Hey there, it's been too long since we've updated our blog. i wanted to give an update of some new developments w/ my side of the Peace Corps.
here are some of the highlights since i've written last: i found out that the Peace Corps was sending my mail to Chubby Chick (a large organization based here in Potchefstroom - bad news because the modem that was sent to us is lost); we took the train to and from Cape Town (we advise to get the sleeper coupe); i've found a somewhat reliable internet connection that is a free wireless spot; the outdoor swimming pool is open (it's 48 meters by 25 meters)
i began a working relationship with a secondary project called The Gap Year Project. during our IST in September, we were given a presentation from JASA - Junior Achievement South Africa, whereby, I thought it might be a good idea to present to the Gap Year Project. i brought forth the idea of incorporating JASA material/curriculum to the GYP and it was well received. JASA learned of our program and became interested in instituting a Pilot Project for the GYP. since that time, we have presented a proposal to the PC requesting the funding to assist us in covering the costs of the JASA program.
what is the Gap Year Project? the founder of the GYP, Riaan de Bruyn began establishing relationships with the children at the local orphanage in Potchefstroom. he saw a need to equip them with further skills once they become of age and leave the orphanage. once the children leave the orphanage, they present themselves with little or no skills to enter the work force or to have sustained an honest education (being labeled an OVC or being from the orphanage, there is little self-esteem and motivation to be successful at school). Often times, children are moved up to the next grade level without gaining the minimum skills or children are placed in "special" classrooms where their learning opportunities are stunted. Riaan began the idea of grooming potential candidates to participate in a Gap Year Project in a home environment upon leaving the orphanage (at the age of 17 or 18, or once they finish their H.S.) The participants attend willingly and agree to a set standard of guidelines/requirements. The first year is now finishing up and the next project cycle will begin in the mid month of January 2010. The past year's project did not end the way it had been envisioned. The management of the GYP learned valuable lessons and have restructured the design of the curriculum and aspects of learning focuses for the new candidates that will begin in January 2010. During the past year, the participants were not ready for the next level of education that were provided to them. they were enrolled in (what i'll classify as junior college coursework).
the current plan is to secure the new house parents who will live w/ the participants and provide them w/ direction, guidance, and offer them a good influence for their Gap Year experience. the participants will be required to attend the JASA classes which i will oversee and manage, attend a work force integration program once a week (which will provide them w/ their spending money), attend to a community service project once a week, and engage in chores or gardening at their home.
it's looking like the program Outward Bound may be able to assist us in providing our participants with a 2 week wilderness experience prior to their start of the GYP. we hope this works out - b/c it will enable the participants to form cohesiveness and give them a great start to a new kind of living.
amy and i are looking forward to some of our own wilderness experience at the end of December. we're traveling w/ a couple of other PCV's to the coast (towards the south eastern side) we hope to avoid the mad rush of travelers and enjoy our time hiking, canoeing, and relaxing. during the month of December, many people are traveling and going on their "holidays" -