The day after
The day after Dialogue Day, the principal of Rustenburg Girls' High School, Michael Gates, found an email waiting in his Inbox. Sent by one of the learners in his school, her letter shows the value of having these conversations, that opening up the possibility to talk matters to learners.
Of course these conversations need to be carefully planned, teachers need to be trained and supported and a process needs to be followed. But her feedback shows that the difficult topics we often avoid out of fear, can be (and should be) brought into the learning environment we create for the young people in our schools.
And then there is the fact that she took the time to email her principal. It says so much about her maturity and something, perhaps, of the eduction she is getting. But it also shows that a trusting and gentle path of communication has been opened between the leadership of that school and the learners. This allows the conversation to continue beyond Dialogue Day.
Be inspired. Let your Inbox be filled with emails like the one below.
Dear Mr Gates
I came into today’s “Dialogue Day” feeling apprehensive and critical. On leaving school this afternoon, I found myself filled with excitement and gratitude for what this workshop has meant to me.
Today’s discussions have opened my eyes to the experiences of girls around me and the striking resemblance to my own. On hearing the panelists’ experiences, I resonated strongly and I was able to draw parallels to my own experiences and thoughts, and felt the acknowledgement of the feelings that I thought only I had been experiencing while at Rustenburg. Listening to the panelists and girls in the group was especially moving. The stories shared had been what I needed to hear when I was in grade 8 and 9. Even so, I am very grateful that I got to hear them now.
I would like to commend the workshop team on tactfully presenting and structuring a topic that is too-often labelled as “controversial” and “taboo”. A topic that is undeniably present in our current-day South Africa. I feel that this has helped in the building of compassion and understanding between us as young women.
I am filled with gratitude for those who drove to make this workshop possible at Rustenburg. Also, special mention to my group facilitators [the Early Adopter Teachers who were trained], who encouraged and helped to build a safe space for the discussion and sharing of thoughts, emotions and experiences. This, I felt, enriched the goal of the workshop and made it all the more successful.
After today, I have found increased contentment and comfort in my identity - qualities that I realized I had been lacking while in the school environment. In tying with the themes dealt with today, I can say that I now do feel a strong sense of belonging and I feel empowered by this.
More than ever, I feel proud to be a Rustybug and even prouder in that Rustenburg is pioneering the creation of a space for these very necessary and meaningful conversations.