gmhTODAY 17 gmhToday Nov Dec 2017 - Page 103

This year in South Africa we sang for a packed house at a festival in the township of Tembisa at the Moses Molelekwa Art Centre. This event was seeded years ago in a friendship with Oupa Malatjie, the founder of the Tswelopele Performing Artists, when our students gathered with his in a small room to sing together. Eight years later a student writes: “The performance of the final show might be the most fun I’ve ever had doing a performance of any kind. The crowd was so full of life, clapping and cheering at every opportunity…When we sang a South African-ified version of ‘Stand By Me,’ I sang a duet with one of the Tembisan girls named Ellen. The crowd cheered so loudly during it that I could barely hear myself. By the time it was over, I didn’t want to get off the stage, but I had to…This trip has been packed with eye-opening experiences, but our three days at Tembisa might just be my favorite... So many things happened with us and those kids, and I feel like I’ve known them for months. They welcomed us into their musical world, and I’ll never forget what that world truly is. Music is the heartbeat of South Africa, and I hope I never stop hearing it.” – Carl Ward, 11th grade From an earlier experience, a classmate writes: “Another moment that stuck out to me was when we were walking through the Langa township near the LEAP School. We walked into one of the rooms where three families were living…In the room, there were two twin beds with about one and a half feet in between. We learned that the older woman sitting on the bed had lived there for 40 years. My heart sank to find this out. I had read and heard about the townships, but until I was standing in one, it never truly sank in… To hear that 30 people were living in such a small space with so little made me feel useless and unsure of a way to help. The moment of looking into this woman’s eyes stuck with me the whole trip.” – Sienna Clifton, 11th grade Juniors meeting a longtime resident of Langa township. In a similar way, a student writes about our visit to a rural women’s cooperative in the Punjab state of India. “After our inspiring interview with Dr. Metre, we split into two groups and went into the villages to see some of the selfhelp groups…Once we arrived, we walked toward a group of about 20 women. They arranged a line of chairs for us and asked each of us to introduce ourselves, which we gladly did…We were all surprised when they wanted us to sing…In response to our song, the group sang their own. Some of the women stood up and started dancing to the song as we clapped along. They took Izzy, Savannah and me by the hand, put us in a circle and asked us to dance. We tried our best to do the dance moves they had been doing moments earlier, but their laughs and chuckles told us we weren’t quite doing them right. Although I won’t remember that trip to the village for our stellar dance moves, I’m never going to forget how much fun we had and how connected I felt to the women.” – Caroline Smith, 12th grade The relationship threads on these journeys are the same for life in general. Many studies show relationships, and service to something greater than ourselves, are the two main determinants of happiness or fulfillment. This is underscored by Bella’s words from our engagement with India’s Pardada Pardadi School. “After we returned to the school and had a short activity, it was time to go... Everyone embraced their new friends. Jassi and Anu grabbed my hands...Tears welled up in my eyes as I hugged the two girls. We stood for a few moments putting off my inevitable departure. Jassi promised to never forget me and I promised the same as I climbed into the bus, with tears now streaming down my face. I looked out the window where Jassi and Anu stood with similarly tear-stained cheeks. As the bus pulled away we waved goodbye to each other…I had only known these girls for a little over 24 hours, yet I made connections as strong as those that I have with friends I’ve known for years. I had no idea when we first pulled through the gates at Pardada Pardadi that I would leave with a new kind of love in my heart, and an appreciation for the openness of a young stranger.” – Bella Bettencourt, 12th grade Before our learning journeys, relationships open the doors to extraordinary opportunities. During the journeys, relationships provide much of the meaning we take from our experiences. It is also true that the relationship of our students to each other deepens in their shared triumphs and challenges. Afterwards, even our relationship with ourselves and our purposes in life are often transformed. Ward Mailliard teaches at Mount Madonna School and is the creator of the Values in World Thought (2-year social studies) course. He has been leading national and international Learning Journeys for decades. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 gmhtoday.com 103 T his year in South Africa we sang for a packed house at a festival in the township of Tembisa at the Moses Molelekwa Art Centre. This event was seeded years ago in a friendship with Oupa Malatjie, the founder of the Tswelopele Performing Artists, when our students gathered with his in a small room to sing together. Eight years later a student writes: “The performance of the final show might be the most fun I’ve ever had doing a performance of any kind. The crowd was so full of life, clapping and cheering at every opportunity…When we sang a South African-ified version of ‘Stand By Me,’ I sang a duet with one of the Tembisan girls named Ellen. The crowd cheered so loudly during it that I could barely hear myself. By the time it was over, I didn’t want to get off the stage, but I had to…This trip has been packed with eye-opening experiences, but our three days at Tembisa might just be my favorite... So many things happened with us and those kids, and I feel like I’ve known them for months. They welcomed us into their musical world, and I’ll never forget what that world truly is. Music is the heartbeat of South Africa, and I hope I never stop hearing it.” – Carl Ward, 11th grade From an earlier experience, a classmate writes: “Another moment that stuck out to me was when we were walking through the Langa township near the LEAP School. We walked into one of the rooms where three families were living…In the room, there were two twin beds with about one and a half feet in between. We learned that the older woman sitting on the bed had lived there for 40 years. My heart sank to find this out. 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