Lavender Hill High School has their Staff Indaba at Rondevlei Reserve

Saturday morning started on a high note. The morning chill was refreshing after all the hot days we have been experiencing here in Cape Town. Juan and I joined the Lavender Hill High School staff at their Indaba. The setting was Rondevlei Reserve, home to the famous hippo Brutus and a haven of indigenous flora and fauna. It is rather odd that even many Capetonians have not visited this amazing reserve tucked in on the Cape Flats.

Lavender Hill Staff sitting in the BIG circle.
Anyway, we arrived and there we were met by an enthusiastic group of Lavender Hill High teachers and the principal, Faseeg Manie. The group had already had their morning refreshments and everybody looked relaxed and fresh. We met Rama, the Director of DDP who was going to facilitate the session and of course, Colleen, the Cape Town DDP coordinator - a regular participant at many of the school's events.

Jackie, the school Indaba coordinator, had made it very clear what our role was: we were there to wish them well and share a motivational nugget or two in no more than 3 minutes each (ouch!) and then we would be allowed to exit. Notice - exit translating into 'leave us alone'.  And we obliged and waited for the cue to be relieved of our morning visit.  Then Rama took to the floor. He explained that he was merely there to keep the conversation moving along - the new story that Lavender Hill wanted to start. 

While Rama was explaining how we ought to create space for others to tell their stories, I listened attentively. " Don't talk too much, he says, otherwise you take up the time of others to tell their stories" ( oops- lesson 1 - reminder to self). "Try to find all the I's in "we" , I hear him say. We can only have authentic conversations when all the I's have been heard; then you have community.  "How many I's do we have in the "we" in our school, in our community, we should ask.  Another big uhum...

Top From Left: Juan, Colleen and Rama
Bottom: Lavender Hill staff members

Other words of wisdom I hear are that we all have something to offer ( Yep, agreed); How do you find the right chord to bring people back into the circle, into the community ( mind races... yes.... big question....); You create the story ( yebo!) and you can only make the difference in the room or space you are in ( yes...yes..). 

A powerful reminder to self: what you have created, you can uncreate.  Then we are given the following guidelines to give structure to the process of learning to have authentic conversations - telling or starting a new story at Lavender Hill High school: Speak for yourself.  Do not give advice - just ask good questions.  Watch your airtime. 

The group starts forming their smaller circles to start their first conversation of the day while Juan and I slip out to allow the new storytellers to begin their new journey. 

All attentive as the day begins to unfold.
Wouldn't it be wonderful for all our communities - school staffs and district staffs - to take this bold step to start having these courageous conversations? I can just imagine the amazing flywheel effect if we reach the space where we can engage freely without being judged or silenced; without being fearful of having to rewrite our stories because of the richness we gain from others.

Thanks to Faseeg and Jackie for inviting us to be part of the circle today.


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