Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Feeling like I am home

This picture says it all.... This was a building in Cape Town that I took a picture of awhile ago. However, today this picture just popped into my head because I truly feel at home here in South Africa.

Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope

I had an amazing weekend last weekend. I was able to accomplish one of the things that I wanted to do on my To-Do list while in Africa. Luckily, Sundays are completely free for us so it provides me with a chance to explore South Africa. Last Sunday I went with some of the TWA family and Heidi who is an amazing member of the LEAP staff and Mia her wonderful and adorable daughther to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.

The picture of me above is at the Cape of Good Hope with Cape Point in the background. It was an absolutely amazing day and the weather was perfect. As you will see in my pictures that I am sporting my wonderful KIPP 2010 sweatshirt... :-) Don't be fooled by the sunny weather and shorts it can get quite cold and windy here in South Africa.
Here is a picture of us with the Cape of Good Hope in the background. TWA fellows in this picture are Subina, Jen, and Katie. We had an absolutely amazing time. Mia, Heidi's daughter joined us for a later picture... :-)
This was one of the greatest parts of the day. Down to the beach at the Cape of Good Hope was this amazing valley. The sun was beginning to set and all you could hear was the crashing of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. We all ran down the hill towards the Atlantic Ocean and I was able to put my feet into the Atlantic which  was quite chilly but refreshing... :-)

Look at how adorable this picture is. This is Heidi and her daughter Mia who brought us to the Cape. Mia was so brave that she climbed all the way to the top of the Cape Point and she hiked half way down to the Cape of Good Hope. It truly was an amazing day. Don't they look so happy?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Huge Thank You

 The picture above is taken from one of the classrooms that I teach in here at LEAP. Can you imagine being able to teach and look out of your window and see this view of Table Mountain everyday.

Above is a picture of some of the TWA fellows that I have worked and lived with for the last two months. These are some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. Everyday I have learned something new and grown from them. I will truly miss them when it is time for us to separate. (I don't want to think about that... :-(

I just realized as I was going through and reading my blogs that I have not had a chance to say Thank You. Sometimes thank you is such an over-used word but I truly mean this from the bottom of my heart.

First of all I would like to thank my family and friends who gave me support physically, emotionally, and financially. So many people wished me luck and supported me in my effort to achiveve my goal and dream of travelling to Africa and teaching in South Africa. Without you, I wouldn't have had the courage and the strength to fully pursue this opportunity to achieve this dream.

Thank you to everyone who supported me financially with donating any amount that they could. I esepcially appreciated this given that there are so many charities and opportunities for people to donate to in today's society, that people felt my compassion and my emotional attachment to this journey with Teach with Africa that they would donate.

Thank you to the donors who donated anonymously. I am so appreciative of your donations that helped make this trip for me possible. I hope you can see how much I have grown from this trip through readin my blogs and pictures. I have learn just as much from the learners and teachers here, just as I have taught them in my science class. I cannot fully describe what this experience has mean to me. Everyday I am going to think about this incredible two month journey that I have experienced. Thank you so very much for your contribution.

Thank you to my school who allowed me to go on this journey, knowing that I would miss the last few days of the school year, and miss the first week or two of professional development. Even though I have been working since I left in mid-June and will fly straight back into profesional development meetings, the rejuvenation factor that I have gotten while being here as been immense.  I am bringing so much back with me that will be implemented at school and in my classroom that I know this trip has been worthwhile and I have benefited so much from it.

Thank you to the entire TWA team and family for the uplifting support and love that we have had over these two months. It is sad to think as I sit here and write this that we have just over two weeks left with each other. The bonds that we have made and the friendships that have formed can never be broken or taken away. To be with and live with so many people who are as passionate about education and breaking down barries has been phenomenal. This organization has done some truly inspiring work and I can't wait to see what becomes of the connection of TWA and LEAP.

Thank you LEAP for opening your doors to me and allowing me to come in with the TWA team and just make us feel at home. From the very first day you told us that we were not visitors, and from that day I have felt like a teacher here. I feel like this is my school, my home, my learners, and my friends and family. Every day that I walk in and stand in front of my Grade 10's I get this feeling that I cannot explain. I look forward to teaching them and hearing their  questions and listening to their logic on why they think an answer is correct or incorrect. The LEAP staff has been so compassionate and trusting to allow me to come into a science department and teach and have a space that I can bounce my ideas and get input and feedback. In addition, I have been allowed to get their ideas and pick their brain to help me grow and become a better teacher.

