Ubuntu

Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngamantu. I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours. – Zulu Proverb

The spritual foundation of South African society, Ubuntu involves a belief in a universal bond of sharing and respect that connects all of humanity. Ubuntu is a concept formally recognised by the 1996 South African Governmental White Paper on Welfare as, “The principal of caring for each other’s well-being…and a spirit of mutual support…Each individual’s humanity is ideally expressed through his or her relationship with others and theirs in turn through recognition of the individuals humanity. Ubuntu means that people are people through other people. It also acknowledges both the rights and responsibilities of every citizen in promoting individual and societal well-being.

Ubuntu Hands (Photo: Elliot Haney 2009)

Ubuntu Hands (Photo: Elliot Haney 2009)

Ubuntu also conveys the idea the a person cannot be complete if others do not enjoy full humanity. The spirit of Ubuntu resonates so strongly that if one group within society is denied its humanity, then no individual in that society can fully realize his or her own humanity. The urgency to change this injustice becomes paramount.

We can put the spirit of Ubuntu – respect, human dignity, compassion, and community – to work in our daily lives through our interactions with others, from greeting others as we pass them in hallways or on the street to ensuring that all segments of society are included in social welfare policies so that each person has the means to lead a life of dignity. Ubuntu has the power to help us build an inclusive, respectful, and vibrant community nation and world.

Text taken from City Year’s book of Founding Stories.

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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