from classroom to community

experiencing the field

Mandela and community football club.

Nelson Mandela has spent the last two years enrolled in Wesley College’s Community Development program. He has one more year to go. Originally, Mandela was motivated to enroll because of his own challenging upbringing.  His goal is to make a difference in the lives of others – so their lives don’t need to be as hard as his was.  

 

Like all other Wesley College students, he is assigned a 6-week field experience every year. In October 2020, he served the Cedar Foundation, based in Mwanza but working in many locations. Mandela’s assignment involved delivering community education on health topics and economic development.

 

Here’s what Mandela says was the best thing about this experience:

 

“I learned how to solve conflict in the community in a peaceful way and how to become a responsible and creative person in solving community challenges… I enjoyed getting to be a community agent and bring positive changes.”

 

Some of his tasks included teaching youth about gender violence through football clubs. He also taught about HIV/AIDS and planned parenting. “In many communities,” he told us, “they don’t value women or give them equal rights or a say in the community. It’s our role and duty to change that mindset.”

 

But Mandela’s six-week experience was not without its challenges.  He needed to cross Lake Victoria every day to reach the communities, and that meant returning home very late. Plus, many of the people did not speak Swahili, which created a language barrier. He also learned how hard it can be to build trust.

 

Overall, Mandela believes that the sum total of his experience was positive. He said, “We have good teachers who guided us in community work.”

 

Read more about Mandela here, including his growing-up story.

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