By Lauren Drake
Clarksville Academy teachers spent three days interacting with teachers and students at a LEAP school in the Langa township of South Africa. In this short time, we learned that despite geographic separation, all kids are endowed with certain inalienable characteristics. We also found a place that most Americans would pity but is actually filled with a strong sense of community and hope. Lastly, this time enabled us to build a partnership between CA and LEAP that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Our vision for this visit was to learn from LEAP’s teachers and share our own expertise. We would go in and interact with students during lessons, bring some extra school supplies, and help fill some small needs of the school. We did, but that sentence seems too simplistic. It doesn’t capture the excitement of students who watched Ms. Lium write their names in Mandarin characters. It doesn’t quite convey the eagerness in the students’ questions about AP level science concepts for Mrs. Lindsey. Each teacher- and there were 13- who embarked on this trip to LEAP can share a rewarding encounter with students and faculty. We are not ready for these moments to come to a close.
Do these moments have to? Is this the fulfillment of our vision? I hope not. We need to revise that vision to include a longterm partnership with the school. Imagine bringing LEAP teachers to CA or sponsoring the fees for a student in the township. The possibilities are endless. This trip was a moment that should be a catalyst for an even greater impact; this trip should not exist in isolation and as just a fond memory. I don’t think our work is done here in Langa. Instead, it is just beginning.