children responded well to a more informal way of teaching and never took advantage, always polite and hard working.

I envy you and wish I was going.

Getting money is no problem as there are money tills in the shopping centre near you, called Summerstrand.

The sea front is a lovely walk, there are many restaurants nearby.

We never hired a car but other volunteers did. Driving seems easy and roads outside PE are not busy. Lots of opportunities for sightseeing at the week end, and Calabash do safari weekends and other tours.

We went into PE by bus quite often and we used the local taxis which tear up and down the seafront and never had a problem, but there are also official “white” taxis.

Public transport is a bit of a problem as most white people go everywhere by car, so it is low priority and the buses are ancient, but you will enjoy the experience.

We felt safe all the time we were there and often went out by ourselves, although not often by night.

I seem to have said a lot and probably not given you the info you want. One last thought, take study footwear. The grounds are uneven and stony and if it rains there will be lots of big puddles.

Give our love to everyone, staff and children
Tell us all about how it went when you get back
Brenda

people and places will make sure that all Tshume volunteers receive Tony’s report, including Brenda and Barry od course.

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