Spring Has Sprung!: Updates from Giving Back to Africa on Two Ongoing Projects

Students’ Learning Garden

The students are hard at work preparing to break ground on the Students’ Learning Garden. They will compile research on soil, insects, and other essential topics from reading and will be guided by the help of community members. One such group of community members is the staff from the local monastery, which the students visited a few months ago on a field trip. Teachers will also gather information online to share with the students.

On the U.S. side,  we are raising money for supplies needed to start the garden. To find out more about the learning garden and to make a donation , click here.

Teachers Learning Circles: Working with the Lukunga Teachers

At the beginning of April, the College des Savior teachers and Dr. Jerry met with the Lukunga teachers, the group of teachers that they have been working with over the past several months. The teachers shared what they had worked on since the last meeting and what they wanted to practice during the students’ upcoming school vacation. The Lukunga teachers talked about techniques from College des Savior that they want to implement. Virginia said, “I want to act like Mr. Pombo in getting students outside to observe.” Célestin added: “I want to use stories like Mr. Chancard.” Dr. Jerry encouraged the teachers to interact openly. Caro commented that, “CS students are very brave. I will help our students to become like them by sharing this with them.” Photos from the meeting are below.

At the end of April, Dr. Jerry, Mr. Pombo, and Mr. Emmanuel went to visit the Lukunga teachers in their classrooms. They noted the overall safe learning environment among the Lukunga teachers. Ms. Sarah, a 9th grade teacher, was smiling and teaching with patience and encouragement, and the students were active and engaged. In Célestin’s 6th grade class, students enjoyed a game of 20 questions, and in another 6th grade class, Corneille used a technique that the College des Savior teachers employ—outdoor observation. The visit was part of the ongoing relationship between the two groups and the evaluation of their knowledge-sharing. In May, the teachers from both schools will meet at Lukunga for another Teacher Learning Circle.

Students participating in the 20 questions game.

Students participating in the 20 questions game.

A sixth grade class practices their outdoor observation skills.

A sixth grade class practices their outdoor observation skills.

GBA Launches CrowdRise Campaign to Develop Students’ Learning Garden

This year is a huge one for Giving Back to Africa! After three years of learning about topics ranging from to waste management to clean water, as well as applying these topics to work with the community, the students will mark the end of the Sustainability Curriculum with the creation of a students’ learning garden. This garden will not only help students to further integrate the lessons they’ve learned into a tangible, community-based project, but it will also facilitate the further exploration of passions related to agriculture and the environment. The students recently had the opportunity to visit a monastery and observe the various aspects of homesteading there. Participating in the planning and construction of the garden will continue to nurture the seeds of knowledge that the students have planted.

Additionally, the garden will serve as a community catalyst, bringing together community members to learn from demonstration gardens and to continue to build ties with the school and personal connections with the students. The development and maintenance of the garden will foster leadership and management skills, health education, and food security through the encouragement of home growing practices. This garden will have impacts that reach root-deep.

We need your help to make this garden a reality. Please join our CrowdRise campaign and make a donation towards supplies for the garden.  You can access the campaign by clicking here

We are currently looking to purchase the following:

·         Seedlings: $2,000

·         Hand trowels (48 at $5 each): $240

·         Shovels (10 at $20 each): $200

·         Wheelbarrows (5 at $80 each): $400

·         Compost (20 bags at $8 each): $160

·         Fence: $5,000

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·         Total: $8,000

Just think, donating $20 could provide a shovel to help break ground on this exciting project! Please visit our CrowdRise page for more information and share the campaign link with friends and family. Thank you for your continued support!

Students observing and participating on a recent field trip to a local monestary

Students observing and participating on a recent field trip to a local monestary

Let's Celebrate: Learning, Sharing, and Growing Through the Fete de Presentation

In mid-January, College des Savior and the community came together to support the students in their fete de presentation, a celebration and showcase of what they’ve learned over the past few months. A wide variety people were in the attendance, including 60 parents, 14 teachers, 3 school staff members, 2 members of GBA, NGO representatives, and other special guests from the community.  In total, 140 students were a part of the fete.

Dr. Jerry provided opening words. 

Dr. Jerry provided opening words. 

Students and parents gather together. 

Students and parents gather together. 

The event had an official ceremony and presentations from students in the form of skits, poems, and games. The presentations centered on the themes of social connection, conflict management, and teamwork. One group of 4 students put on a skit that involved resolving a dispute amongst friends. They came up with the idea and took the lead in crafting the skit.

The attendees and participants alike were positively impacted by the fete. One even felt inspired to offer books and training to the teachers. Many community members expressed a desire to spread the word about the fete and College des Savior students. The Inspector General Adjunct: “I did not expect that these children would teach us like this. This event should be broadcast on television to get other schools to see it."

Some of the special guests at the fete included 9 teachers for Lukunga, the school that College des Savior has been working to partner with. The Adjunct Director of the school was also there and expressed a desire to continue to build the connection between the schools. “My impressions are good because we saw the kids making effort to present playlets from activities done outside the school. Thus they spoke about the Monastery because they visited it. Really it’s very good and also a good example, and I prefer to see our school following through on our partnership.”

Parents were able to see the kinds of skills that their children are learning.

Parents were able to see the kinds of skills that their children are learning.

