“Is it worth it?”
When I worked at the street school in South Africa, I was often asked this question. The reason I worked there was not for the money: I was paid less than those working in both private and government schools. The resources I had were minimal: a piece of chalk, a blackboard, and access to one photocopying machine. My answer, however, was always the same.
While working at Qhakaza, I felt that I was making a difference in the lives of the children I worked with. I could not change their socio-economic situation nor the environment they lived in. I could help them improve their English and, hopefully, help them get a school leaving certificate. While they were with me, I could help them expand their thoughts through debates as well as expose them to different literary genres. It was definitely worth it to see the smiles on their faces when they connected with Shakespeare or a poem that we explored. It was definitely worth it as I saw them grow in confidence during the many debates and class discussions that we had.
My experience at this school did not only benefit the children that I worked with. I also benefited from it. I blossomed as a teacher: I was allowed to take initiative in my programming and in what I wished to do with the students both during class time and after school. I thrived within the walls of the old factory building. When the school had to close down, I was sad to leave it as I knew that I would not have the freedom to grow as a teacher and individual in a more bureacratic environment.
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015
(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: worth)
Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.