We arrived on campus for a dance workshop led by a professional choreographer and assisted by a few of my college students. The workshop was held in the large movement room in one of the theatres.
You'll see that in the video, the girl has lost all self-awareness. The arts have a tendency to do that.....
Following the workshop, we had a buffet lunch, which produced the most enthusiastic eaters I've ever had the pleasure of dining with. We then drove the learners through our beautiful campus, and tried to stimulate their desire to consider higher education. Next stop---our rather large proscenium theatre where our guests were given a tour by the Assistant Theatre Manager, and through him learned a variety of stage terminology.
We had discovered during one of the workshops that not one of the students had ever entered a movie theatre. In fact, I recently had a conversation with a black lecturer at UFS who told me that his first movie-going experience was in his 20s. This is not due to a lack of theatres, which are relatively abundant, or inflated ticket prices. When you can not afford pap (porridge) for your children, the idea of a movie ticket becomes unattainable. Unreachable. Foolish to desire.
With this in mind, my UFS students suggested taking the group to a movie theatre. I asked for sponsors to pay for the tickets, but no one felt the learners were a worthy endeavor. One of my colleagues suggested closing down the large proscenium theatre and showing a movie privately. The white cyclorama behind the children turned into a giant movie screen with stereo sound and crisp video images. We deliberated over appropriate titles. Consideration regarding the ability to understand content became paramount. And we settled on.....Nemo! One of the girls turned to me, gestured for me to bend down to her level, and said, "I'm so happy. Thank you." And that's all we needed.
The day ended with official certificates of completion for all, and a group photo for each young actor to carry home. There were many tears, and not just on the part of the children.
We then returned the children to their homes in the township.
In the end, I think we gained more from the experience than the learners. I know I did. And my students and colleagues, all South Africans, seemed to have found a new perspective as to how devastating the poverty actually is. I believe, in the end, they learned that you start with just one person, and a desire to do better in the world.