Thank you to my wife really pursed me to follow my dreams and goals no matter what the cost maybe. Thank you so much for that push and constantly supporting me and having my back. I know  2 months away from each other can be a long thing, but knowing that I am loved and supported was such a huge part of this journey. Thank you so much for that and I love you.

If there is anyone I am leaving out I truly apologize. I am writing this   as I am reflecting that I only have two weeks left here and I am on a break before I begin teaching my next class. Thank you all very much! I love you all!

With Love From South Africa

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reflection weekend update

Malo- I have been practicing my Xhosa... :-)

Its Monday! I had to ask my students what today's date was because I had no idea what day of the month it was. When they told me that it was the 26th, I couldn't believe it. It truly was not possible that this was the last week of July and that August would be beginning soon. I guess the saying is true that time flies when you are having fun... :-)

This weekend was an amazing experience. I am entering into my second week of my homestay in Langa which unfortunately is coming to an end soon. I cannot think TWA enough for giving us the opportunity to be able to experience living in the township and connecting with our students on a deeper level.

On Friday, one of my host took myself and several other TWA members out to Khayelitsha which is another township. We went to several places and had one of the best times I have had here in South Africa. It was so nice that every place we went to we felt so welcomed and people didn't mind having us there. They knew we were obviously visitors, but they wanted us to enjoy and feel like a part of the community. I had the time of my life there and was so greatful that our host gave us the opportunity to experience this.

On Saturday, we headed out to a farm to have a day away which was an exciting day. It was so nice to be away to just sit outside and relax and have time to think and reflect. Probably the highlight of the day/night was the braii and the great food as well as going ATV'ing in the dark on this trail. It was so much fun. I definitely felt like a kid again as i was laughing to myself while driving.

Well today marks a new day in the work week. I just finished marking the test that my students took on Friday and I was so excited  that over 90% of them got a 90 or higher. I don't hink I have ever graded tests so quickly as I did on Sunday. I was just so excited to see how my students perform on the test. I had a great opportunity today in class to reteach a topic that a lot of my learners struggled with on the exam. I am learning so much about teaching and developing skills and practices that are helping me become a better teacher. I absolutely am loving my time here in LEAP and South Africa. I don't want to think about there only being 2 and a half weeks left before my return to the US.

Hopefully I will have some time this week to update more about what life is like teaching and co-teaching here at LEAP.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Teaching update and Living in Langa update

It is Wednesday! Half way through the work week. That is a great thing and also a bad thing. It means that I only have a few days left of lesson planning and teaching to do this week, but it also means as each day passes by it is getting closer and closer to the end of my time here in South Africa that I do not want to think about.

In the last few days I realized how much I have taken lesson planning for granted. I have been used to teaching the same content and curriculum over the last few years and just revamping and adding things or deleting things from the curriculum. While I am here in South Africa I have been lesson planning and doing work every night. Back home I feel like I probably would have complained about the amount of time I was putting into planning my lessons but I have enjoyed it. It has been refreshing to teach new content and curriculum. There have been some great lessons that I have taught and then there have been some lessons after there were done that I wish I could have had the chance to reteach and make them more interactive and hands-on.

I am trying to integrate hands on activities, group learning, and student centered teaching into my lessons here at LEAP. Somedays I do that better than other days.

Today marks Day 4 of Living in Langa. I will try and give you a sense of what my days are mostly like. I apologize for the Day in the life format that I will be writing this in... :-)

Each morning I wake up at 6:00 AM and get ready for the day. My host family consists of a grandmother, her two daughters, and then the two grand-daughers. The family is incredible. They are extremely nice and generous and a pleasure to talk to. It feels as if I am home with my family. It is easy to see that the family values education with the two youngest grand-daughters who are striving to get an exceptional education. I leave the house around 7:00 AM and walk to where the LEAP bus picks up the learners in the morning.

The bus ride is about 15-20 minutes depending on traffic in the mornings. The first class begins at 8:15 but I only have that for two days during the week. I am teaching in a grade 9,10,11 class and observing my mentor teacher in her Grade 12 class. The two weeks of teaching has been a great experience. I have learned different classroom management styles, experiemented with different ways to teach lessons and conduct labs.

