SchoolNet’s Adobe Youth Voices programme sends a team to California

It is really worth participating in SchoolNet’s Adobe Youth Voices programme as Hlengiwe Mfeka discovered. Hlengiwe took part in the programme, and she and 2 of her learners from Mconjwana High School in rural KZN were selected to go to Santa Clara, California on the 2 August 2011 to attend the Adobe Youth Voices Summit where their very thought-provoking and moving movie on Street Children was screened.  Let me tell you a bit about Hlengwie. She is currently working for SchoolNet SA as an ICT Support Specialist who is responsible for mentoring educators taking part in the KZN Midlands SITA project.  She is also responsible for a range of ICT training initiatives of teachers in the province. In 2009 she won a Microsoft Innovative Teacher’s Award in South Africa for her project entitled My community, My Place, My Pride, and she  went on to represent South Africa at the Pan African Finals with her project.  Later in the same year Hlengiwe and two other SA educators along with one learner each were invited to participate in a live conferencing event with Nigerian educators which was attended by the Education Ministers of both South Africa and Nigeria in Microsoft’s Offices in Johannesburg.  In 2010, she was featured in Destiny Magazine February issue as one of the South African women on the move in the Education field.  Here is Hlengiwe’s guest post about her visit to California


2011 AYV Summit

Sadness was written on the face of the parents and friends when we left them at the international boarding gate of King Ushaka airport late on the 1st of August 2011 Monday; of course they were happy for us but anxious.  On the other hand both Nontobeko and Mpumelelo were over the moon. 

The duration of our flights from Durban to Dubai was almost 9hrs.   We waited for +2hrs to connect the next flight to San Francisco.  We then left Dubai at 9h00am on Tuesday and arrived at San Francisco the following day at 13h30pm; amazingly it was Tuesday there.  We discovered that California is behind South African time by 9hrs.

Departing from King Ushaka Airport

Tuesday, August 2

We met the other team from Nigeria at the airport who were also Summit attendees; we then stick to each other.  We arrived at Santa Clara University something to 5pm; it is about 45 min away from the airport.  Kate Goddard who is a Summit Event Manager warm welcomed and assisted us with the registration.  We thereafter check in to our rooms; teachers were allocated on the same block while students were allocated on a different block which was away from ours.   It was dinner time already at 5h30pm to 6h30pm.  We were instructed to assembly at Benson Center after dinner for Orientation and Welcome.  When we arrived we thought we will have time to rest after a long travelling to our surprise there was no such.

We were welcomed by EDC and Adobe staff members where they shared the slogan of the week which was ‘extraordinary’; saying each day of the week will be an extra ordinary.  Youth were introduced to their Media Mentors and counsellors.  Media Mentors were to facilitate a collaborative project with Youth production crews while counsellors were to take care of each production group (act like boarding masters or matrons).

Youth production groups consisted the following:

·         Human Rights (which South Africa team belonged to)

·         Community

·         Environment

·         Education

·         Identity

·         Culture

·         Relationships

·         Change

Youth groups had to create a media project that represents the group’s diverse global perspective and inspires audience with a positive vision within two days.   On the other hand Lead Educators (that is how educators were called) had their programme which included sharing of innovative curriculum ideas and ways to facilitate and encourage high quality Youth produced media.  Our main task was to create a short instructional video on a given topic.  We were also divided into eight teams of four members each. 

The teams were given their topics:

After the orientation we had an evening activity which aimed at attendees get to know each other.  Each participant was given a paper with prompts where they had to find people who are able to do what is written on the prompt.  This activity was led by Deidre Searcy, EDC Senior Associate who was also a Lead Educator Instructor or Facilitator for the week.  After the activity Youth and Educator met with their collaboration groups to create a motion or animated slogan of their group.  All groups thereafter shared their slogans. 

Wednesday, August 3

Everyday breakfast starts at 7h30 to 8h30am, Lunch at 12h00 to 1h00pm and Dinner at 5h30 to 6h30.  Those were the only times I will get to see Nontobeko and Mpumelelo.

In the morning we all attended an opening session at the Recital Hall.  We were addressed by Ms Laura Ling; an American journalist who is a correspondent for Current TV which is a political and youth-orientated channel.   She is also a Vice President of Current TV Vanguard Journalisim Unit, which produces the Vanguard TV series.   Laura shared her experiences where she was held a prisoner for twelve years hard labor for doing her work as a journalist.  She talked about what sustained her throughout that painful period and how she was able to maintain hope.   She offered advice on how to create projects that are personally meaningful to youth.  I was deeply inspired and moved by her talk which motivated everyone to go back to their countries and speak out using media creation as an instrument. 

Laura Ling a political journalist

There was a breakaway workshop for Youth Media Collaboration (Youth) and Lead Educator Training (Educators).  Groups brainstorming, planning pre-production and taking photo shoots for their videos. 

In our Lead Educator Training; educators introduced themselves and I was happy to meet two of my mentors from my AYV online course – Ivo and Svetlana.  I also met in person with Lisa from IEARN who was also happy to meet me, she is very humble.  Communication was a bit of a problem as some of the educators had difficulties with speaking English.  There were interpreters organized for other teachers and learners to sit next to them e.g. Columbia, Japan etc.

