Saturday, October 11, 2008

South Africa, Global Financial Crisis and Assistive Technology

I have had the fortune to make friends with an educator in South Africa through email. I was asked if I could answer some questions about voices for Clicker 5. We found out that you can use your own favorite voice with Clicker 5 - you don't have to just use theirs.
In our conversation, I mentioned that I had taught in Capetown with a music school there for 6 weeks. I was asked about it and also about whether my son had a disability or not. After I wrote my reply and read it, I realized how much I miss Africa and the wonderful people I met there. They taught me a new meaning to the phrase "Joy in adversity". I thought I would share my response with you...

"My school was a private school based in Dallas Texas in the USA. We did satellite schools around the world where the school was a 6 week boarding school environment. We did night classes in the city and weekly concerts where we brought in guest artists. During the day we had classes for the boarders and they got to learn from the guest artist all week as well. They were put in bands and we had a faculty that were professional musicians from U.S., New Zealand, Sydney and Capetown. I was the faculty band leader and keyboard and songwriting instructor. I got the artists CD's and charts and rehearsed the band as a cover band for the artist for the Friday night concerts. I did a new artist each week for 6 weeks.
I joke because our venue was a block from the beach. I walked on the beach the second day there and then was so busy I didn't see it until the end of the school. I walked on it one more time before I flew out!
Some locals took me up into the wine country for a day and we went hiking out on a point where the oceans came together, saw some wildlife, went to the top of Table rock, went to a large mall/shopping area by the harbor, but the BEST was living with local students in the dorms, jamming and being taught that South African "groove".

I have wonderful memories...My son, I am happy to say is completely (overly full of energy sometimes!) healthy. I am the one with the disability. I had a spontaneouos dissection of my right vertebral artery which caused a lesion on my brain about 2 years ago. I spent 5 days in the hospital. I am fine other than symptoms of a traumatic brain injury - there are many - and mine are on the less serious side but still a pain in the neck and something I have to compensate for.
South Africa had a big impact on me. I felt accepted and loved by the time I left. The students gave me FAR MORE than I ever gave them. I bet you know that feeling."
(As I got to know these students, many of them shared their stories of how their families had their homes and belongings taken by the government and were put in the townships. I listened to their music and harmonies - the joy in its' sound and tears would fill my eyes. I had so much to be thankful for. As I think about what is happening in our government and financial global situation, I see those faces and know if they made it then, I can make it now too!)

All the best to you,


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