The last class finishes at 5:15 and then we go straight to the bus to take it to Langa. The ride home sometimes is longer due to traffic. I get dropped off at the same bus stop and then go home. I haven't had a chance to explore Langa but I did get a great opportunity last night to talk to two LEAPSA's about Langa and the different struggles and hardships that different people face in the tonwship. I don't want to come off as comparing a tonwship to some living conditions back hom but it was very interesting to hear how people in both places have the same mindsets and ways of thinking about things. I will go into this in more details in a follow-up post.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

South Africa update

When I first started this incredible journey I thought I would be able to blog on a daily basis and constantly writing in my journal. I definitely realize now how unreal that expectation was. There are some nights that after dinner I am so exhausted, but exhausted in a great way. I love that every day I am challenging myself both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. The students that I have the privilege to teach keep me mentally sharp everyday with their outstanding questions and insight into the topics we are teaching.

I will give a quick update on how things have been going.

The Teach With Africa program has been incredible. The teaching fellows that I have had the chance to work with so far this summer are some of the most amazing, intelligent, and hard working individuals that I have had the chance to work with. In addition to living in a house together with over 15 people it has created some great times to develop bonds with each other.

In the last couple of weeks I have had the chance to do some extraordinary things and to soak up South Africa.

The picture you see above was taken by my roomate as we were leaving Langa where we had the chance to watch one of the LEAPSA's have a soccer practice. My roommate and I conditioned with the team, which including running drills and other exercises. After I finished the workout, I truly realized how out of shape I am. South Africa loves meat, just as much as I do. I don't think I can count the number of all meat meals that I have eaten without any vegetables.

I had the chance to hike up the historic Table Mountain. Everyday when I am walking to and from school, there is Table mountain in the background. It is an amazing sight to behold everyday while I am here. I was able to hike up there with one of the other TWA fellows. It took us right at 2 hours for the hike. Being that I am a hiking amateur, I was very proud of myself for completing it. We thought about hiking down, but we took the table car down which was a great journey.

2 weekends ago I went kayaking out in the Atlantic Ocean to see the penguins. This was only my second time kayaking but I am definitely hooked after I did it the first time with my students in Puerto Rico. Kayaking was definitely a big arm workout. Since it is winter time here in South Africa, the water was definitely cold and of course I would forget to bring a change of clothes, but I was able to dry out standing in the sun. I am so glad that I decided to go kayaking. It was truly an incredible experience.

The picture above is the next incredible step in my journey of being here in South Africa.  In about an hour I will be headed to Langa. Langa is a township outside of CapeTown that a majority of the students that I am teaching come from. Langa is one of the townships that was set up during the apartheid era in South Africa, and a place of residence for Black South Africans. I have been to Langa several times now, but not for any extensive amount of time. I will be living with a host family there for two weeks. I am extremely at the opportunity to live in a community that has experience so much hardship and struggles. I definitely encourage you to look up or simply "Google" Langa to see pictures and the history behind this township. I will try to update as much as possible when I have time and can get to a computer at school.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting Caught up on Blogging: Children's Day Care and Learning Center

As you can see I have definitely fallen behind with my blogging. Luckily I have been trying to journal when I have a chance, but I am definitely taking pictures as much as possible as well. I am categorizing my pictures so I can remember everything that I have done and what I would like to make a blog about. 

It is so hard to believe that 3 weeks ago today I was arrive in South Africa. I am sitting in the same place outside where I wrote my first blog here in Africa. It is another beautiful day here. It is chilly but its a great day to sit outside. Unfortunately the Cape Town winter is going to set it in tonight and tomorrow and it is going to be very cold and rainy .

It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog.... but I feel like it is a very important topic to write about. As most people know South Africa, but Africa in general has a huge HIV/Aids epidemic. For me I have always known this fact and known that it is a huge problem in the US as well. However, being a person that has never had anyone that I know of impacted from this huge medical crisis, it never has hit home from me.

Look at the picture of the kids above. This picture was taken by a grade 10 student that I gave my camera to for the day and I said go around and have fun and take pictures. The faces of those 3 kids gets to my heart every time.