 In my group I had teachers from San Francisco – Jorge Goncalves, New York – Sarah Moore and Argentina – Federico Waisbaum.  I felt that our skills complimented as we were working together.  There was a lot to do in a short space of time as we were only given two days to complete our video.  

Nontobeko and Mpumelelo seemed to cope well in their groups from the conversations that we had during breaks.  They appreciated their group members whom they say were very welcoming and warm but crazy (very noisy, talk their minds, hyper active etc) out of all the participants.  Knowing Mpumelelo as a shy person; I was surprised to observe him slowly adapting to their craziness.  When their group learned that his second name is Gladman they said he is indeed a glad man. 

Thursday, August 4

The morning started with an opening session where participants were given an opportunity to share key learning experiences from the previous day.

Youth Collaborative Media Project and Lead Educator Training continued where everyone was working under pressure to finish the video.  Educators groups were to showcase their videos other educators at 14h00pm.  As we were chasing time it was not easy to learn new advanced media skills from team mates.  Nevertheless I had an opportunity to explore more techniques in premier elements.  I enjoyed the showcasing time; videos created by educators were dynamic.

Late in the evening students were finalizing their projects as they were to be showcased on Saturday morning before Youth Live.  Nontobeko told me that together with Mpume were tasked to edit their group video; she mentioned that they were managing.  I was relieved but anxious since editing is very challenging stage.

Temitopi (Nigeria), Tanga (India) and helngiwe (South Africa)

Friday, August 5

Tour to Adobe Headquarters at San Jose, Carlifornia

Breakout sessions were planned for educators to take place at Adobe Headquarters as follows:

Motion Graphics with After Effects: Learn to incorporate motion graphics titles or animations for video projects.

Photoshop and Design: Learn the design, layout and create composite collages that can be incorporated into AYV program.

Connect, Captivate, and Presenter: Learn how to create tutorials to collaborate more easily with youth and educators globally with Adobe Captivate, Connect and Presenter.

My first choice was to attend After Effects session but it was already full then I attended Photoshop and Design.  I found the workshop interesting and it refreshed my skills in using Photoshop.  We only had two hours session which was not enough.  I wished we had more workshops of that kind spread over the days.  After the workshop we explored Adobe building, different departments and cool features of the building which includes: gym, laundry, massages room, inside restaurants, diet health advisors, computer labs, tennis ground and lot more.  All these facilities are available to staff for free.  Adobe has 2000 staff in total.

Youth gathered together at one common venue where they participated on planned activities for them.

After lunch we visited San Francisco attractions to name a few; Beach, Golden Gate Famous Bridge, Museum, Botanic Gardens etc.  This time educators were united with their youth.  We had 2hrs of our own at Pier 39; a very long street in San Francisco. This was a more relaxed day for all of us.

Saturday, August 6

This day was spent on exhibition of work created by both educators and youth.  All eight videos created by educators were screened for everyone to see.  Youth videos were specially screened at the main hall where youth had to first present how they created their piece.  Nontobeko and Mpumelelo well presented their piece and further answered questions from the audience which were specifically directed to them.  They were very confidence on stage such that other teachers commented that they seem to be familiar with public speaking.  They made South Africa proud especially that when we came I was uncomfortable with the fact that educators seemed to be highly skilled and most of them teach media in their schools.  I felt like I don’t fit in and it was a mistake for us to be there.  That was cleared though on day two of our arrival during discussions and media creation.

Mpumi responding to a question from the audience

Adobe Youth Voices Live

In the afternoon we went to San Jose Theatre to attend Youth Voices Live which was also attended by local residents and other people of high profile.  Black Eyed Peas was one of the prestigious guest who both entertained and motivated the audience. 

Youth Collaborative Videos were to be screened at this event including other selected videos from AYV Media Jam.


·         Nontobeko shared a talk with all Summit Attendees about their experiences when creating their own video and the impact that it had on their lives personally and other people who had viewed it.

·         Our video, Children’s Rights in South Africa was one of the seven videos selected to be screened at the theatre.  We didn’t know about this until we were sat at the theatre browsing the programme.  That was a WOW moment and great honour for us.  After the show we were ‘celebrities’ interviewed by local people and media crew about our video and experience at the Summit.  South Africa was on the spot light again!

Nontobeko being interviewed by a media crew


It was a phenomenal week; lots of collaboration, exploring, sharing, Innovation etc.  It was indeed an extraordinary week.

I have learnt that in other countries educators actively work with youth to produce lots of media projects.  They also organize exhibition where educators and youth are invited to share their work.  I am inspired to work with teachers in South Africa to create media projects and to also conduct face to face trainings for them when necessary.  The software that is used is challenging and one can easily give up if there is no strong support or assistance on how to use it.

Thank you to SchoolNet.

Here is the movie on streetchildren called ‘Children’s Rights in South Africa’.  

« Return to Latest News

SchoolNet South Africa is an incorporated Non Profit Company - Registration 2001/012244/08, NPO Number 030-817
and holds Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) Status, in terms of Section 30 of the Income Tax Act - PBO Number 130003557.

Click here to support SchoolNet