Courtney Lemm spent a year as an International Program Manager with Education Without Borders (EwB) in Gugulethu, a township outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Upon his arrival from the United States, fears and doubts clouded is mind but he quickly became immersed in his new life and the whirlwind of activity and responsibilities that it entailed.
While learners at Fezeka Secondary were initially shy and reserved around Courtney, they were more than willing to open up and work with him. He attributes the students’ acceptance of him to their understanding that in some small way he might be able to help them succeed.
Courtney shared that the group’s desire to learn and need to succeed were the most important things that EwB has accomplished to date, noting that without this the programs can not function successfully. He said, “We must always keep in mind that you cannot teach someone that does not want to be taught, and so continuing to foster this desire is paramount”.
During his time working with administration, staff and learners at Fezeka Secondary, Courtney was involved in an array of programs and activities, ranging from developing a small scale sports program, tutoring learners in the after-school program for Math and English, leading holiday programs, being involved in the Sinako Mother’s Program (an empowerment program for mothers of learners), and much more.
Courtney made valuable contributions to the work of EwB, and in turn, the learning community of which he was a part of in Gugulethu. His appreciation of the EwB experience is clearly voiced in words of thanks to the learners at Fezeka:
“… you were always the reason I had a smile on my face every day. Your enthusiasm, love, abundant energy, and care for your future made me want to be a better person for you. While I hope that I had a positive effect on you, I know that you changed my life for the better”.
Courtney’s experience with the children at Fezeka Secondary was monumental in directing him to his chosen career path. He now works with Citizen Schools to help fill the ‘opportunity gap’ and enrich the lives of low income, public school students in New York.
– based on reports by Courtney Lemm and edited by Karen Moola