After months of preparation, communication and excitement, Together for Development 2019 begins! Waterford’s quiet ,misty hills are filled with young participants eager to explore and learn from each other. They come from near and far (over 25 countries to be exact) to The Kingdom of Eswatini, pulled by their curiosity and alignment with UWC values. We, as coordinators and facilitators, look forward to seeing their progression over the two weeks both in their understanding of development and their personal development.
Day 1 – Participant Arrival!
The day we had been waiting for was finally here! We prepared the workshops, made the name tags, checked and double checked arrival times. Some participants took 1 hour to join us at Waterford, while others took a total of 49 hours! No matter how tired or how sleepy, all of the participants were curious and excited to participate in a couple of ice-breakers before going to bed. One last batch arrived late at night, but safe and everything was ready for them to rest immediately for the intense days ahead 😉
Day 2 – Welcome to Together for Development
As with all days at TFD, we have a packed schedule and an array of activities to engage participants and make the most of each day. The morning begins shortly after sunrise where participants head up the campus for breakfast. We know rising early is never easy for some of us, which is why we typically proceed with community building and energizers, or active activities to help the participants wake up and feel comfortable with each other. For example: today we played a game to learn each other’s names. With so much diversity comes the challenge of different sounds, but the students were up for it!
After everyone is energetic and ready for the day, we normally begin the core sessions. Throughout the course this will include dense an important topics like Economic Development, Human Rights, Education, amongst others. This is where we will challenge and encourage the participants to share their experiences and knowledge. Given that today is the first day, we first wanted to remind the participants of what brought us here in the first place: UWC and the movement it has created. We shared the meaning, values and history of UWC, Waterford Kamhlaba’s campus and shared personal stories from UWC and Short Course alumni. It is important for the participants to know that they now form part of the movement and they should feel connected to a community that wants to create positive change for the world.
Once the core sessions are over, we always allow leisure sessions for the students to socialize, or spend some time reflecting and practicing self-care. We understand that the topics we introduce can be heavy and the participants need time to relax. This break is continued by lunch and helps us split the day because immediately following is the second core session of the day.
Today the topic was the community and standards we want to follow in these two weeks. We want to learn a lot, we want to have fun and have a memorable experience, but it is important to define the type of community we want to create. Every person that is a part of this special TFD space, facilitators, coordinators and participants alike helped form our “non-negotiable” and our “guideline.” From limiting phone usage to be more present, to avoiding being wasteful, we defined actions and limits that are important for us to be well and to feel a part of this community.
The day continues with fun activities that are either participant or facilitator-led. This could be a hike, a football match, volleyball match, dance choreography, etc. While there’s no structure and no specific objective, the learning never really stops.
To conclude, we always have a lighter or special evening session that goes according to the date. No better welcome than a session introducing the participants to Swazi culture, facts and traditions. Our local coordinators shared demographic, geographic and cultural information on our host country, but of course, we could not conclude the night without some Swazi dances 🇸🇿
Although it’s just the beginning, the participant’s energy, smiles, and openness to get involved indicate a great short course ahead.
Tomorrow’s theme: What is Development?