In summer 2017, I received a call from a father at the Sorsum Waldorf School, Germany. His enthusiasm and many ideas about how a class sponsorship could develop between his child's class and a Waldorf School in South Africa was and still is overwhelming. I was literally infected by his enthusiasm and together we worked out ideas on how a lively exchange could work out. After minor initial difficulties the contact developed wonderfully. I am following the contact between the two classes with great interest, as well as how the teacher at the Sorsum Waldorf School is integrating the class sponsorship into her lessons. I also admire the way the parents identify with the project. Together with the children, they come up with ever-new campaigns to financially support the Stellenbosch Waldorf School. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the students, the parents, and the teacher of the Sorsum Waldorf School. I am looking forward to more school classes, companies, and people embracing the idea of a class sponsorship. Gabi Fiedler, member of the sponsorship committee, tells us about “waiting for snail mail” and other special aspects of this class sponsorship.
A message from the parents’ class sponsorship committee
It was one day before St. Nicholas Day, when class teacher Katja Neubert entered the fourth class with a huge envelope. Many colorful paper stars, delicate pearl figures and 25 letters tumbled out in front of the 33 curious and excited fourth-grade students. From: South Africa. This letter is the long-awaited first contact with the third class of the Stellenbosch Waldorf School, located in the vicinity of Cape Town, and the beginning of a hopefully long-lasting class sponsorship.
The initiative for this sponsorship comes from a father, who wants to support this project up to the twelfth class, both financially and in non-material ways. Through this intercultural exchange he would like to give the students a glimpse beyond their own horizons and promote other important social skills such as cosmopolitanism and tolerance. A partial amount of the available sum is transferred annually to South Africa via the Friends of Waldorf Education and is used to support the Waldorf School in Stellenbosch and the sponsored class, for example by integrating socially disadvantaged children. The other part is currently available for fourth-grade children in Sorsum. This can be used, for example, to finance various projects together with the sponsored class. With increasing age, students will develop their own responsibility for the use of the financial resources. Initially, the teachers and a team of parents will closely monitor the project.
The Friends of Waldorf Education in Berlin support and promote this initiative. Especially while searching for a partner school and during the first contact this help was very valuable. For the children as well as for us adults, teachers and parents, this project is already very educational: We learn to endure long waiting times for the “snail mail”, which at the same time gives us an impression of the great distance between the two countries, we learn to deal with setbacks and disappointments when parcels do not arrive because they do not pass the airport controls, but we also learn the amazement and great joy of both classes when they receive creative letters and exotic gifts.
By now, the exchange has progressed: The Sorsum class received a thick envelope with personal letters from Stellenbosch. Each student had chosen one or two German children to initiate pen friendships. They also gave us a thick cookbook in which all the children described their favorite African recipe. We are looking forward to trying these out and discovering new flavors!
The students from Sorsum were also creative and folded cranes, made soaps in a coat and – thanks to Ms. Drefs, the new class teacher of the current fifth class ¬– wrote English profiles. The sponsorship became real when a Sorsum family returned from their visit to the Stellenbosch Waldorf School with many photos and impressive stories. South African souvenirs such as the flag, delicacies such as Chai Rooibos tea and biltong (South African dried meat), Guava and Cape Fig Jam as well as typical South African music enriched our first South African stand on open house day.
We are looking forward to further exchange with the sponsored class and its cultural and ethnic diversity of the rainbow nation. We will keep the school community posted – to be continued...
Gabi Fiedler on behalf of
the parents’ class sponsorship committee