"When I look at you, I am home", is what Dora said to her little lost orange friend. Finding Nemo is, as Jonathan Jansen told 850 Rustenburg Girls' High School learners, a film with an important message for the start of a day of discussion on exclusion and belonging. You feel you belong at a school, when you feel welcomed; when you can look each other in the eye, and each feel at home.
Last week Wednesday, Rustenburg Girls' High School in Cape Town, stopped normal classes to take part in their first Dialogue Day. The theme of this year's Dialogue Day was Exclusion and Belonging.
We have worked with Rustenburg Girls' High for over a year now supporting them through various aspects of their transformation journey. Dialogue Day is another part of this support. We designed the programme and trained 30 incredible Rustenburg teachers who put up their hands and said, "We want to be a part of driving the transformation at the school!" We call these teachers the Early Adopters.
After the whole school had gathered to listen to Jonathan Jansen, the girls moved into smaller Classroom Conversation groups guided by one of the 30 Early Adopter teachers. Here they explored what it means to belong at the school and what it means to be excluded. These conversations were informed by our work with Facing History and Ourselves and the Early Adopter teachers will continue to be supported in Facing History's methods and content as the school continues on its journey.
The school gathered again as a community to listen to a panel of former learners of Rustenburg and other schools sharing their experiences and their thoughts on what schools can focus on to strengthen transformation. Three of the panelists - Dominique, Sizwe and Nabeel - are featured in the School Where I Belong book and videos.
Returning to their classrooms the girls reflected on the panel discussion and began facilitated conversations about where exclusion manifests at the school and where each girl can make a contribution to create a school where everyone feels they belong.
Dialogue Day at Rustenburg Girls' High School, ended as it began - as a community, of staff and learners gathered in the school hall.
Each girl left the hall at the end of Dialogue Day with a personal value and commitment to ensuring that they play a part in creating a school where everyone feels seen, heard and valued. And, as Dora would want, where everyone feels at home.