2014 Reflection: Carl Wheeler

A year of superlatives: the largest group ever, the most teachers, the largest support group, the largest representative group of Peers (both in the lower case and capital P sense), the most workshops, the most times the electricity went out (3), and certainly the most kilometers covered (the most individually, certainly, by the magnificent Thokozani).

It was also a time of firsts: the first workshops in Swaziland, the first theft (with the first passport replacement), the first stroking of African cats, the first split workshop (Jozini and Mtubatuba), and even the first visit to us from a U.S. deputy ambassador.

In talking with teachers in both South Africa and Swaziland, I gathered that their greatest concern, accentuated by pressures from different administrative levels, was “getting through the curriculum.”  Their huge class sizes and lack of teaching materials, of course, contribute to their essentially impossible task.  So where does TABSA come in?  Every year, we provide some insight, knowledge, techniques, and materials (especially in science) which I truly believe help the teachers with their extensive challenges (if I didn’t fully believe this, I wouldn’t keep going back!).  However, I feel our greatest contribution comes in—for lack of a better term—spirit building.  The teachers’ gratitude is palpable.  I believe they leave us with a renewed purpose to do their incredibly important jobs in support of their learners and, indeed, their respective countries.