Project Zulu helps volunteers gain experience and broaden horizons

Issue date: 23 August 2018

Project Zulu classroom

Project Zulu, an initiative that enables students from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) to travel to South Africa and volunteer in schools to gain work experience, is underway.

The 43 students from across the University's four faculties travelled earlier this month to the Madadeni township in the city of KwaZulu Natal and outlying communities to volunteer in 10 schools. They are putting their skills to good use on a variety of practical and educational projects.

Education students have gone into classrooms and computer science students are helping create IT networks within schools and developing digital literacy skills among teachers and pupils. Meanwhile history students are running field trips to local sites with teachers, and engineering undergraduates are working with Siyalwela Primary School on projects to install rainwater harvesting and filtration systems.

Occupational therapy student Clare Spray is working at YWCA Special School, as part of Project Zulu to assist with special educational needs. “This has been the best part of my degree so far and I've really had the best time,” said Clare.

“We are collaborating with the educators of the school, sharing our knowledge from the UK, and getting ideas from each other. We will be staying in touch with the educators at the school, to see how our interventions are being carried on, and to answer any questions that come up.

“Project Zulu is a unique partnership, and I would recommend anyone with an open mind and heart to get involved.”

To capture the experience, film students are filming the whole experience and producing a series of documentary shorts to promote UWE Bristol's work through the initiative.

“Project Zulu is built on our longstanding relationship with the township and is great for everybody. Our students get fantastic personal and professional development experiences, as well as broadening their horizons and becoming truly global in their thinking and perspectives,” said Ben Knight, who is Director of Project Zulu.

As part of the initiative, a choir comprising singers from one or more of the schools in the Madadeni township gets the chance to come to the UK every two years to put on shows and work with schools.

From May to June this year, the singers flew to the UK, many of them for the first time, and danced and sang in venues across southern England. For some of their performances, they wore traditional Zulu clothing.

All money from the ticket sales is donated to the schools in South Africa to help with projects such as a new computer lab, or repair work on a building.

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