An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Stephanie Wright, Upper School history teacher and department head, faculty equity programs coordinator

Stephanie Wright is one of four Lakeside teachers and two administrators on a two-week GSL experience in South Africa (learn more about the trip in this news story). Here, she shares some thoughts about her experience working with local students.

Yesterday, a Sunday, was my first day at the Sumbandila Holiday School. The day we had been gearing up for finally arrived and it was not a disappointment. I taught three classes for 60 minutes each. The kids seemed excited to be there and I was excited to meet them.

I prepared a lesson on how Africans got to America. The students asked many good and interesting questions like, “Why don’t African Americans come back to Africa since that is where they are from?” They also knew some things that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. One student said Black Americans don’t have a first language like they should because of slavery. They only have English. In South Africa Blacks have their first language and then English is their second language. I shared my DNA results as an example of how Africans got to America and one said, “You are Nigerian!”

My last class of the day with the youngest students was the most exciting. As they debated whether it is better to live in a village or a city, the two sides of the room came closer and closer to one another until only I was separating them with small shushes so that each side could talk. The enthusiasm was palpable. Even though I only got halfway through my lesson, it was worth it!