UM-Flint School of Education and Human Services Interim Dean Bob Barnett, Ph.D., as well as other UM-Flint leaders and students, are in South Africa for a conference on education technology. They have been writing about the topics discussed at the conference and their experiences in South Africa. This post is by Educational Technology (MA) student Danna Fuller.
Thank you for the invitation to share my experience at the Ilanga School.
We were warmly welcomed by the vast South African landscape bathed in sun. Even warmer were the open hearts of Ilanga Secondary School teachers, students, and staff who put aside their own preparation for matriculation (final) exams on this very day to ensure our comfort.
In this place of spare walls Khwezi Nxumalo and I shared our family photos and email addresses. We loved each other instantly and told each other so.
I listened while a student explained that he intends to become a politician in order to build orphanages to help children.
I witnessed "east meeting the west in the south" as Wang Guangfa from Bejing Royal School, Dr. Theophilus Van Rensburg Lindzter of Learning Academy Worldwide, and principal of the Ilanga Secondary School Mr. Hlankanyana expressed worlds coming together in the power of love and learning.
After our gathering in the spare classroom we toured the school complex. My full heart broke as we made our way through rooms containing nothing much but the presence of people.
Bumping along the road back to the Durban University of Technology, my mind searched for ways one person can help students and teachers at the Ilanga School. I can: collect cell phones for the mobile learning project, stay in contact with Khwezi to learn what is needed from her perspective, tell the story to anyone who will listen…
I am profoundly blessed by the beauty of hope and warmth, despite conditions, at Ilanga Secondary School.
I am so very thankful for our gathering and my experience made possible by the University of Michigan-Flint. Thank you, and may you also be so richly blessed.
– Danna Fuller