The teachers at Centre Salisa who are learning the value of project-based learning through Giving Back to Africa’s process curriculum model call themselves the Noyau ('kernel' in French). This phrase evokes the image of a seed that, when planted, will yield fruit. This is what Giving Back to Africa is doing – planting – and this year, the Noyau teachers (5th – 9th grades) and their students are benefiting from the fruit of knowledge they have gained about nutrition. They have just completed 4 of the 5 lessons on nutrition and the Noyau are preparing to teach Lesson 5 soon, which is all about helping their students apply their new found knowledge on nutrition to make a difference in their community of Mpasa.
In preparation for teaching lesson 5, the Noyau took a field trip this Saturday with Dr. Jerry, Giving Back to Africa’s Program Director. They visited a large farm with gardens, a fishery, and animal husbandry all started by a man who has had polio since infancy. Rather than let this terrible disease affect him, this remarkable young man applied himself and has a thriving business. Dr. Jerry also brought the teachers to his own home where they were able to see how Angel, Dr. Jerry’s wife, transformed their small compound with very little means. These teachers must start small and right where they are, as Angel did.
With her own hands, Angel cleared a mess of weeds and rudiments of a poorly planted garden left by previous tenants. She prepared the soil for the planting of nutritional foods to foster healthy eating in her family (Dr. Jerry and Angel have five strong boys!). Thanks to Angel’s perseverance, despite having little to work with, a wide range of local crops are beginning to yield food the family is eating. Not only did Angel cultivate the garden with care but she also saved a local tree, called a maracuja tree, that has long been known to have medicinal qualities.
The Noyau took this trip to foster their awareness that with very little one can start with a vision and from there, with critical thinking and reflection, the vision can become a reality no matter where one starts. THIS is assets-based servant leadership, the foundation of all of Giving Back to Africa’s work with the children at Centre Salisa.
The teachers completed guided field notes before, during, and after the field trip, notes that helped them apply the content of the nutrition modules they had just taught to what they were seeing in the real world. The guided field notes also challenged them to find linkages between the three curricula they have taught over the last 3 years on clean water, waste management, and now nutrition. They reflected on how their teaching could offer the same opportunities around good nutrition that they had seen on the field trip to their own students and the community of Mpasa. “What did we DO, SEE, and HEAR today,” the field note questions asked, “that we can also put into our lessons with students and what action steps can we take now? How is this evidence of assets-based servant leadership?”
The Noyau will begin teaching Lesson 5 of the Nutrition Module next week. This lesson will yield even more fruit as the children will benefit from the applied knowledge their teachers gained as a result of this field trip. Angel’s garden will be a guiding vision for them!