By Pepijn Giesbers, Academy of Social Studies’ s-Hertogenbosch
Already two months in this country, on this continent and so on the other side of the world. I have seen, done, thought so much but also enjoyed?!
Where I took the first two weeks to acclimatize, they flew by. Where I went to explore the city and culture and already participate in a primary school. What a big difference! In the supermarket there are people for weighing your fruit and vegetables and at the cash register there is a person that puts your stuff in a plastic bag, around taxiing buses in the whole of Cape Town where people (whether or not driving) get out, children who admire you for your skin color, eye color or hair, whilst you are fully investigating which way you go during your work here.
What am I doing here in the far south, why am I here? Maybe I should explain that.
As a third-year social work student, I am doing an internship at Play Sport4life. This organization offers sports to children in the townships of Cape Town. For example, they want to teach life skills to these children through sport.
I do this within an Erasmus+ program. This means that this is done in collaboration with the European government. I am therefore connected to the Health & Lifestyle Programme of Caring Society (CASO) https://www.caringsociety.eu/. Because of this, I work together with other European students from Finland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. These students study nursing, physical therapy or just like me a specific form of social work.
After these two weeks of acclimatization, the 18th of February I started the intensive program. In here, as European students, we have collaborated with South African students from three universities from South Africa. Namely UCT (University of Cape Town) CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) and UWC (University of the Western Cape).
During this intensive program, we learned to prepare physical activities programs in schools and to implement them in interdisciplinary and intercultural cooperation. Various topics have been reviewed to be able to do this:
• The use of technology and communication
• Community development
• Project management and implementation
• Recreation and cultural games
• Pedagogy of physical education
• Leadership empowerment
• Cultural diversity
• Interdisciplinary engagement
This all came together in the preparation, design, implementation and of course evaluation of a Physical Education lesson that combines physical activity with educational information. We chose the theme of preventing bad germs from spreading by washing your hands. We intentionally incorporated indigenous games like tag and ‘cat and mouse’ into our project because we believe that children are more receptive when they are having fun. Our project aims to create bacteria awareness as well as to teach and remind learners about the importance of washing their hands. We will also teach alternative healthy lifestyle methods for learners. Examples of such are taking vitamins, consulting a doctor, getting sufficient rest and so on. Our project objectives and lesson aims will be carried out through physical movement and are learner-centered. We are mindful of the fact that some children may consider this topic as ‘boring’, therefore, we have included fun ways such as song, rhyme, and movement to hold learners’ attention.
After this, it was, unfortunately, time to say goodbye to my girlfriend. Yes, I hadn’t told that yet, but she is graduating within CASO, to be exact in the Empowered Caregiver Programme. She just doesn’t do this in Cape Town like I do but in George. This is 450 kilometers away (that is just as far as from Avans Den Bosch to Paris!), also in the Western Cape Province, but remember that this province is 3 times larger than the Netherlands. If you are interested in her blogs, you can read them via the following link: https://terrisouthafrica2.blogspot.com/.
The good news is that I could now actually start playing at the schools to give Physical Education. I am not an athlete myself, not a sporty person at all, so it takes some getting used to. Fortunately, I do have experience with guiding groups of children through my 17 years of scouting experience. As a result, I have tools to approach children positively and creatively.
Funny to see despite the many differences children want to play and move everywhere. That is why it is important to keep your explanation short and powerful (in this case clear). That is often quite difficult when you are still investigating how you should supervise +/- 30 children (who often do not even have the basic needs of eating, drinking, sleeping and proper sheltering), you have to explain in English, do it under a burning sun and you have minimal experience in teaching Physical Education.
After being able to experience this for two weeks, the schools closed for a two-week holiday. But that doesn’t mean we were on vacation. It was time for the holiday program. This means that we gave the first-midweek sports activities for around 150 primary and secondary school children. These children mainly came from nearby communities. For example, we made sure that children stayed off the street and were not involved with any gangsterism, crime or drugs but were on the move and learned social skills. Because this program was organized outside the schools, children who did not get involved in any education could also participate. Enough difficulties when the structure was lost and you don’t know what to do. Yet this was always found and as I described above, children just want to play and move.
After these intensive weeks, we were given a week off. That gave me the chance to go to see my girlfriend in George. Looking forward to seeing her again, I arranged a lift via Facebook. What a wonderful trip that was, it was dark (because we drove in the evening) and I could not enjoy the view, but I could enjoy the inspired conversations with the driver and fellow passengers. We have talked about culture, religions, races, crime, the purpose of life, everything about the differences and similarities between the Netherlands and South Africa.
After a journey of about 450 kilometers, I finally received my girlfriend in my arms. It was really nice to see her again. I notice during such an international journey, however much or how little you have, love transcends everything in life.
While staying with her, I was able to enjoy the beautiful nature and the peace that prevails here. That is something different than a busy metropolis like Cape Town. Fortunately, I was able to make time to list my orientation. For example, I made this in a report and I expect to discuss this next week with my school and internship. In this way, I hope to be able to meet a well-founded way of working from my orientation.