I had the opportunity to speak at the South African consulate’s office during the last week of February to share a little bit of my experience teaching about South Africa while integrating Project Explorer’s video blogs into the lessons. I want to share my remarks with you so you can get a sense of the impact of bringing the world into the classroom.
Sawubona! Good evening and thank you for allowing me to share a little bit about my teaching experience in regards to South Africa and the importance of being an active global citizen. I think we are all here this evening with the same goals:
- To continue and deepen our own knowledge and understanding of the world.
- To ensure future generations are able to learn about the world in which they live.
I always tell my students that their education is their key to their own individual freedom leading them to fulfilling personal goals of attending and graduating from college. Additionally, education will allow them to determine right from wrong, much like the student activists who participated in uprisings from Soweto in 1976 to present day Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya. To this day, people across the globe are fighting to receive an education, which, in turn, make organizations like Project Explorer all the more important and essential. I would like to highlight three brief stories focusing the past, present, and future in the context of global citizenship.
Learning from the Past! Project Explorer, with Jenny’s vision, has put together an excellent teaching tool recounting the apartheid era in South Africa, in addition to bringing food, languages, culture, and fashion of the country to life for all! Seeing and hearing students trying simple Zulu and Ixhosa phrases bring the idea of global citizenship closer to fruition. I cannot tell you how many students have come to me during this unit to thank me for opening their eyes to other parts of the world. My former student Korine still greets me daily with “Molo!” Also, the connections made between the apartheid rule and the Jim Crow era is clear and students are able to connect similar struggles from around the world.
Understanding the Present! The documentation of Robben Island to the Soweto Uprising to the election of Nelson Mandela has certainly helped students understand and contextualize the world around them. The firm foundation found online has provided many of my students a jumping off point to take control of their own educational interest concerning South Africa. I have been fortunate enough to have Project Explorer visit my school on numerous occasions to discuss some of these historical issues in addition to topics ranging from South Africa’s current education standards to more everyday things like the cost of a Coca-Cola.
Dreaming about the Future! Without learning about the past and understanding today, we ALL cannot fairly dream about the future. With the end of Black History Month nearing, we all owe it to our ancestors and ourselves to not only incorporate all marginalized histories into our own respective country’s narrative, but to continue to share the complete picture with the world, no matter how ugly. This is the only true way to continue to grow and advance as ONE world for future generations. The current struggles occurring in North Africa and the Middle East continue to show that dreams for a more just society are continuing.
To conclude, it has truly been my honor to be here with all of you this evening. Thank you again to the South African Consulate’s Office and to Ms. Jenny Buccos and the Project Explorer team for your ideas, clear vision and fulfillment of connecting the world.
I was lucky enough to be joined by my mother, Ms. Michele Shelby, my New York City mom, Ms. Vicki Saunders, my co-teacher and friend, Ms. Diana Levy, and my friend and South African enthusiast, Ms. Kate Wand.
All photographs are courtesy of Project Explorer.