Class this week was a lot of fun and I can definitely feel everyone getting more comfortable with one another.
During class we discussed a number of things: first, we Skyped with Tamarin in South Africa, then we learned how to incorporate more multimedia tools into our blogs, and finally we played South African Jeopardy to see how well we knew our South African terminology. While I greatly enjoyed the game, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t jealous of my fellow classmates who won Peachy Keen gift cards. Nonetheless, I think most people in class would agree that the highlight of the class was our Skype session with Tamarin.
If I had to describe Tamarin in one word I think it would be passionate. While she can be described in a number of ways and has a number of admirable qualities, her passion for educating us about the indecencies South African people have endured, and empowering and motivating the children was something that stood out to me.
While listening to Tamarin’s story about how she became involved in this cause, I was really thrown back by how recently everything we read in South Africa: History in an Hour occurred. While reading the names, dates, and stories discussed in this book was informative I don’t think it ever really clicked for me.
Our talk with Tamarin was that light bulb moment for me.
It was in this conversation with Tamarin where something clicked and all I could think was “Wow… something this horrific happened in my lifetime and I was virtually unaware of it.”
I think whenever the word “history” is associated with something, I automatically assume, regardless of the date, that whatever I’m reading about happened years and years ago and it involved grouchy old men with white wigs. Maybe this is my way of separating myself from events in history that I could not physically imagine happening. More realistically, I’m just a naive little white girl who has never endured something horrible enough to understand, that there really is that kind of evil in the world.
Tamarin also talked about the children we will be working with while in South Africa. As she explained, the children really have no interest in education and their life goals consist of becoming maids and gardeners. While these are fine aspirations, the children there have no real dreams — no imagination. I think if you asked most American children what they wanted to be when they grow up you would get answers like a firefighter, an astronaut, and the President of the United States. Children, generally, have dreams that aren’t necessarily realistic. However, that doesn’t matter, they should have big dreams. These children in South Africa are deprived even the right to dream big, as they have been taught from birth that their future is dim. As a result, school seems like a waste of time and understandably so.
Tamarin challenged us to think of ways to motivate these children, and that is something I’m really trying to do. As an OT major, there are a few things I’ve learned that I think can be applied to our service projects in South Africa. First, we have been taught that for a therapeutic intervention to work, it needs to be internally motivating to the client. I’m hoping, through increased discussion with Tamarin, to find a unique way to motivate these children to help them find a way to enjoy school.
Second, we learn the importance of focusing on ability rather than disability. While the children may not be physically disabled, they are disabled in the sense that they are deprived of resources and imagination. By focusing on what they have and what they can do, I’m hopeful we can enhance the lives of some children.
Finally, adaptability is essential. Regardless of the situation, by utilizing adaptive techniques and thinking outside of the box we can change activities to make them more exciting and stimulating for these children. With this in mind, by focusing on all the things these children are capable of rather than what they are not capable of, we might be able to integrate programs into their lives that they enjoy and look forward to. In other words, we don’t need extraordinary tools and supplies to make and do something extraordinary for these children.
I’m hopeful that maybe I will be able to make some small difference in the lives of a few individuals I encounter while in South Africa. I have not even been to South Africa yet but I already know their stories have changed me and will continue to as I meet new people and learn more about the culture and history.