I’ve had a very positive first week with UpLearn and greatly look forward to the rest of the summer. UpLearn, a program within the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, works in partnership with a non-profit University to support migrants and refugees to obtain fully accredited competency-based Associates and Bachelor’s degrees at no cost to the students. The degrees offered include Communications, Management, and Healthcare Management. As an intern, I am working on developing a number of curriculums that will be taught during “Teaching Week,” a week where students can sign up to take a class that addresses a particularly challenging aspect of their self-paced degree. My first few classes are Convey Technical Information, Improve Organizational Effectiveness, and Serve Customers Effectively. I then serve as a TA for these classes and provide feedback to the students. I am also serving as a tutor, available to help students with their degrees with the goal of facilitating understanding for the student by acting as their thinking partner. I am doing this work with UpLearn to help migrants and refugees obtain degrees that will then open many more doors for them, and through this process, I am also learning an incredible amount myself. My initial interest in migration was sparked by the class “Refugees, Rights, and Resettlement” taught by Professor Shanahan and my work with Launch Lab through the Kenan Institute. I’ve already seen many parallels between Launch Lab and UpLearn, and am eager to apply what I’ve learned this summer back to Duke.
So far, I have been surprised by the sense of community I’ve witnessed and felt a part of at UpLearn considering the work is remote. Although I’m sure everyone would much prefer for their Engage to be in-person, I’m still finding benefits working remotely and feel connected to the UpLearn community. Going forward, I’m most excited to do my first tutoring session. I haven’t had one yet because given the time difference I’m the night tutor (7-9pm South Africa time), so not as many people sign up for that slot.
The staff at UpLearn have been incredibly kind, helpful, and understanding, and therefore I don’t have many worries or concerns. The one thing I am worried about as I begin tutoring is the lack of in-person connection. In Launch Lab, I had to build up trust and a rapport with my mentee over time and see her weekly in person in order to form a genuine connection. I worry I will lack this connection with the students I tutor online. Regardless, I will try my best and eagerly anticipate the rest of my time with UpLearn!