Week 02 and 03 of our Leadership Academy

Posted March 25th, 2008 in Leadership Academy by Frerieke

By Anasuya Isaacs

The Arts and Leadership Academy is off to a rousing start! We have just completed our third session with the COSAT 11th and 12th graders. Yesterday, we were blown away by the remarkable progress they made from week 2 to 3.

In Week 2, We took them deeper into the distinctions of leadership.
What a Leader is NOT
Leader = Boss: someone who “makes people do things”.
Leader = Center of attention; who it’s all about
Leader = “Them”: anyone else responsible

A Leader IS someone who knows
To Lead is to Serve
To Lead is To Follow
To Lead is to Listen
To Lead is To Risk

A Leader is someone who is always arrives first and leaves last. They learned this the hard way by incurring my wrath. Our first Class starts when everyone is present so that no one is left behind. Most were late, but the last three to arrive came 25 minutes late. Not a great way to start the day. I had to make sure that this behavior ended right then and there. So in my calmest, tone I let it be known that a real leader would not be so selfish and self-centered enough to have people waiting for them (since the majority of them who were late had arrived early to the school and were just hanging in the hallway talking to friends). We reminded them that there was a waiting list so that they were all replaceable and that this was the last time we would have this conversation. It was crystal clear what was at stake for them.

The students explored the impact of wanting to be leader so that they can be everything a leader is not. When they thought about those who embodied what a leader is not, they saw for themselves how things don’t improve; there’s more corruption and abuse of power. They were coached on making a presentation, on what the inner and outer state should be to get their message across clearly. They then began to share the essays they wrote addressing a need they saw in their community and how they would solve it using their role model, the thing they loved the most and a cultural tradition. They received feedback on the thought that went into solving the problem and originality as well as on their use of the proper inner and outer qualities. Most were very good and a few put little time in and it showed! All were taught how to give feedback based on the work, and not on the person, so that they could develop their critical minds. The standouts all came from the 12th graders: Zukile (watch his video!), Nobenathi, Zimkhita, and Ntuthuzelo. Bravo!

The focus of yesterday’s class was team: if one fails, they all fail. They are just one group, one being and they were all going to win or nobody was. They created a buddy system so that no one is late or absent unless in an emergency. They don’t know each other well as they come from all of the surrounding townships to this special school devoted to Math and Science, so to get them to take on buddies to support one another is a big thing.

The students left last week determined to go deeper, give it more team and to expand what they think they could do. They came back yesterday, to our session that were held 1) for three and a half hours sessions vs. the regular two hours and 2) on a day school is closed due to the Easter/ Spring Break holiday. These kids were early, ready, and absolutely brilliant! Their work had improved tremendously and there was pride! Yes, PRIDE in the work they had done. The 11th graders were great but the student who raised the bar was Wanele, the older of the twins, who clearly was speaking the United Nations in his address. Please take the time to watch the video of his presentation. This young 16 year old is the next Nelson Mandela!

The twelfth graders were stellar, raising the bar and encouraging one another to do well. They are really starting to be there for one another as if the other were them. There’s a quote that they are beginning to embody: “You are ‘me’ cleverly disguised as ‘you’”. A true leader is one with the team/community/country.

To lead is to serve! Next we will be putting this quote of wisdom into action very soon! All of the students are starting to get very clear that there is no one coming. There isn’t someone else to come fix their community, their city, their country. They are the ones we are waiting for and these bright lights are going to deliver!

Blessings from Khayalitsha!

Posted March 11th, 2008 in South Africa by Frérieke
What’s happening?

Ok sorry, sorry for the long silence

Lots of you have made complains about some missing stories here online..

What has been happening the past 2.5 months?

They were great!

Peter and I had a great time together. After the kick in his but, the beetle that was rented and the open attitude towards this new place and culture, Peter enjoyed South Africa and we enjoyed spending time together! We worked a lot, we traveled to beautiful places: Drakensberg with Christmas and Krugerpark in Feb, we got to know each other in an amazing and very special way. Having lots of fun, good conversations, special moments….and then unfortunately…Peter had to leave again. 3 weeks ago now. What’s next? We’re both flying high in the sky, following our heart and passions, busy with the projects we have started. We are completely honest and open…what else can we do? Yep: having big dreams! And yep in those dreams I see us together…This whole life is about making dreams come true…so when the time is right we’ll make sure this ocean between us is reduced to two bodies, connected, holding hands..

Today it is exactly 6 months ago that I walked out of that plane in Vancouver and experienced a breathtaking moment: meeting my partner-in-crime (the crime of love). These 6 months have been a real learning curve for both of us. The impact that we both had on each others life is of a huge value. Thank you Peter for being you!

