Another year of Reading for Enjoyment (RFE) comes to an end at both Khayelitsha and Fish Hoek campuses of False Bay College (FBC). It feels like we have learnt and grown a lot over the three years of this campaign to date and have loved being in partnership with FBC and its students.
Our creativity and imagination were ignited in our sessions together. We read stories about girl-meets-boy and stories about sangomas and body parts. Collectively we brainstormed characters to write stories about and we wrote serious blogposts about changing our attitudes at college. We played hangman and noughts and crosses (aka ‘Ex Oh’). Sjoe! Things got a bit heated at times – students can be competitive. And we even managed to survive a shipwreck together. Well, not the one who was cannibalised…. We even went on REAL outings together (Franschhoek Literary Festival and Open Book Festival).
It was a year of fun and games balanced with serious discussions around politics, religion, love and relationships. The sessions were mandatory and took place during the English lesson but the campaign itself was non-compulsory. The requirements for those interested in taking part was the submission of five book reviews at the end of the campaign.
We held the awards ceremony at the Fish Hoek campus on Thursday 12 October 2017. FBC arranged the ceremony and provided the snacks and FunDza sponsored prizes of a Lenovo Tab2 tablet (for the winner) and a set of books (for the runner up). There was much excitement when the winners were announced!
Our winner was Pamela Joko and our runner-up was Cynthia Mpawenimana. Certificates of excellence were awarded to Kashiefa Sardien and Sinovuyo Madiba.
We chose the winner, Pamela Joko because she managed to give us a sense of what the books were about without giving too much of the plot away. She was also critical and reflective in her feedback. In her review of Nora Roberts ‘The Obsession’ she remarks: “My thoughts about the book after reading is that everyone leads their own lives. Everyone has a responsibility to themselves. We can move beyond our family’s mistakes and live our own lives, irrespective of where we come from.”
After the awards were handed out, we invited the students to join us for tea and snacks and to choose a book from a selection donated to the campaign by Loot and Wordsworth. Marianne sidles up to me. She’s in charge of the OLC (Open Learning Centre). “Have you noticed how none of the students have touched the snacks yet? They’re all over the books”.
I hadn’t. I looked at their faces. Alive. Animated. They were told to select one book each! We were teasing them, because in fact the donation was generous enough to allow them the luxury of three books each. Marianne and I exchange a look. She has been present in every session with these students and I see recognition and understanding on her face. She knows the challenges and the highlights.
Looking back at my diary, I found this entry at the beginning of the campaign:
“13:40. Last period. Friday. Half the students have snuck away home already. Those here seem to not see, vacant as the parking lot below, draping themselves over chairs in the OLC. Backpacks remain on their backs, clinging on to the hope of freedom. Feet pointed in the direction of the door. Slumped. Minds and bodies hostage to the bell that will mark the end of the week. As it rings, they spring into life. Before the silence falls again, they’re gone”.
This observation helped me to appreciate our FunDza content and to come up with activities that are as engaging and fun as the stories. The approach this year was also to make the sessions more interactive and collaborative. The thinking is to build a strong foundation of reading in a way that would allow the students to take ownership of their journeys as readers.
I feel confident that many of the students will take this challenge seriously and personally. And I have a feeling that they will encourage each other. As one of the students, Joel Peters wrote during one of the sessions this year: “Growing up with books at an early age, reading was always fun for me but as I grew up I discovered that reading was not norm among my age group. My friends always said that it was either boring or hard to get into. Well as a person who reads a lot, here are my ways to get into reading:
- Decide what you want to read about
- Commit yourself
- Picture in your head what you’re reading
- Try to relate to the content
- Don’t rush it
- Expand your horizons
Thank you False Bay College!