About two weeks ago with visited the Etafani Day Care center.  http://www.etafenitrust.org This day care center  primarily tends to young kids who are infected with either the HIV virus or Aids. When I was here at the center I don't know what I was doing, but somehow I missed that information that was being said. As soon as I saw the little kids in the preschool I was so overjoyed. It is something about little kids that just brightens up my day. I am always joking and saying that I want to have a baby or a little kid because they are so cute and adorable... until they grow up and become the teenagers that I teach on a daily basis... :-)

However, I had the best time sitting down and playing with these two little kids with legos. This one little boy was having so much fun building lego blocks. Then he would take them apart and give me the legos and I would build something, show him, and then take it apart and he would build something different. I could have spent a whole day there and would have been the happiest person ever.

Then as we were walking around the daycare center and seeing the other parts of the center that were there for not only little kids but resources that are their for adults I heard more about the center. As I left the daycare I was informed that all of the kids that had been in the daycare center that I had just played with where infected with HIV or Aids. My mouth dropped and my heart sunk. Wow! Words could not express what I was feeling at the time.

Typing this I become emotional because I wish you could see the joy that was on these kids faces. I mean just look at the picture that is above. Those kids were so amazing. Those three kids who look so happy are dealing with a life long infection. These children did not asked to be born with this infection. It just really brought into my perspective the widespread issue of HIV and Aids. I am just glad to know that agencies like these exist to help children enjoy the years that they have. It truly makes me appreciate my life and health and value others who are giving so much of their time and effort to help people live a quality life for the years that they have here on earth.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Day of Teaching

Yesterday was my first day of teaching in South Africa. I woke up in the middle of the night with feelings of anxiety and anxiousness. I had been waiting for the moment to enter into the classroom and do what I love so much. However, all of a sudden it hit me that I am in South Africa, and I am going to be standing in a class with students looking at me to teaching them and be the expert. On the outside I tried to remain calm but on the inside I was a complete wreck.

I was finally able to fall back to sleep, but it seemed as soon as I did my alarm was ringing and it was time for me to get up. I was able to have breakfast and then started my walk to school. The entire way I tried to remain calm and confident but again I was nervous on the inside.

This week we are doing workshops for Grade 7 and Grade 8 students who live in the different townships. These students have been working on math and science for the last couple of weeks while the schools here in South Africa are on holiday break and World Cup break. The tutors that are running the program wanted Teach with Africa to run workshops on different life skills. There are workshops being held on Study Skills, Writing, Leadership, and Journalism. I decided that I wanted to do a workshop on leadership. I feel like developing leaders in middle school is such a huge need that both the South African society and American society need to tap into.

Once I was assigned a class to enter, I started feeling extremely nervous. However, as soon as I saw the 20+ students and I was in the class, all of those nerves just went away. It felt as if I had already met and taught these students before. I couldn't believe how at ease I was. In hindsight, I realized that this is the same feeling I had on my first day of teaching and the same feeling I get on the first day of school every year. However, once I heard the kids say their name and then they said my name it was like I had never left my class. When my time was up with the first class I didn't want it to be over. Luckily, I had a great first class. They were amazing and so eager to participate. I didn't want out time together to end but I knew I would have another chance to continue with the second class that would come in after lunch.

As I was leaving and walking back to the house I just had such a profound realization. There are many days that I complain about life and complain about my job, but I know that I do what I do for a reason. I am a teacher for a reason. I love what I do. I especially love the middle school years. Something about working with students who are the future is very invigorating. There are some amazing days in the classroom and there are some days that just go horribly wrong in the classroom, but that is part of teaching. I know that my calling is in education. Especially as I enter the time of my life where I start contemplating the next step in my career with education, I am glad that I have this sense of rejuvenation and excitement.

My goal is to work on blogging more and especially doing more stuff with the Flip Cam. Once I start working with the LEAP students I will be doing some projects with the Flip Cam and posting more pictures.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pictures from South Africa

Below are some pictures from the first week of South Africa.

The picture above is Table Mountain. This was taken at the FIFA World Cup Fan Park where we watched South Africa defeat France. 

Above is a picture of myself and a Grade 12 student at LEAP. I had just purchased a South Africa scarf for the game versus France. One thing I did underestimate was the temperature here in Africa. Generally during the days it is around the mid 50's to mid 60's and at night the temperature drops around the mid 30's to 40's. Sometimes it feels much cooler inside than outside. The weather has been amazing so far for the first week.

The food above was absolutely amazing. This was at an authentic South African restaurant where they take students and help them enter into the culinary profession. This was a meal shared with both Teach with Africa Fellows and LEAPSA's. There was chicken, cabbage, samp and beans, rice, tripe( which is the intestines of usually cows or other animals.... actually was really good and tasted like chicken as the LEAPSA's told me), and pap which is absolutely amazing. Nothing like great starches.

