Before applying to the South Africa Program I was very anxious about visiting the country and working in extremely under resourced communities. As I learned more about this experience and the opportunities ahead I decided to take the plunge and to apply for this amazing program. Upon arriving to Cape Town or more formally Muizenberg in which we are staying, I am in complete “awe” of the beauty in the landscape and the inspiring people of the township.
Through my few days in the crèches with the mentor teachers and the children of Vrygrond, my outlook on education, learning, and resourcefulness has changed completely. The principals and teachers of Vrygrond have dedicated their lives to educating the children of the township and to working in the community to make it a better place. This commitment and motivation from the teachers can be seen in their interactions with the children and the love that they bring to the classroom. As an outsider and new teacher in the classroom, I have felt so impacted by my time thus far through the enthusiasm of the children and the warmth I have received from the teachers. I am extremely grateful to be here in South Africa and to learn and grow with my mentors here in Vrygrond! Many more adventures to come! – Courtney Ockershausen
Before arriving in Capricorn/Vrygrond, I had preconceived notions of what I thought the township would be. From google to listening to others who experienced the township and listening to others without any first-hand knowledge, I formed a bias opinion about a place I’ve never been. Commonly, the stories tended to focus on the negative aspects of the area and it clouded my judgement of the community.
When I arrived in Vrygrond, I was surprised by what I’ve seen. The level of poverty and distress in the community wasn’t something I was familiar with. Although I had seen the shortage of resources, I have also seen something much more. When changing my lens from viewing what it lacked to viewing what it offered, I was able to see the beauty, growth and opportunity. You don’t quite understand the beauty of Capricorn/Vrygrond until you are inside. The township showcases how resourceful the people are and showcases their togetherness.They’ve created a community by establishing businesses such as preschools, grocery stores, clothing and churches. They’ve used what they had to build something for themselves and provide services for each other.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Hello, My name is Cynthia, and I have been working in the ECE field for 8 years. I have recently graduated with a bachelor’s from San Francisco State University in Child and Adolescent Development, and a minor in Special Education in 2017. During my education at SF State, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa to volunteer and work with teachers and children. In my 8 years of working in the ECE field, I have experience teaching young children from ages 3 months-7 years old. It has been a rewarding experience because the ECE field provides different avenues to partner with families to be advocates for their children. It has also been a rewarding experience because it provides opportunities to be creative in one’s own teaching practice and to encourage other teachers and teacher assistants in teaching young children. Nevertheless, the children provide a rewarding experience because their creative minds are ready to absorb the world around them.
Hello! My name is Isaac Snyder. I am pursuing a BA in Child Adolescent Development (school-age concentration) and a minor in counseling. I have four years of experience in EC and am beyond excited to continue my passion of working with children abroad.
Hello! My name is Noelle!
I am so excited to be apart of this wonderful experience again. I have anticipated this trip for a long time now. There is so much I am eager to learn about the children, the culture of South Africa, and the culture of the communities we will be working in.
I am from Southern California and moved to San Francisco 4 years ago. I have been teaching preschool for about 3 years, primarily working with 3 to 5 year olds.
I love exploring the city. My favorite places to visit are Clarion Alley (an alley of beautiful murals), Dolores park, and Golden Gate Park.
I am half Ghanaian and my family comes from the Ashanti tribe in the southern region of Ghana. I have been to Ghana many times, which makes coming to South Africa even more exciting because the cultures are so different. My biggest wishes are to form meaningful experiences with the children, listen to the many stories people have to share, and learn about the richness of this beautiful country.
Thank you for welcoming us to be apart of this amazing collective of passionate individuals. You are all amazing!!
Hello, My name is Da’Keisha Allen. I am currently studying Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis in Early Child Education while minoring in Special Education. I have about 2 years of experience working in the Early Childhood field and a year and a half of experience working with children with special needs. My goal is to become a Transitional Kindergarten teacher. I decided to come to Vrygrond to help in the development of the children in the community and to learn from them. I believe this experience will help me be a better educator by allowing me the opportunity to showcase my knowledge and gain more knowledge about children, diversity and learn about resources to meet the needs of each child. I am thrilled to be apart of such an amazing opportunity and I cannot wait to meet the wonderful people I have heard so much about. Thank you.
Hello! My name is Courtney and I have been working with children of all ages for about 8 years now. As for the ECE field, I have about 4 years of experience working with preschool aged children 3-5 years old. In terms of educational experience I have an Associate’s Degree in ECE and I will be graduating this spring with my Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Development with a concentration in school aged child and family with minors in both education and special education. In terms of special education aside from my minor, I do have personal experience in that field which I am able to bring to the classroom into practice. I am definitely looking forward to working with the little ones again and I am very interested in working with infants as I have little experience in that age group. Through this opportunity, I would love to learn more about taking care of babies and to experience infant care in the preschool setting. I am so excited to be working in Vryground and I can’t wait to meet the children and teachers that I have already heard so much about! 🙂
Jacqueline Slayton is a recent graduate from San Francisco State University, holding her degree in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education, and a minor in Special Education. As a first generation college student Jacqueline was fortunate to join The Metro College Success Program, here she found Jumpstart, a national early education organization. Learning how to provide high-quality educational opportunities to all young children of diverse demographics. Jacqueline has worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for four years, working with children ages 5 months-5 years in both creative and play based settings. In her experience as a lead teacher in a publicly funded preschool classroom in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point, Jacqueline has used a bicultural education lens to highlight the children’s individuality to inform the curriculum and strengthen family involvement efforts in her preschool.
Additionally, Jacqueline has engaged in teacher reflection with her community of reflective practice to develop the skills needed to create meaningful relationships with the families and children to gain a deeper understanding of how to support children with a strengths based approach in the classroom and community setting.
Jacqueline also has an interest in international early education and through the EDvance program has been able to spend a summer teaching abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. Her research interests include integration of the African concept of “Ubuntu,” meaning, “I am because we are”, and family involvement to support the success of the child.
My name is Steven Corona and I am from Santa Cruz, California. The degree that I am working on, and will complete by the time I travel to South Africa, is Art Education with a Minor in Education. For me this means more than just making art with children, although that is a huge part of it. Art Education, especially in an early childhood setting revolves more around the idea of integrating how you would go about making art into a school setting. This involves research, careful planning, intention, asking open ended questions, exploration through a wide range of medias, reflection, and gaining a deeper understanding. Currently I work with 4 year olds, but I have worked with 3 year olds in the past. I am very excited to gain a new perspective, as well as much needed experience, in teaching.
Hi! My name is Kristen Rigney and I’ve been in the Early Childhood field for almost two years. By the time I arrive in Cape Town, I will have graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Child & Adolescent Development (with a concentration in Early Childhood) and a minor in Special Education. My experience has primarily been with children ages 3 to 5 years. I am passionate about building positive relationships with children to help them build healthy self-esteem, feel safe in their environment, and optimize their learning abilities. I am so excited to make meaningful connections with other teachers and to widen my scope as an educator as I embark on this experience.
Hello, My name is Cristina Serrano, I have been in the field of early education for about six years now. I just graduated at San Francisco State University with a Bachelors in Child Adolescent Development, with a concentration on early childhood and a minor in Special Education. I’ve worked with children with all abilities from infant age to seven years old. I am really excited to work in Vrygrond because I am able to be a part of a new community that will bring me new experiences with children, will teach me new things as an educator, and will help me grow as a human being.