Besides having Peter here with me I met my current partner: Anasuya. We have merged our organizations Umeebee and Let love lead together to Love to The World.

It is an incredible experience to work together with this amazing American black lady and to be strong together to inspire, empower and serve people here in Africa living in underpriviledged communities. If you haven’t seen it yet: please take a look at our website: http://www.lovetotheworld.org/

I am only working freelance at the architectural office now (evening hours) in order to really dedicate my time on working on Love to the World. It is a tough time, because Anasuya and I do not have any funding yet for the activities we’re doing, but we know we have to do them.

Please consider to make a small donation (10 dollar? 5 dollar? any dollar helps!) and help us in this struggle! find our donation details here: http://lovetotheworld.org/donate

Thanks! Fre

From the Township to the Aquarium

Posted March 4th, 2008 in Outreach programs by Frerieke

By Frerieke van Bree 

Cape Town attracts lots of tourists with its beautiful nature, welcoming climate and its famous Table Mountain overlooking the ocean. Tourists love to hang out in the fancy restaurants, luxury shopping malls, along the Garden or Wine route or simply on the beach. 

Money makes the world a very small place: people fly and enjoy the sun for a few weeks on a beach at the other end of the planet. But in the same time does money create separated worlds right next to each other. How can you travel miles and miles from Europe or America and not taking the time to get to know the country you are enjoying that luxury holiday in? How can you lie down on a beach for days, while you know that there are hundreds of people trying to find a safe place to stay, just 15 minutes away?

We LOVE people who do take the time to discover all the separated worlds a place embraces. We DO NOT like tourists who go to the township to take a picture of a cute black child waving at your fancy rented car.
We want to see more people who come, explore and act! We want to see more changemakers in the world!

This is what we told our Dutch friends Matthijs and Naomi when they told us they wanted to join us to visit a township: Great, but only if the people in the township get something out of it!

Naomi and Matthijs were brave enough to take the challenge…

Outreach Cosat

The 9 students that we selected from high school COSAT (center of science and technology) in township Khayelitsha were very excited when we told them they could join us on their free Saturday to make new friends, to explain about their home, their culture, and their dreams.

The first introduction to their Xhosa culture was during the lunch at school. A name introduction resulted in a funny  –kliks- and -klaks- , trying to get this wonderful Xhosa pronunciation right.

We let the students choose which museum they want to go to. You should have seen their faces when we told them they could also choose the aquarium! Wow! Only 1 of the 9 students had ever been there.

After we told the students that it was allowed to ask all the questions they wanted, they didn’t stop! Those children have a huge hunger to learn. They know that education will be their path out of poverty.

The stories in the car were impressive. Lwazi who lives in so-called ‘murder capital’ Nyanga explained his fear to go out on the street. It was great to see driver Matthijs’ face in the mirror, looking around because he didn’t want to miss a word.

The aquarium was a great gift to the students. Exploring everything, reading all the information they could gather. And meanwhile: mouth wide open, smiles on their face. During our milkshakes afterwards we analyzed the experiences together. Sharks, penguins and Sea horses were definitely the favorite ‘fishes’ of the day! Lots of appreciations and a big thank you towards Matthijs and Naomi who sponsored the whole day!

A walk through the Waterfront and some traditional dance moves on music of the Xhosa Street musicians made this day complete. Before we realized it, the sun was setting and we had to go back to the car to return the children all home safe before dark.
This might have been the most interesting part of the day: dropping the children of at their homes. The realization that although these kids are very intellectual, well dressed, full of questions and joy in life….they live in the poorest places, the loudest environments, the biggest dirt, surrounded by violence, drugs and lots of people who do not have the learning skills to create this path of hope out of the circle of poverty.

Matthijs and Naomi got such a great inside idea of life in a township, thanks to the communication with the students, seeing the places they live. For the students it was very enlightening to be out of the township, to interact with people outside their everyday township world.
Wandile told me that it was such an honor to walk around at the Waterfront and to go to the Aquarium. He told me that lots of people in his neighbor hood never leave the township. Public transport is expensive. So unless your job forces you to go and take that 15 min bus ride, you don’t get to town.
We received a message from Peter (founder of Cosat) who had received a message from Qiqa, saying: “Yesterdays trip was nice and fun. Those people were very kind to us, I really appreciate it”

For Anasuya and me it was lovely to realize that the activity we organized had a great impact on the children here in this underprivileged community in Africa, as well as on our friends from the Netherlands. A great success! Check out this video and you’ll see…

See also our gallery for some more Photos of this day..