In South Africa there currency is called the Rand. Roughly 7 rand equals a US Dollar. The pictures on the money is absolutely amazing.
These are two of the amazing people I am working with this summer. Jamie and Jen. In the background you can see the majesty of Table Mountain. In addition, you will notice the famous World Cup vuvuzela horn that has caused so much controversy and that you will hear all throughout South Africa and at the World Cup matches.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cape Town-Saturday

So most of the Teach With Africa team has now arrived. It is so nice to finally not just be the only person that has arrived. It was very exciting to see members of the team that I had not seen since orientation in San Francisco. After a few minutes of everyone arriving and quickly settling in, we headed to LEAP. LEAP is the school that we will be working at over the next two months.

When we got to the LEAP we were greeted by the LEAPSA's. The LEAPSA's are the alumni association of LEAP as well as alumni who want to become teachers. They were having a meeting and then welcomed us by singing. Once I heard the African singing I knew I was going to feel a flood of emotions. Words cannot describe how I felt listening to them sing. It was such an amazing experience. This is when it definitely hit me that I was in Africa.

We had a quick lunch and a chance to talk to some of the students. Later in the day I had a chance to talk to John Gilmour who is the founder of all the the LEAP schools. What an amazing guy to talk to. I am looking forward to learning so much from him and being at LEAP.

Later that night we headed out to get dinner and have a few drinks. We were able to sit and watch the Cameroon World Cup game. Once I got home I crashed after being completely exhausted. I cannot imagine what this amazing experience has in-store for the next two months.

Friday, June 18, 2010

15 hours of flying.... I am in Africa!!!!!!!

I am writing my first post here in Africa! I cannot believe it! Words cannot even describe what I am feeling right now. I have been take pictures and using the Flip Cam to record this amazing experience.

Here is a quick recap of what my life has been like in the last 24 hrs... :-) Hopefully I can get it all in before my hour of Internet time runs up.

I departed Philadelphia at 2AM on a Greyhound bus. There were only 12 people on the bus. It was the best bus ride ever. The only problem was that it ended to quickly. It only took us an hour and forty minutes because there was no traffic.

When I arrive at Port Authority the subway was closed at that section and I had to carry all my luggage up 4 flights of steps... Talk about an early morning work out.

I then decided that I was going to take a Taxi to JFK. Of course I ended up with a very entertaining taxi driver. I just wanted to sleep but I got to hear his whole life story which was entertaining.

I arrived at the airport at around 4:30 and of course I couldn't check in until 7:30. Luckily I found a great spot of a nap... and looking at the drool stain I had on my shirt I must have had a good nap. I then killed time in the airport and get some food and waited until it was time for me depart.

As I boarded the plane I had so many emotions running through my head. I was excited, nervous, anxious, and just didn't know what to really expect. Luckily, April had written me a letter that was in my wallet that I read and that put me at ease.

The person next to me was a good seat partner and I had the window seat. Lunch was really good I had Lamb Stew and then the plane was dark and most people slept. 15 hours seems like a long time.... and it definitely is when you are sitting down in an airplane.. however I made it and was able to watch 4 episodes of Glee.. :-)

Now I am waiting in the Johannesburg airport on my way to CapeTown. World Cup fever is crazy here! It is so amazing to see people so passionate about their country in sports.

Well thats all for now... off to take a nap before I fly to Cape Town!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Off to South Africa

I cannot believe that as I am writing this I am finishing up my packing process for South Africa. My next update will happen once I arrive in South Africa this weekend. 

South Africa here I come... :-)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup

The World Cup officially began on Friday with South Africa playing Mexico. When I was briefly watching the soccer game it hit me, that a week from now I will be in South Africa. That thought flooded my mind with so many emotions. I have been thinking about this and preparing for this since December and now I am facing my last few days here in the US before spending two months in South Africa. Just watching the World Cup game and seeing the atmosphere inside the stadium just gave me chills. I can only imagine what the excitement and buzz must be like right now in South Africa with the World Cup. I have no idea if I am going to be able to see a World Cup game or not, but just to be there with this event going on will only add to the great experience I am going to have. I am so excited to meet the students I will be working with as well as the South African teachers I will be working with and gaining so much information from there. As the days pass by the excitement is going to continue to grow. Soon I will be posting my first blog from South Africa... :-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

getting closer.... :-)

So in two weeks.... at this time I will be in my 10th hour of a 17 hour flight to Africa.... :-)

As I write this nerves and excitement are definitely kicking in. I can remember back in December when I was thinking about applying to Teach With Africa and thinking about how this day would never come. It would take forever for June to get here... and now as I write this I only have two weeks left in the US. I cannot wait to experience this life changing event.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Educator, not a Teacher!

