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SA project Manager Vimbai was in Vancouver for the past two weeks. Part of her visit included promoting the Vancouver South African Festival, as well as raising awareness of Education without Borders and its work in the Cape Town Gugulethu area.

Vimbai spoke to festival goers throughout the weekend, and concluded the event with an emotional and inspirational talk about the realities of South Africa, the country’s large income disparities, crime and violence, and what it is like to work with young people facing so many challenges. Vimbai’s talk, sobering at times, also drew wonderful examples of how despite such adversity, Education without Borders is making a difference in the lives of so many students.

Besides the film festival, Vimbai also spoke to various community groups while here in Vancouver. Organizations in the area of dance, music, and the local media got to learn first hand how Education without Borders is working to improve outcomes in the area of education. How we are working in english, arts, and math education, and how we are drawing on local talent to find local solutions.

Vimbai, it was wonderful having you here with us! Keep up your hard work in South Africa, and we look forward to hearing more news from you, Courtney, and the students.

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This past weekend was the second annual VSAFF. The event included the opening gala fundraiser, as well as a host of other films from South Africa.

The event has been for the most part a success, with us raising lots of dollars (rands) through ticket sales, the gala, sponsors, and one off donations from film patrons.

My role in the festival has consisted largely of setting up the ticket management system – hardly a simple task! The system saved us a considerable amount of time as it handled all of the pre-event tocket sales for us, and also helped expose the festival to a wider audience; however, the back end of the ticket site was nothing short of a nightmare, and then add the fact that it took on a mind of its own once the event started….

Anyway, the opening gala had over four hundred patrons, and despite all the problems with the ticket system, we still managed to get everyone happily through the doors and into their seats! – pheww!

Tickets and galas aside, I had the chance to meet Vimbai. Let me say she is amazing, and has everyone so impressed. We are so fortunate to have such a motivated, intelligent, and creative young woman doing such great work on the ground in Cape Town – students, Vimbai is your role model!

Vimbai and I will meet up next week to have a chat about arts projects, books, and how to get students more involved in getting their creative work out (stories, photography, drawing, painting, poetry, music, etc). Looking forward to this!

Well, gotta go, Johnny Clegg film is playing, and I’d like to sneak in and see a bit of it.

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Unfortunately, due to the massive amounts of work that comes with the end of terms around here, I was unable to mention a very important day of the year. On the 10th of November, our very own program manager Vimbai Nyatsambo had her birthday. We had a tiny celebration at the math’s and english program that day, with Vimbai bringing massive amounts of cake. However, what made this day truly special was all of hugs, kisses, and well wishes from the kids to Vimbai. They even did a little artwork:

 

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Fezeka School, local educators, and Education without Borders volunteers have been organizing a series of motivational talks for students. Ted and Roger, two local volunteers who have been involved with EwB for some time, teamed up with EwB project manager Vimbai, and guest speaker Unathi, to talk to 50 grade nine students. To learn more about Vimbai, please visit this page: http://www.educationwithoutborders.ca/node/124

Here is some feedback from Roger about Unathi’s talk.

Dear Unathi and Vimbai,

 

Let me once again thank you, Unathi, for an outstanding presentation. There was no doubt in the mind of Ted, Vimbai and I that you really hit a few nails on the head with your eloquence and clarity. You make a wonderful public speaker. I attach a few photos. I also have some video. All will be put on a disc. I can have this ready for you when you return from France and when we meet I can pass it to you.

 

In one of the videos, you say “it’s not cool to not have a job and it’s not cool to sit at home.” I think this is powerful stuff. The fact that you were once again surrounded by eager learners, demonstrated their wish to learn more from you. The challenge for Vimbai and ourselves is to create follow up from these talks.

 

I also think the message that there are a variety of jobs is getting across. One expressed an interest in meteorology, the other being a pilot and the one that intrigued me was “how do I become a spy?”

 

All good stuff.

Below is a summary of some of Unathi’s key points of advice to the students, as well as some photographs (http://s1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd383/educationwithoutborders/Unathi%20-%20talk%20September%2015th%202011/) – Thanks to Ted Weber for these.

-There is career, a job, and a future out there for everyone

-Make a list of your ideal professions and then think where you are now what subjects you need to achieve this as a main goal.

-It is important to know and to focus now on your strengths

-Choose something you enjoy doing, not what you think others think you should enjoy.

-When difficulties occur, choose a teacher adult role model that you can identify with. Choose someone you can trust and who is respected in the community.

-Look for bursaries in the Sunday papers, the internet, or government training grants through Thetas

-Loosing bad friends early on School is a good thing. It is important to hang out with motivated good friends!

-School is a place to learn and prepare for your future, as well as having fun.

-It is no fun being 25 in a township without a job; so use school as a jumping board to get a good job!

-Unathi, who is a respected wine maker and scientist, discussed how agriculture is cool and how she liked nature biology, the trees, the outdoors, and was good at science. She explained to students how science, biology, and respect for nature are key to improving lives, and that there are many careers in these fields for motivated people and women.

Thanks for all the great feed back Ted, Roger and Vimbai on Unathi’s talk. I look forward to meeting Unathi and Vimbai, as well as some of the students when I visit Cape Town next time!

Glen

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