SCCT Volunteer Series: Rhoda Van Schalkwyk

Rhoda teaches Level 3 and Level 5 English classes at the Scalabrini English School.  Her other area of speciality is Adult Sex Education, and currently, she is co-facilitating Body Mapping classes at the School as well.  Body Mapping is a basic health literacy course which includes lessons on nutrition, sexual health, and human biology.

Having worked as an adult trainer and linguist most of her life, with her background in the NGO environment, Rhoda van Schalkwyk says one of the reasons she volunteers with the Centre is so she can stay focused on her career goals.

Detailing what it’s like to facilitate lessons on a topic some may consider taboo, Rhoda explained that her approach is simple; she approaches the facilitation as an adult with a firm understanding that she is working with mature adults.

She also noted the importance of letting people know that sex education is an important part of their lives, and a subject matter which cannot be avoided. Rhoda’s perspective is that people need to start engaging in such necessary conversations.

The Scalabrini English School does a tremendous amount of work integrating foreign nationals into Cape Town and generally South Africa. Broadly speaking, the impact of the Centre is huge to all individuals who have been assisted in one way or another.

Answering a few questions about her journey with the school, she highlighted the fact that “the school has become an intricate part of myself. It is shaping how I think of myself and has become part of my world.”

What attracted you to come teach at the Scalabrini Centre English School?

When I stumbled upon the website, it jumped out at me because there seemed to be an exact match between my training in language and adult training. It also operates in the sphere where my heart lies: giving that second chance when life has denied success at the first educational opportunity.

What specifically made you choose the Scalabrini Centre English School as a place to volunteer?

The place – I love Cape Town.

It is accessible – I love using public transport to get to work.

These students speak to my soul and I respect their journey and will to live and learn.

 What do you teach at the Scalabrini Centre English School?

I help with the Level 3 and Level 5 language classes and also help with the Body Mapping.

How has the experience been for you personally as a teacher?

It is wonderful. The level of real life and world engagement is deeply moving and I am experiencing a honing of my skills as a facilitator – every meeting is interactive and demanding. It really is energizing.

What is the most rewarding part of your teaching experience?

The Scalabrini Centre is re-authoring my love for my continent and my passion for education as a key to a meaningful and integrated life, for myself and for the students in my circle of learning.

Would you recommend the Scalabrini Centre English School to likeminded people who also wish to come volunteer as teachers and why?

Yes, oh yes. It is a crucible and it is a rich opportunity to test my own mettle. Scalabrini has shown me that I have a contribution to make, it has given me an opportunity for significant engagement and it brings me the joy of seeing my own talents and passions in action.

Walk me through the journey with your students, from their 1st day in class to the last day when they graduate.

I am not through with a course yet, so I can’t do that yet, but I can tell you that I am using ideas about identity and communication to elicit real-life conversations. I hope that by the end of the course we will all be having real conversations.

 

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