Sunday, 1 July 2012

Hi there,

As you probably know, I'm going to be spending six weeks this summer in South Africa, teaching Maths as part of the 2012 Warwick in Africa Team. This blog will be my humble attempt to share my experiences with those of you back home, as well as hopefully to help give people in future years a better idea of what going to Africa really is like.

If you do know about Warwick in Africa, please feel free to stick your fingers in your ears and hum for the rest of this paragraph, for anyone not humming - Warwick in Africa is a grassroots charity set up by the University of Warwick only a few years ago. Essentially, the program is designed to enhance education in deprived parts of Africa using a sustainable, replicable and scalable approach. A combination of student teachers, including undergraduates in a variety of courses from Maths and Physics to Politics, as well as those currently on teaching courses such as PGCEs, as well as fully qualified teachers are sent to Africa to work as Maths and English teachers in deprived schools, as well as to run fantastically successful teacher training courses. So far, Warwick in Africa has helped over 90,000 children producing a 50% increase in both attendance and performance in schools we have worked in. This year, we are going to Alexandra and Soweto townships, in Johannesburg, as well as Stellenbosch in South Africa, as well as running a summer school in Ghana and sending volunteers to deprived schools in Tanzania. If you want to find out more please visit Warwick in Africa's Website.

Things that have happened so far: After finding out my housemate, Thea, and I had both been chosen to go to Johannesburg sometime in term 2, we were given several intensive training for our trip, including fundraising tactics, classroom activities and teaching methods and relationship management. (Let's all be friends/avoid each other, chaps).

The rest of term two and early term three was a maelstrom of fundraising activities, working with Thea, as well as Natalie, who will be coming to Soweto with me, we hosted a cake sale at a competition hosted by Warwick Archery Club. Leading to an unfortunate hatred of cupcakes that I still have not been able to shake off. On the upside, Cookie Monster Cupcakes:

The three of us also hosted a fundraising event at Kasbah nightclub in Coventry, working together with Sugandha (going to Alexandra Township, in Jo'burg), and Jack who will be off to Tanzania this summer. As well as organising a raffle with prizes kindly donated by Stormstudios Photography, Le Bistro Pierre, Vinology, Graze and Rubiks Cube.

I also received many kind donations from my friends and family, all of which will be invaluable towards the continuation of the project.

In term 3, we were given our specific placement schools, I will be in Namedi School, Soweto; while Thea is off to teach in Alexandra (Alex) townships, which is sad as we won't be living in the same accommodation. In spite of that, things aren't all bad since I was able to actually meet and start getting to know some of the other people who are coming to Soweto with me, all of whom have been absolutely lovely.

So where am I now? Well, currently, I'm sat in my living room surrounded by boxes, which my boyfriend is attempting to transform into a fort (highly conducive to packing, I think not). But more importantly, I am busy preparing the resources and activities to take to South Africa with me. This includes as many low threshold, high impact tasks as I can possibly remember -
If I have 9 gold coins, one of which is fake, looks exactly identical to the other 8, but has a heavier weight, and I have a pair of scales which I may use precisely twice, how can I find the fake coin?

Answers on a postcard, please.

As well as teaching resources such as maths kits (kindly donated to Warwick in Africa), mini whiteboards, stickers, stamps and giant playing cards.

I'm also trying to decide on the oh so important issues such as, should I cut my hair before I go? Shall I take my hair-straighteners? What on earth am I going to wear? And many others... First world problems.

So, hopefully you'll be hearing more from me again soon, until then, take care!
x Anna

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