Work in Progress - The Little School with Great Spirit

Georgina and her Grade 1 class at St James Durban end-of-term concert

Georgina Melville reflects on her year volunteering as a teacher in Durban, at the newest member of the St James family of schools.

I sat in our refectory on a Friday, observing the children as they served each other at lunchtime. Their poise and dignity were marked. Something in each child had changed over the course of the past year. They have grown inwardly in stature and they shine!

When I first arrived a year ago, the sights, sounds, smells and impressions of Africa were overwhelming. It was all so different and so new. The sense, at first, was one of having hit the ground running. Little by little, the bond between the children and their teachers has grown and this sense of fellowship and of deep love has become the basis for all that has taken place.

It has been a rich year academically. Each grade has moved apace. Grade 1 have an enthusiasm for learning which is glorious! Most can now read fluently, all are able, at varying levels, to write their own independent little stories based on fables, and their love of mathematics is hard to keep up with! They have a keen sense of enquiry, particularly in the natural sciences, but have extended this recently in considering the life of ex-President Nelson Mandela. They have entered speech competitions and recently staged an adapted version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The children have even taken to greeting each other in Shakespearian speech, with gusto and enthusiasm! They are fierce in competitive sports and are known locally as ‘the little school with great spirit’. 

St James Durban grows from strength to strength. It is well led by Anisha Ramlaul, who has her eye firmly fixed on the Truth, but is also served by incredibly hard-working staff and an increasingly committed body of parents. The children came with their particular strengths and weaknesses, like children anywhere. Some have had to face considerable difficulty. But each begins to draw on a deeper sense of themselves with confidence, with power and with grace. 

Georgina is supported at St James by a teaching bursary from the ERT. We are delighted (and so is St James) that she has agreed to return for a second year.