Summer Institute Reflection - Buyiswa Mini

award_nite_283I am very thankful that I got the opportunity to attend the Technology Workshop. The first thing that struck me was the friendliness of the first  attendee that I satnext to when I arrived on the first day. Unbelievable asit is, I am by nature a very shy person, though most of it is hidden, or may be kept under control, by maturity and long experiences and involvement in many things in life as well as interacting with various kinds of people. But the shyness manifests itself in my fearingto be a bother to people, especially when it comes to fields and things in which I am not well versed.This was the feeling I had when I first came to the workshop: I needed to be able to learn successfully on my own and not be a burden to others. However, that was not easy for someone of my age range who is just beginning to acquire literacy in many aspects of the field of computers.


It was as if the young man I sat next to was readingmy inner fears. He was spontaneous in giving me help, most of the time halting his own progress in a lesson to assist me. He had empathy for my unfamiliarity with my recently acquired new laptop. He literally kept  an eye on my progress and kept offering appreciative and encouraging remarks. He was so warm and friendly; heis unforgettable. This remarkable young man’s name is Said, from Morocco. I also got a lot of help, with apositive attitude, from Teles (a Kiswahili teacher). Hes hared his notes with me, which helped me catch up a little, as the pace of the lessons was too fast for me.Others  also, like Sadam and the young Nigerian manat UW were easy to approach when I had questions and the instructor was still busy with another student. In fact, there was oneness among all nine of us. John, from the NALRC staff, was also very helpful with the computer learning.The instructor was very good and knowledgeable in his field. But for me, at the beginning he was movingtoo fast with those who, because of their high level of computer literacy in general, were quick to grasp the various aspects and details of each lesson. I remembered the case of a friend of mine who bought herself a computer but spent years, literally, without acquiring knowledge of how to use the machine. She had attempted to learn, but had the depressing experience of being taught by computer experts with their typical speed and, shall I say, insensitivity toward those not yet familiar with computers, forgetting that there is a starting point for everyone in gettingto master computer, or any other, skills. She had consequently vowed never to go back to thosecomputer learning centers manned by the young computer experts.

 

On the second day I was beginning to get my friend’s experience. But I thought to myself that I came here to learn how to apply computers in my practice of African second/foreign language teaching. And that’s what I am going to do. I thank the Lord because He gave me the determination such that if I start something, I must see it through. So, on the second day, I plucked up courage and talked to the instructor. I requested that he keep in mind not to lose me when he taught, not to teach everything only orally but to provide written handouts of his lesson objectives, as well as of all the details of each aspect of each lesson. In this way Iwould be able to know where I was, where I should be, and to endeavor to catch up on my own if I gotlost in each lesson. Also, for a novice in computers it isnot easy to keep every detail by heart. He listened very sympathetically and even thanked me for telling him that. He was able to accede to my needs as one of his students for the week. He therefore proved himself to be a very good teacher, who will do all in his power and ability to accommodate all types of students with unreserved patience. That is appreciated.

 

So, where I had started the workshop  as  a technologically challenged person, I finished it successfully as a very non-technologically challenged person. I am certainly looking forward to moreTechnology Workshops. If we learned such a lot with such enjoyment in only four days, I am certain that much more can be achieved in the technology endeavor and function of the NALRC over a longer period, say two weeks.

 

Bringing together the Technology Workshop and Summer Institute attendees was  another highlight of the NALRC arrangement of the two events of summer 2011. It was reviving to those of us who have past experience with the institute, and purpose-inspiringto the teachers in the institute program, in favor of attending future Technology Workshops. I thank Professor Schleicher, the Director of NALRC, for accepting my application for the Technology Workshop. I am also grateful to the Center for African Studies, University of Florida, for financially enablingme to attend the workshop and gain so much knowledge.