Summer Academy 2012

By Daylene van Buuren

Errol Radebe and I recently had the privilege of representing City Year South Africa at City Year’s annual Summer Academy in Boston, Massachusets. Summer Academy is a time for the organization’s staff and senior corps members from around the network to come together for a period of intensive and productive learning, networking and fun. Since its beginning in 1993, Summer Academy has served as a vehicle for leading organizational change and sharing and cultivating our organization’s strong culture and best practices, while aligning on our collective, mission, vision, strategy and goals.  Summer Academy’s theme is “Learn. Lead. Transform.”  

The goals of Summer Academy are:

•To align staff and senior corps on shared mission, vision, strategy, goals and culture.

•To build skills and knowledge to support individuals work, and City Year’s collective efforts to help achieve transformational outcomes for students while developing corps members as leaders.

•To connect staff and senior corps members as a united workforce of practising idealists, and begin to build bonds and networks among City Year’s communities of practise that will serve as an ongoing learning resource throughout the year. Approximately 1000 staff were in attendance and 300 workshops were held over 6 days from 16-21 July.

Staff and corps at morning Physical Training

It took Errol and I roughly two days to travel from Johannesburg to Boston, and we were tired when we arrived, but the spirit, inspiration and energy we felt from our colleagues in the US, really made the jet lag seem minor in comparison. The week was intense, filled with workshops, reflection and sharing, and the Summer Academy team did not disappoint. They infused spirit and fun into everything that we did. In between all the hard work, we had an amazing talent show, where staff and corps members from around the network displayed a multitude of abilities and gifts, and we were warmed up everyday with some great Physical Training. One of my favourite moments from the week was receiving the Ubuntu(My Humanity is Tied to Yours) Boot. This acknowledgement arose from a week long campaign to acknowledge staff and senior corps who displayed City Year Values.

The Ubuntu Boot

Errol and I were also lucky enough to get some one-on-one time with City Year CEO and Co-Founder Michael Brown. We talked about how important it is to grow City Year globally, and Michael re-affirmed that as staff we all have a big responsibility to grow and improve City Year, so that it can effect even greater change in the lives of others. Having learned so much and acquired so many new tools, we are bursting with excitement at the prospect of using them to grow City Year South Africa in 2013!

Errol and Daylene with Michael Brown

Summer Academy In Numbers:

  • 1,003 staff and Senior Corps Members from across the City Year network.
  • 7 days in this year’s Academy.
  • 300+ training sessions were attended by staff and senior corps.
  • 3 new City Year sites attending Academy for the first time!

Photos by Elliot Haney

President Clinton Visits City Year South Africa

City Year South Africa was honoured yesterday to host former President Bill Clinton at a service event in Freedom Park, Soweto.  President Clinton, together with our former President Nelson Mandela played an important role in the founding of City Year South Africa. Hosting a conference on Civil Society in Cape Town in 2001, Mandela extended an invitation to Clinton, who accepted and brought along a delegation from the US, which included representatives from City Year Inc. It was after this conference that dialogue started about a possible City Year in South Africa and the site was officially launched in 2005.

The event yesterday was held at the Ikusasa Lethu Youth Project, which serves the children and residents of the Freedom Park and Devland communities. Ikusasa Lethu (which means “Tomorrow is in our hands) serves three meals a day to almost 300 children and also provides home-based care to the elderly.

140 City Year South Africa Service Leaders and staff were on site from 11am preparing the project, which included repainting the outside walls of the centre, creating murals and new signage and helping to revamp the food garden, which is used to grow vegetables that are used in meals for the children.

Service began at 2:30pm with over 200 community members, centre staff and the City Year team working to transform Ikusasa Lethu.

President Clinton and his daughter Chelsea arrived at 3pm and were welcomed at the entrance by City Year’s power greeters. Both he hand his daughter were presented with City Year jackets, which they wore for the duration of the event.

President Clinton went on a tour of Ikusasa Lethu, lead by Joey Monane, the project’s director. He stopped on numerous occasions to talk to children and Service Leaders he met along the way.

After spending almost an hour interacting with all the volunteers and watching the amazingly speedy progress they were making with their work, President Clinton joined everyone for a group photo.

After his departure, City Year and the rest of the volunteers completed the remaining work, ultimately completely painting the outsides of 4 buildings, painting ten murals and a new sign, and creating 10 vegetable beds – all in just under 2 hours!

All in all an amazing and inspirational day!