First impressions

On January 21, I started my adventure. It was the start of the journey to Mafikeng, South Africa, to do an internship at Tsibogang Christian Action Group. More specifically, the internship will take place in the Montessori Kindergarten and an After School Programme of Tsibogang. With a stop in Paris, I flew from Hamburg to Johannesburg. In South Africa I am staying at the Communität Koinonia in Mafikeng.

After finally making it to Johannesburg, the most significant part of travelling was done, yet the most exciting part was still to come. It was still a 4-hour road trip to Mafikeng, and I could not stop staring outside the window. I realized that I am now in South Africa, thousands of kilometres away from home and in a new culture. To my surprise, the traffic works very well despite the (from a German point of view) loose rules. I was stunned by the landscape and even the first animals. After a total of 26 hours of travelling, we finally arrived at what should be my new home for 3 months.

My amazement for the “small animals” started because (again, from a German point of view) the small animals here in South Africa aren´t that small. Especially the spiders and snails are way bigger than I would expect them to be. After I got used to the heat (30+ degrees) and all the animals that run around on a daily basis, it was time to go to the kindergarten in Lomanyaneng. My workday starts in the kindergarten, and at around 2 pm, I get picked up by the driver from Tsibogang Christian Action Group, and we go to the After School in Setlopo. In the kindergarten I try to help wherever I can and in the After School I teach the classes 4 and 5 in maths.

Of course, when I first went to the kindergarten most of the kids looked at me very strangely, but some kids also came to me to help them with the Montessori material. For me, the kindergarten is a great mix of teaching the kids with the Montessori material and playing (oftentimes football) with them. Even though the kids and I don’t speak the same language, we communicate quite well. The language barrier also impacts my work in the After School in Setlopo. The main target of the programme is to teach the kids how to read. That naturally happens in Setswana, so I cannot really help with that, so I am teaching maths.

Both in the kindergarten and in the After School, I could integrate well and also have the feeling that I can teach the kids some skills and knowledge. But I am not only teaching the kids, every Friday I teach the members of Tsibogang with the new laptops. No matter if there is a problem with word, excel or just basic questions for the usage of the laptops, I try at least to answer the questions and solve the issues.

Everything I have done so far, was a lot of fun. I am given the chance to get to know a culture that is unknown to me and I really enjoy every aspect of it.

Helge Laatzen

First impressions