Saturday, April 20, 2013

Beyond Expectations

I have spent this past week in Gaborone at The Learning Center School participating in a conference for teachers.  The purpose of the conference was to refresh, uplift, and encourage teachers from around Botswana as they face the challenges of educating Botswana’s youth in densely populated urban or remote rural settings.

The directors of the Learning Center School are Steve and Pam Workman, with whom I have been good friends for forty years.  When I learned in June 2012 that I was coming with Peace Corps to Botswana I was delighted when Jim reminded me that Pam and Steve had been living in Gaborone for ten years.  Pam even came to the airport to say hello when my Peace Corps team arrived in Botswana last September.  Then, this past January, when the Workmans and their co-workers the Shipes began planning the Refresh Conference, they invited me to present a Basic Counseling module at the conference.

In March Pam went to the Ministry of Education to extend the invitation to the teachers officially.  She was assured by the Ministry that the invitation was very welcome and they agreed to notify 300 teachers from around the country, provide their transportation to the conference, and provide lodging for them.  They expressed their appreciation that someone was contributing to building the capacity of their teachers for the difficult challenges they face in educating Botswana’s youth.  

This week, I have been amazed to watch the efficiency and enthusiasm with which the conference has been executed.  Though this is the last week of a two-week break for Botswana schools, and therefore teachers were more free to attend the conference, the Learning Center School  is on a different schedule and they were conducting classes and last week of term activities throughout the conference.  Nevertheless, they conducted the conference and provided lunch for nearly 400 conference attendees each day.

Presenters came from the States to provide uplifting presentations on Affirmation, Perseverance in the Face of Difficulty, and Special Education strategies for managing students' behaviors. 

I could not have predicted the positive response from the conference attendees.  Their participation, attention, attendance, and cooperation were phenomenal.  They were eager to not only receive all the materials provided during the conference, but they insisted on being able to access and replicate the materials when they return to their schools.  They brought their own flash-drives to download material and one participant even purchased CDs so the material could be provided to those who didn't have flash-drives. People were telling us before the conference ended what it had meant to them and how they were already using the ideas and concepts that were presented.

I am encouraged and refreshed, too.  Tuesday, April 16 begins another term at Ntwalang Junior Secondary School, and I will be returning with a more hopeful attitude and a willingness to keep investing energy into blooming where I have been planted.  I am looking forward to the surprises yet to come!


1 comment:

  1. What an amazing thing and great opportunity you have been afforded. I wish I was there being part of it. Education is the toughest, but most rewarding job I have ever had and love the privilege of being part of the lives of young people. It sounds like you were that cup of cold water that those teachers needed to continue in the battle of the minds. what a joy to serve the Lord in this way. Next time you are anywhere close to Denver, and I know about it, I will make plans to see you. Love and prayers, Lisa