One of the main outreach projects that CCMS is involved with is ARROW (Art: A Resource for Reconciliation Over the World). ARROW was established in Plymouth, UK with the aim of using various forms of creative art to address issues of conflict, reconciliation and intra- and inter-development with young people. South Africa was one of the first countries to have an ARROW hub, which is based at Bechet High School in Durban. At Bechet, ARROW functions as an extra-mural activity for the school pupils, but at the same time it operates as a research site for CCMS students. This partnership between ARROW, CCMS and Bechet has developed over the past seven years.
One of the main activities that CCMS and ARROW were jointly involved in 2010 was the first international ARROW congress, held in Plymouth, UK, in June/July. The South African group that attended the congress consisted of Mary Lange, ARROW SA coordinator and CCMS research advisor, four Bechet High School pupils, and Sertanya Reddy, a past student of and current research assistant at CCMS. Partial funding for the trip was made possible by collaborative efforts between ARROW and CCMS, as well as other groups and institutions, which raised funds through a raffle and art exhibition.
Since ARROW SA was established in 2004, students from CCMS have been involved in helping to coordinate the weekly sessions, and in conducting research on various ARROW projects. In 2010, seven CCMS Honours students conducted primary research at ARROW for their module Development, Communication and Culture, while in the second semester eight CCMS students worked with the Bechet pupils for their projects for Communication for Participatory Development. The research covered various issues, ranging from evaluating theatre approaches and drama productions at ARROW, to investigating the effectiveness of the ARROW website. The common thread is that the students’ work adopts an action research approach, where research is mutually beneficial to all parties involved. While the CCMS students have the invaluable opportunity to work with a real community organisation and are presented with a site for their fieldwork, ARROW benefits as the students’ research monitors and evaluates their work, and recommends possible ways of ARROW improving its operations. In this way, CCMS supports ARROW as an outreach project while simultaneously integrating it with its research and teaching components.
In the second semester of 2010, three of the CCMS student projects focused on an initiative called Ripples of Empowerment, which used the technique of Forum Theatre to educate the Bechet students at ARROW about health issues. Ripples of Empowerment epitomizes the type of collaborative community engagement that CCMS favours. The Forum Theatre was conducted and led by two facilitators from DramAidE (Drama in AIDS Education), who are both also past CCMS students. Current CCMS students were involved by conducting research on the Forum Theatre project, thereby adding an academic and theoretical dimension to the project, to broaden and deepen its scope. The beneficiaries, in this case, were the ARROW Bechet students who were not only educated about health issues, but also were empowered by learning Forum Theatre skills. The plan is for the Bechet students to use their new theatre skills to benefit fellow pupils, as well as a community organisation known as the Izulu Orphans Project (IOP).
- CCMS would continue to establish this partnership and extensive community engagement networks with ARROW in 2011: The following ideas will be explored:
- The Bechet students to create and perform their own piece of Forum Theatre to spread awareness of health issues to young people at their school and at IOP.
- More research links to be established with ARROW’s other community engagement projects and the Development, Communication and Culture postgraduate course. Some of the research links into student research projects on the:
a) Izulu Orphans project
b) Palmiet Gwalagwala cliff educational development
c) Bergtheil Museum Programmes
d) Bechet Project
e) ARROW Global youth congress
f) Biesje Poort rock art
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