It was a wonderful opportunity to further connect the parents to the students’ educational experience as well. One parent remarked that: “Since I’m here in Kinshasa, I have never seen a school presenting activities like what we have just seen at the College des Savior today and I did not know that we have one very great school here at Mpasa. I’m very, very satisfied. I didn’t believe that the kids from this school could do what they have just done today. I’m going to communicate this with others and next year-- you’ll have many kids.”

Dr. Jerry’s son, who also attended, added: “I really appreciate the students’ achievement. They learned the teamwork and the lessons that we can try to teach others. I really liked the initiative that the kids had to make playlets today. I find that it’s good for the future of the education in Congo.”

After the fete, the school as a whole and the parents both had time to reflect on their role in and the lessons of the event.

It is not often that we get to gather so many members of our diverse communities together. We recognize that the students are catalysts for this kind of social cohesion and know that they will continue to inspire people in the Congo, the U.S., and elsewhere. 

Fieldtrip to Monastery Yields Rewards for All Involved

In mid-January, 74 students, seven teachers, three staff members, and three parents took a field trip to a monastery to see a real-world example of sustainability and leadership, the topics they have been learning about in module two of the sustainability curriculum. The fieldtrip began with an introduction from Brother Fidele, the Principal of the Monastery Hostel. The students toured various components of the monastery, including the carpenter’s workshop, the chicken coop and barn, the garden, the store, and the water tower.

On the way to the monastery

On the way to the monastery

Brother Fidele answering questions from students

Brother Fidele answering questions from students

The agronomist explaining

The agronomist explaining

Throughout the visit, the students applied their observational skills, asking Brother Fidele and the agronomist insightful questions. Brother Fidele was amazed by the flood of questions from the students. “I understood that this is a very active youth from questions that these child asked,” he remarked. “This proves they have received proper training and that the visit was not a tourism.” One student asked about the conflict resolution process at the monastery and others asked about the technical aspects of running a homestead, such as threats to plants.

The students’ overarching assignment was to gather information individually and then come together in small groups to share their observations to write a journal article and think about a larger, post-field trip presentation. The teachers and parents assisted the students in the observational process, helping them to note aspects of the visit that they could incorporate into the post-field trip presentation. The engagement of teachers and parents in the learning process strengthens both the experience and understanding of the students and the larger community. One of the parents commented on their satisfaction after moving their child from another school to College des Savior: “Really, I have no words to say.  I do not know what to say. I’m impressed with the quality of the CS education.”

The students displayed their creativity by ending the field trip with poems. They wrote and presented haikus as a gesture of thanks to the monastery for hosting the fieldtrip.

From Beya Beya's group:

We visited the deli.
We visited the initiation house.
We say thank you.
 

From Kanonange's group:

The Monastery is pretty.
An example for our lives.
Thank you for the initiative.

 

From Kashila's group:

The beautiful green garden.
It is always well watered .
I want to know everything.

 

From Malula's group:

1.  Oh ! My God !
What a joy to see good things
I have never seen in my life.
 
2. Oh ! My God !
What a joy to have a good school like the College des Savoirs.
because it teaches us good things.
I saw the Monastery with the College des Savoirs’ help.
Working on the haikus in small groups

Working on the haikus in small groups

Presenting a haiku

Presenting a haiku

The integration of the students into community lives and initiatives exemplifies the importance of the sustainability curriculum. Not only are students learning about and living out sustainability in the sense of environmental awareness, but they are also engaging with sustainability in terms of building a long-lasting, deep-reaching legacy of service learning.

Teacher Learning Circles Aim to Strengthen Cross-Cultural Bridges, Scale Up Successes

Some say you learn by listening, others by teaching. The Noyau teachers are doing both!

The Noyau, the core group of teachers at College des Savior, have become involved in two different Teacher Learning Circles on two continents.

In one, the Noyau are getting to know a group of teachers from nearby Lukunga school in hopes of working with them to implement the learning model from College des Savior at Lukunga.

"Bridge" Over the River: Teaching Teamwork in the Classroom

GBA has the opportunity to work with some of the best teachers, whose consistent and faithful dedication to their students is reflected in their unique classroom techniques. Mr. Chancard recently used creative exercises to teach students about team work as part of the fourth lesson of the sustainability curriculum.

In the first exercise, he used benches to make a “bridge” over a river. He instructed the students to cross the bridge and to help each other along the way, making sure that everyone crossed. Not only did the students have to cross the “bridge,” without falling off, but they also had to do so in a way to end up in the same order in which they started. The students worked hard to support each other and eventually got all of the students across in the correct order.     

First order                                          

At the end

Reconciliation Game

The students also played a conflict resolution game to learn more about cooperation. Mr. Emmanual and Mr. Chanchard explained the game to two students and had the students work though the reconciliation process. Through this type on hands-on, innovative learning, students at College des Savior are receiving enriching educations.

 

                                                                             

Join Us On #GivingTuesday!

Mark your calendar for Tuesday, December 1st! The first Tuesday of December is #GivingTuesday-- a national day of giving; a day for everyone, everywhere to give to charity and causes that you feel passionate about! Here at Giving Back to Africa we will be using the day to reach our goal of 25 online donations (but we are happy to exceed that goal!).

Join us in partnering with the teachers and students at College des Saviors school in DR Congo who are bringing about important sustainable changes in their community by making your donation on #GivingTuesday. And don't forget to visit our updated website (www.givingbacktoafrica.org) and follow us on social media (https://twitter.com/GBAfrica , https://www.facebook.com/givingbacktoafrica)
as we celebrate the day!