Dear Gaia Community!
What a wonderful, exciting year it has been for us two volunteers and now it is almost over! We learned a lot of things and experienced so much. Herewith we’d like to take the opportunity and reflect on our time at Gaia. But let’s start at the beginning and give some background information because not everybody might know exactly why we came to Gaia.
We have both finished our “Abitur” (A level in Germany) June 2013. A couple of months earlier we had successfully applied for a voluntary service at Gaia. This opportunity was brought to us by “Die Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e.V.”, an organization that works together very closely with all kinds of Waldorf institutions worldwide.
Our major motivation to come to South Africa was that we wanted to experience something very different after school and before our studies. Gaia appealed to us because of it’s ideal of being a school for children from any cultural, economic or ethnic background.
On 31 June last year we arrived in Cape Town. Teacher Vienie fetched us at the airport and drove us to the school, where we got our first impression of the buildings, the staff and the children. Afterwards she gave us a lift to our new home, a student flat with communal facilities in Southfield.
After our arrival everything was very new for neither of us had been to South Africa before. A totally different landscape, different climate – we came from the German summer to Cape Town winter! A different smell and of course different people with a different history and different cultural backgrounds.
Moreover, we had to live “on our own” now. On the one hand, that meant independence and freedom, on the other hand it also involved the need to find our place in a country with all it’s habits, traditions and languages.
Finding our place at Gaia was not always easy. Towards the pupils we had to act like teachers, which they didn’t always see us as. A challenge was the constant change of our liaisons, which required very different ways of working together. But it also gave us the opportunity to work on a range of very different tasks over the year, which we are very thankful for.
A lot of people ask us what our tasks at the school are. Well, it starts with assistance in the office and the administration, like solving IT problems, printing, laminating and typing work. It goes on to helping in classes and the kindergarten, playing with the pupils, helping in the aftercare and finally it includes maintenance and physical work such as sanding boards, painting walls, repairing, varnishing cabins and the like.
For us it was very interesting to gain insight into a school’s work from the point view of the staff. We saw the potential and the strength of the school. We saw motivated and dedicated teachers. We experienced the very special atmosphere at Gaia. We really enjoyed the numerous school events, that where all well organized.
We are very glad that we could spend one year at Gaia Waldorf School. We will miss the teachers, the staff and of course the children, even if they gave us a hard time sometimes ;-). We definitely want to come back and see how the school developed over the years, especially as Gaia has now got a lot of space to grow. As we are almost leaving we want to say good bye to the great Gaia Community.
Hopefully we will see you soon
Konstantin and Florian