I accept not only the responsibility to instruct my students, but the responsibility to take advantage of the opportunity to stimulate and excite young people educationally.

I accept the responsibility to encourage my students to believe in themselves, and I will do this by helping them to develop specific awareness of the power that each one of them possesses to determine their own destiny.

I will challenge my students to reach just beyond that point where they are comfortable, so they will discover that their own perceptions of their potential are not their true limits.

As I set challenging tasks and goals before my students, I will guide them through the specific steps that will enable each one to reach these goals. This setting of high standards and giving the proper guidance to achievement will enable my students to become aware of their true potential, which is, through step-by-step disciplines and hard work, to go beyond what they ever thought possible.

I will take advantage of the opportunity to guide my students to a concrete understanding of their own abilities:

•to question, rather than to just accept what they are told,

•to seek answers, when there are no simple solutions,

•to seek to understand, when true understanding requires grappling and wrestling with difficult concepts and ideas,

•to reason, using their own minds as sources of original thought,

•and to become contributors to, rather than just partakers of, the well-being of the world in which they live.

My educational goal is the empowerment of my students.

By Barbara H. Wagner

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Teach With Africa Training Weekend

This weekend we had trianing for Teach with Africa in San Francisco. I had quite an adventure getting to San Francisco. I left Philadelphia on a 6:00 PM flight on Friday. However, the plan in front of us stalled out, so we had to go back to the gate while the plane was towed off the runway. Then a huge thunderstorm came out of nowhere and we were delayed. All planes were grounded. About an hour later we were cleared for departure but then it started raining and lightning again. We were about 2 1/2 hours late leaving for Denver. Once we got to Denver, I had obviously missed my connection to San Francisco. Fronteir Airlines said there was nothing that they could do. I was stuck in Denver at midnight and had to find a hotel and the earlies that they could gurantee me a flight was on Sunday at 12:30. Luckily, I was able to find a hotel at around 2:00 AM in Denver, and fyi... It was freezing outside. I totally forgot I was in Denver when I walked outside and was so called. I got about 3 hours of sleep and then went to the airport and did standby, hoping to get to San Francisco as soon as possibly. The 8:00 AM flight was full, so I went back to customer service and a new person was able to book me on the12:30 flight. When I got to San Francisco on Saturday, I was mesmerized. This was my first time on the West Coast. It felt like I was in a whole new world. I arrive to training right at the end of the session, but it was good to meet the other teaching fellows who I would be travelling and working with in South Africa. I left San Francisco on Monday morning so excited and counting down the days until South Africa. Everyone that I am working with this summer has such an amazing story and work experience. I am looking forward to sepending two months working with these amazing teachers and professionals. It was a great weekend that truly put me at ease with some of the anxiety and nervousness that I had been feeling over the last few weeks.

Monday, May 10, 2010


This picture says it all. I cannot believe how anxious I am for it to be June 17th, where I am on the plane headed to South Africa. However, I also realize how much I have to get done before that time and I wish I could turn back time or add in more hours of the day to get everything done. It is amazing at how quickly time goes by. One of my previous posts had 60+ days until South Africa, and tonight as I look at the calendar I am now down to 35+ days until I leave. So crazy! This weekend I am excited because I am flying to San Francisco for the Teach With Africa orientation weekend. I will have the chance to meet all of the other Fellows that will be working this summer in South Africa, and find out more about what my life will be like for two months working at LEAP. Words cannot even express how excited I am.

Below you can find the link to the bios and information about the wonderful people that I will have the chance to work with and live with while I am in South Africa.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Importance of Education

So recently I have been thinking about what my life has been like as a teacher. Just like with any job there are some amazing days and then some days that drive me crazy. However, everyday I know I am so proud to call myself a teacher. I know that education is so important. Teaching this year in Philly has been an amazing experience. To work with some students who are so concerned with education and know that education is the key to their future and success. I am so happy to call myself a teacher.

