Cape Town Fellowship Day 4 | May 29 2018

Day 4

Day 4! Time flies when you’re learning how to unlearn at the Unschool!

Today was nothing short of incredible. After a quick and tasty breakfast, we’re back on ‘the bus for us’! Heading to somewhere unknown in true Unschool style, we find ourselves in Langa, the oldest township in Cape Town. Not knowing exactly where we are, we take our seats and are introduced to Sihle Tshabalala, the co-founder and CEO of Quirky30.

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Hearing his story of how he dedicated his adult life to overcoming the odds of poverty, prison and violence gives us such a deep sense of inspiration that you can actually feel it in the air. You could quite honestly hear a pin drop as Sihle spoke words of wisdom about the importance of turning the negative into the positive, even in the face of adversity. The fellows are stunned by Sihle’s ‘3-D’ ethos of: dream different dreams. He explained how he was able to see marketable skill-sets in the most marginalised groups, for example; gang members and criminals as some of the most innovative entrepreneurs. This is a key component of his talk: finding opportunity where there seems to be only hopelessness. His life story has such resonance with the journey of a social innovator that our fellows can’t stop asking him questions. If only written words were enough to sum up the insights that Sihle shared with the group, but the hugs and gratitude spoke volumes!

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Then we picked up the pace and sped right into a rapid prototyping session with the Quirky30 cohort to come up with quickfire solutions to local problems. We formed four big blended groups of Quirky30 and Unschool fellows alike and got talking about a range of issues that were local to Langa such as violence, agriculture, education, and unemployment (issues that affect us all around the world!). We got our heads together to start mapping out the problem arenas of each one issue. With some deep thinking, head scratching, and colourful scribbling, all four groups did a big collective brain dump which laid the foundation for building a prototype solution in 30 minutes - and with lots of conversation to spare! We heard some fantastic presentations of prototypes but it was the process that was the real learning piece here; synthesising the perspectives and experiences of people from all over the world to collaboratively create a seamless solution! It’s not always as easy as it looks and our groups did make it look pretty easy. Judging by the standard of the ideas, there was real genuine interest to make these prototyped ideas an entrepreneurial reality!

With all our brain juice squeezed out, it was certainly the moment for some yummy South African food which turned out to be a big hit! Thank you to Ciki Washington and her Langa-based catering.

Back on the bus again and it’s time to do some quick reflections on our way to the next destination because there’s never a minute to lose at the Unschool. We rocked up in the centre of Cape Town for our next learning-based adventure. Just this morning we were hearing from a digital programmer, youth worker, motivational speaker, community leader, and entrepreneur, all rolled into one amazing mentor, Sihle. Now we were waiting outside an architect’s office door  waiting to hear his take on how to unite social justice with innovation. Of course, it turns out that we were extremely privileged to have Mokena Makeka as our second mentor of the day. He talked so effortlessly about his career of building buildings with social change in mind. In fact, he blew our minds with the way he saw various socioeconomic patterns and trends shaping our world. Again, we were full of questions to ask him about his work. After a quick tour of his office space, Mokena showed us some of the most prestigious architectural projects that he had worked on and his thought process behind his creative design decisions - inspiring us to think about the ways we can unapologetically bring our authentic selves into our work! Next stop, we visited Cape Town Station where Mokena took us step by step through his creative process of architecturally designing it. We managed to squeeze in a quick sneak peek of the ‘informal market’ that can be found on the station’s rooftop with the mountains making the perfect backdrop to the hustle and bustle of all the market stalls selling all kinds of everything!

He talked so effortlessly about his career of building buildings with social change in mind. In fact, he blew our minds with the way he saw various socioeconomic patterns and trends shaping our world. Again, we were full of questions to ask him about his work. After a quick tour of his office space, Mokena showed us some of the most prestigious architectural projects that he had worked on and his thought process behind his creative design decisions - inspiring us to think about the ways we can unapologetically bring our authentic selves into our work! Next stop, we visited Cape Town Station where Mokena took us step by step through his creative process of architecturally designing it. We managed to squeeze in a quick sneak peek of the ‘informal market’ that can be found on the station’s rooftop with the mountains making the perfect backdrop to the hustle and bustle of all the market stalls selling all kinds of everything!

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Finally we decided to walk to the V&A Waterfront and we were able to do some long overdue sunset sightseeing. At the Waterfront, Mokena our mentor continued giving us a tour of the Cape Town city that he knows and that he has played an active role in designing. It was great to have such open public space to run, play, and take lots of photos - the fellows unschooled all their schooling with childlike play, curiousity, and mischief. Finally, it came to wrapping up the day with a quick reflection on all the ways that we can continue to ‘flip the script’ (in true Unschool spirit) on the challenges, obstacles, and issues currently affecting our lives. This was a great way to end the day by thinking about all the ways that we might turn a weakness into a strength and a threat into an opportunity. Reframing is a really important skill that any social innovator needs to have in order to navigate the long road ahead of change-making.Time for some free time this evening and the fellows decided to go a see more of the city with some food in their belly. A great day full of absolutely mindblowing mentorship and teamwork!

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