An Independent School • Grades 5-12
Partnership, exchange, and growth
Partnership, exchange, and growth

by Charlotte Blessing, director of global education

This summer I facilitated the first-ever Lakeside School Global Service Learning (GSL) trip for faculty. The two-week trip was a result of a site visit the previous year to the Limpopo district in northern South Africa. On the original trip, I spent time at a dynamic, multicultural private school, Ridgeway College, serving students from first grade through high school. The school enrolls  students sponsored by Sumbandila, a trust that selects "extraordinary children from backgrounds of extreme poverty and offers them a world-class education alongside a strong mentorship programme." Some similarities between our two schools are the diversity of the student body, highly motivated students, and teachers who go the extra mile to support their students. High on the founder's wish list was professional development opportunities for faculty members, something that's difficult to come by in South Africa. We had many conversations about, "What if Lakeside teachers could come and share their innovative and engaging classroom strategies?" Seeds were planted in my mind and I got to work on a plan to bring a group of Lakeside teachers to South Africa.

Lakeside School is committed to exposing our students to global perspectives and experiences. Part of that commitment is supporting teachers in their efforts to integrate "global into the curriculum" by offering experiences that deepen teachers' understanding and expose them to parts of the world they may not have experienced. Aligned with the goals of the student GSL program, the purpose of the faculty GSL trip was to engage in service learning, develop and deepen global understanding, and build cross-cultural professional relationships with teachers at the partner school in northern South Africa. The faculty – Veronique Brau, Jenny Estill, David Joneschild, and Shekela Wanyama – wrote about their global experiences, just like the GSL students write blogs for families while abroad.

Teachers engaged in a trust building exercise on day one.

Teachers engaged in a trust building exercise on day one.

While in South Africa, the faculty members and I were particularly impressed by a young South African 12th-grade student, Hulisani, Huli for short. Years earlier, Huli had started the only after-school choir because she loved singing. She has been directing and teaching the songs her grandmother had sung for her when she was a little girl. Shekela Wanyama, Lakeside's choir director, worked with the Ridgeway College choir, which performed for us in a big assembly. During the trip we had a conversation about, "What if Huli came to Lakeside to share her passion for singing and directing? What if she could teach our students some of songs she had taught at Ridgeway?" Another seed was planted to strengthen the relationship between the two schools and provide our students with global perspectives.

I'm excited to share that Hulisani, who just graduated from high school this November, will be at Lakeside School for two weeks in Janaury. Her visit is generously supported by funding from Lakeside's Land and People Endowment. Huli will spend the majority of time working with Lakeside's choirs, but also will contribute to classroom discussions in other classes, like English and history.

Here is Huli in her own words. "My name is Hulisani Musekene, I'm 18 years old. I am the first born of 4 kids, I have 2 sisters and 1 brother. To say music is my only interest would be a lie. I'm interested in anything that can allow me to express myself in any form of art, be it dancing or drawing etc. I am very excited to visit Lakeside and I hope to not only teach but learn something from all of you."

Hulisani will be living with a host family while in Seattle and I hope you all get to meet her.

Charlotte Blessing is Lakeside's Director of Global Education. Reach her at 26-440-2833.

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