The French word “apprendre” has a dual meaning: to teach and to learn. I find this beautiful and I wish there were a word like this in English (is there?) to describe the experiential learning I saw unfold before my eyes as I spent my first weekend at the ELI Africa Educational Centre. Coming from the world of education, I was astounded by the intensity of engagement of both teachers and students. “Why do you think so?” “What do you think will happen if . . . ?” “Do you guys remember when . . .?” Questions like these echoed off the walls of the home-like space ELI-Africa fellows have created with and for their students. Motivated and inspiring the centre also has a clear sense of humor. (E.g. Lexy, students and I burst into laughter when one student told another that by setting his watch ahead, he would die sooner.) A learning exchange is clearly happening in the sense that together, teachers and students are engaging in critical thinking, creative projects, teamwork, and, most importantly, dialogue.
Apprendre, this is just what I plan to do in joining the ELI Africa team. I will be learning from this community- directly from students and teaching fellows- so that in the teaching sense, I can adapt instruction that will provide access for all different kinds of learners. It is pretty exciting to enter into a community that is already so animated to learn in hands-on, inspiring, and passionate ways!