By Pepijn Giesbers

My journey started on the 4th of February, now more than 4 months ago. Two friendly faces (John & Mike) picked Terri and me up at the airport and we drove to Maitland to stay there where our journey started. We were so tired after a long journey in the airplane but in our new home above the office of PS4L immediately we get involved with the Belgium hospitality. Fien Wallays (social work intern from Belgium) offered us a ‘tas thee’ which means a cup of tea. After we talked for hours it was time to get some rest.

Luckily I had two weeks to acclimatise in a totally different environment. So I went on investigation in Cape Town. This means that I went to the touristic parts like f.e. V&A waterfront, Sea & Greenpoint, Observatory, CBD, but also I had my first meetings with Carolyn, Miles and the coaches and went to Factreton Primary School to get my first impression of my upcoming internship and have my first meeting with the awesome Principal Paul. It was supposed to be two chill weeks and it was but on the other hand still overwhelming as well.

But then the Intensive Program started. The 17th of February we had our first meeting with all the CASO students and teachers. Two weeks of learning stuff about a lot of different subjects for example; the use of technology and communication, Community development, Project management and implementation, Recreation and cultural games, Pedagogy of physical education, Leadership empowerment, Cultural diversity and Interdisciplinary engagement. Between those lessons with a lot of theory we had some nice social activities as well. You can think of a visit to the heart museum, WD primary school, the crocodile farm, lion sanctuary the spice route, APD Drakenstein , climbing up the Table Mountain and last but not least a pilot program at Factreton Primary. So as you see a very busy, week with lots of different themes, people and activities. It was nice to learn each other, new stuff, learn stuff in a total different way then I know from my own background in the Netherlands. But I also felt lost in translation of culture and profession. What do I need to do with all the information? I thought I would experience it after the Intensive Program, then everything is going to make sense. So to summarize the IP were two interesting, chaotic and fun weeks, a whole journey on its own.

As I already noticed shortly in the last paragraph, during the Intensive Program we went to Factreton Primary. To get all the theory in practice we had to implement a lesson plan where we combined Physical Education with hand hygiene. This social aspect is an important tool to prevent the children from getting bad bacteria and diseases. With a group of five students from all around the world we made this from scratch. This group included: Eevi Tomperi (Physiotherapist student from Finland), Lieselot van den Broeck (Nursing student from Belgium), Reyana Swano (Life Orientation teacher student from South Africa) and of course myself from the Netherlands as an Social Work student.

After this month full of impressions my internship started. With that the people from the 2.3 program of CASO, included my girlfriend needed to go to George. Two and half week excluded from her, I didn’t expect that it will we be hard for me, but it definitely was. I didn’t knew what CASO expected from me and I also felt insecure about what Factreton Primary, Coach Faiza and PS4L had in mind for me. What can I do to improve myself as a social work professional in the (near) future? I asked myself. The other students need to write a thesis, but I need to fulfill my competences during my internship, I felt lost. Luckily it was nice to work with and for an organization were everyone is working with their heart for those kids. During these first weeks I tried to set up some program’s f.e. intercultural communication, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, boundaries and fundraising for Play Sport4Life (PS4L). But except for the last one I realized that these big subjects weren’t my purposes of being here.

After a beautiful holiday program I left Cape Town to visit my girlfriend and the others CASO-students and finish my orientation report in George. On my way to George I realized again how massive this country is. The Netherlands is three times smaller than the Western-Cape, from the most northern part to the most southern part is about 350 km in a 3 hour drive. I discussed with my lift partners that from my hometown to Paris is the same distance as from Cape Town to George, for me it was not a regular drive as for them. I realized that my journey had just started and that I would learn a lot more about my own and other people’s perspectives.

George was a lovely peaceful town in comparison to the busyness of Cape Town, through writing my orientation report I knew what I wanted to do at Play Sport4Life. So after I came back I only needed to design those lessons that I had in mind and what I proposed in my report.
After 10 days in George I came back in Cape Town. I felt terrible and didn’t knew how to execute my plans. I felt stupid and depended. Why can’t I just do my thing? But how? Luckily Carolyn gave me really important advise. She said arrange a meeting with the principal of Factreton Primary School to discuss your ideas. That was the motivational push that I needed to get started.

So I did, and it was inspiring. Mister McAvoy gave me power to evolve what I had in mind. So he promised me feedback and after that I could begin with my project(s). But then he left for a trip and some other things happened what I made I didn’t see him a while. I said to myself that I just need to say to him that I can do my activities without his feedback and he can hand it over later on. As Paul (the principal) is he was excited and let me do what I had to do. I designed a lesson plan where I let the kids sketch a positive, negative, their own and a future environment. As you can read in this blog I loved it to get those kids involved with each other’s visions.

After this lesson I gave a lesson about showing your emotions and feelings (with body, voice and facial expressions). I used theatre as a tool to let the kids express themselves, because this was a tool I used before and enjoy very much. During this lesson the kids learned through three different games different things. Like for example during the Greeting game they learned to portray an emotion as they know it from a situation or role or figure. But also to learn how to greet someone in real life. F.e. if you are happy, do you respond differently than when you are sad or angry with something or someone? The second game called the fairytale forest. This game aims to become more aware of how you portray emotions with the whole body, voice/sound and facial expression. The last game called Mirroring aims on the awareness of how others express emotions and how you can portray your emotions to others.

The last lesson was about boundaries. During this lesson I learned kids to respect each other’s personal space and learn them how to protect their owns. You can read about this in an upcoming blog also on the CASO website.

So theatre, drawing and playing fits with Play (Sport)4Life because I believe that you can learn a lot out of playing. Trough playing people can learn easier and understand better then when you just explain theory.

So even if sketching, playing theatre and showing your boundaries are not the most sporty activities, it follows the philosophy of what Play Sport4Life is all about: to bring people together and promote (social)health and well-being (by supporting educational advancement and teaching life skills). With designing, organising and reflecting these lessons I learned a lot about myself as f.e. my creative and organising skills in a foreign country.
Unfortunately when I just understood how it’s works to organise these lessons on a school like Factreton Primary School my time was (almost) over. I had a lot of struggles with myself, but I learned a lot about myself and how other people function. Even if it was only really clear to me in the end what my purpose was and what I could bring the kids, I was still very proud of myself.

Me as non-sporty person at all the Intensive Program, PS4L in general and moreover Faiza let me realize that sport has a massive impact on people and in this situation particularly children. From now on I will be more conscious about my own and others (health)lifestyle and inspire people how physical activity can be not only be healthy but fun as well.
I would like to thank everyone who made me realise what a lucky person I am to have been born and raised in a country where I can enjoy the real freedom I know by just walk, bicycle, skateboard, go by bus or train, wherever and whenever I like without any risks as here in South Africa.
And on the other hand learn how intrinsic motivation (read: passion) can share much more love and a way to empower. While in our country social workers often work in very big organisations where they don’t feel the purpose of their work anymore. Here in PS4L people work with their hearts and a passion for their jobs, the kids and communities where they working for.

So thank you Play Sport4Life, Factreton Primary School and CASO from the bottom of my heart that I could be a part of your family and I always will be.
Lots of love,

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