I cannot wait to take this excitement with me to South Africa and continue to work with students this summer who know that education is the key to their future.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Teachers Make

Here is a video from YouTube that reminds me why I decided to become a teacher.

I cannot wait to share my passion of teaching and working with students in South Africa.

What Teachers Make Video Clip- Click Here

This is one of the most inspirational people and quotes in education.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

2 months!

I cannot believe it is 2 months until I will be on a plane making my 17 hour journey to Cape Town. There is so much to get accomplished in two months to be prepared to leave. I am getting excited and nervous all at the same time. For the next two months I will be preparing to work on my curriculum for school because when I get back the school year will be starting all over again in two days after I return... :-) I am really looking forward to becoming rejuvenated and invigorated teaching such amazing students in  South Africa.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What is Teach With Africa?

(Taken from www.teachwithafrica.org).
Teach with Africa works to break down the economic and social barriers to education in Africa by sending teams of educators to implement projects in underserved communities through an exchange of teaching and learning.
By integrating their experiences into curricula and educational programs†after their return to the United States, these educators will enhance opportunities for African and U.S. students to enrich their educational experiences and identify themselves as "global citizens" through authentic connections, ongoing dialogue and shared learning.

Click on "Video of Teach with Africa" below to find out more information about this wonderful program.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Information and Fundraising Letter

April 11, 2010

Friends and Family,
I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to South Africa this summer and teach underprivileged students as a teaching fellow for Teach with Africa (www.teachwithafrica.org). As Nelson Mandela recognized, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
           As you may know, I currently teach 7th and 8th grade science at a charter school in North Philadelphia. My school strives to close the achievement gap that currently exists in the public school system among students of low economic status.  In the last 5 years of teaching children, I have seen the immeasurable difference that dedicated teachers make in the lives of their students.  
            Recently, I applied to become a fellow in a two-month summer program in which highly qualified teachers from the United States travel to South Africa to teach along side South African teachers in a charter-like school for underprivileged Cape Town and Johannesburg students. The LEAP school was designed, much like my charter school, to serve the students that were falling through the cracks of their social climate.  LEAP schools have been modeled after American charter schools, in that they have extended hours and focus the majority of their instructional time on math and science, skills that can create positive outcomes for their students. One third of LEAP students are AIDS orphans, but the school focuses on overcoming obstacles and not letting your past determine your future. I would be serving children who have been abandoned by their government and their history after Apartheid.  I would be giving them to opportunity to free themselves through education.  
             I was accepted as a fellow, but because of the economic condition, I was not granted funding for the trip.  Room, board and airfare will cost $5,000 out-of-pocket. I am willing to do whatever it takes to enrich the lives of children who have been devastated by the legacy of Apartheid, but I need your help.  Just click on the Contribute page on the Teach with Africa webpage (www.teachwithafrica.org). Every tax-deductable dollar you donate can go directly to my journey.          If you make a donation, please also send an email to Amy Schoew, Executive Director (amy@teachwithafrica.org). Please let her know that your donation should be allocated for my trip.
In order to encourage you to contribute, and to show my commitment to this program, I pledge to match any donations made by my family members and friends through the end of June (to a maximum personal contribution of $1,500).  If you have any questions for me, please email or call.  Also, feel free to forward this email to anyone else that may be interested in taking part.  Thank you in advance for your consideration of this life-changing opportunity.  


*For tax purposes, please note that donations are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, as no goods or services were exchanged for your donation. Teach with Africa Tax ID # is 26-1649233.

Teach With Africa

Teach with Africa is the organization that I will be a fellow for this summer. Please check out their website and see the amazing work this organization is doing for students in South Africa.


66 days until a life changing experience

In 66 days I will be leaving for a life changing event. I have been accepted into the Teach With Africa 2010 Fellows program. I will be spending two months in South Africa with other teachers from the US working with the South African Leap Schools to help close the achievement gap. Words cannot express how excited and anxious I am about this opportunity. This blog will follow my experience over the next several months as a dream of mine is soon about to become reality. More information will be posted over the next several weeks.

Please check out the following website: www.teachwithafrica.org

This will give you some more information about the Teach With Africa program and what this organization is trying to accomplish in South Africa.

I cannot believe that in 61 days I will be on a plane headed to South Africa.