Today, four of our volunteers accompanied Marlette and Christoff Longland and Sanchia Chivell to Masakhane Primary School with the goal of teaching students about whales. We stopped into two different third grade classes during their English lesson, hoping to provide some practice for the mainly Xhosa-speaking students. Though there were over 40 students in each classroom, the students were incredibly polite, standing up and addressing us in unison (in English!) as we arrived.
After some introductions were made, Marlette began to tell the story of Wally and Will, two Southern Right Whales making their way along the coast of South Africa. Throughout their journey, Wally and Will saw many interesting land animals and excitedly adopted their characteristics, only to discover that they could no longer be happy whales and breach or spout. The story concludes with Wally and Will shedding their adopted features and realizing they were perfect just the way they were. The students listened with rapt attention and happily participated in the storytelling, tacking on the features of the land animals as the whales adopted them.
We then handed out crayons and outlines of Southern Right Whales, which the students coloured with gusto. Each designed their whale differently; some grabbed the brightest colours they could find, while some patiently waited for the blue and black crayons so they could colour their whales “accurately.”
Amidst a flurry of colouring, we made our exit, leaving behind the crayons, colouring materials, a birthday calendar, and a new appreciation of whales. We promised a return visit and to bring more information about marine life and conservation.
We would like to thank Masakhane Primary School for hosting us, and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust and Volkswagen South Africa for their sponsorship. Without them none of today’s activities would be possible…- Anna, Alex, Connie, and Haley (Marine Volunteer)