After a year of a warm partnership with the Saint Marks School, they were so inspired by the work we do for the youth and community of Kliptown that they invited us to join them in San-Francisco for three weeks. After a wonderful experience in Boston, we found ourselves in this financial and cultural hub in California.
Our first day was filled with excitement, as all of the students and parents welcomed us enthusiastically as we walked into the school. So much was going through our minds as we looked into everyone’s faces. They believed and trusted that we were with them to bring the force of change into their children’s lives. We knew we had to leave a mark. Our goal: to create a production show involving every student, from Kindergarten to 8th grade, and to make sure that by the time we headed back home all of the students had something to hold with them that came from KYP.
From that moment on, our schedules were packed with daily activities with the students. With only nine KYP members are expected to teach all these students, it was a challenge! Each of us taught in up to six classes every day for the three weeks. At times we would have as many as ninety students in the same class learning gumboots and African dance. Not only were we teaching dances and pieces for the show, we taught so much about South African culture, weather, currency, history and languages. We were humbled by this opportunity and experience because none of us ever imagined we would have the honor of teaching international students interested in what we had to tell them.
As the date of the performances neared, we were trying our best to make sure everything was prepared for the show. We got a lot of support from the students, who were hands on help with all the painting, arts and crafts, and stage preparation. They pointed out that one reason they were so able to help was that they had learned so much during our visit about teamwork, being a community, and, most importantly, how to appreciate what they have. They embodied the spirit of Ubuntu, meaning “we are because you are.” This touched our spirits, and showed we had been able to go beyond just teaching facts about our country; we had helped share some of our most important values.
On the 14th of February, the parents and all members of the community came in great numbers. The show started at 6:30pm sharp, and the students did all that we prepared with them. They were so good that many of their parents couldn’t believed it was their children up on stage performing. Some danced, some drummed, some sang our national song, Shosholoza, and the little kids did traditional Zulu dance. It was a powerful performance for everyone, and it made us so proud of ourselves as an organisation.
The relationships we created with the students, teachers, and parents of Saint Marks are ones we are so glad to bring back with us to Kliptown. As we stepped on the plane to return home, we knew we will forever cherish the memories of our time with the community, and the many positive impacts our visit had one all of us.