Adobe’s partnership with Team4Tech sends employee volunteers all over the world, from Vietnam to South Africa to Cambodia. While there are many pro bono opportunities within our own communities, this partnership with provides a unique opportunity to leverage your skills and talent in another part of the world. And on a recent trip to South Africa, a group of six Adobe employees teamed up to develop educators’ understanding and ability to use various digital platforms (e.g., Google Calendar, Adobe Spark, Infographics, and Google Classroom) for their students.
Though the volunteer team was diverse in age, experience and career level, they became a tight-knit unit throughout the trip. “We have different backgrounds and skillsets but a common goal of using technology as a multiplier for educators and their students,” said Steve Aldrich, Category Manager, Strategic Sourcing.
The volunteers worked with educators in Vision Afrika Primary School and Makupula Secondary School. They began their trip by observing the teachers at work. “We started the trip seeking to understand and truly empathize with the teachers through class observation,” Kristen Bales, Search Marketing Manager, said in her Spark video.
While the classrooms, surrounding neighborhood and access to Wi-Fi were all quite different from her typical life, Kristen was surprised by how much she had in common with these students. There were the “same challenges of equipping and engaging students, and the same joys of seeing them be courageous, achieve their goals and flourish,” she said. After class, the kids would enjoy sports practice or dance club.
However, the trip was not without its challenges. Team members had to be resourceful as they encountered unexpected technical setbacks. “Even though we had planned out every detail from icebreaker games to art supplies for our workshop, there was still room for the unpredictable,” Sivaranjani Subramanian, MTS, Software Development, said. “Designing plans B, C and even D is becoming second nature.”
“In building this empathy for teachers, and working in their everyday environment, we’ve also learned to be more flexible ourselves,” added David Lauder-Walker, Director, Content Strategy & Operations.
After class observations, the volunteers worked with teachers in intensive workshops to build upon their digital literacy skills. One teacher shared how she had typed out the same document 30 times because she was unaware of the copy and paste functions on Microsoft Word. On another occasion, the same woman was injured in a gang attempt to steal her laptop. She had not wanted to surrender the laptop, as she didn’t have copies of her report saved elsewhere. The team taught her how to sync her files to the Cloud for better security. The volunteers realized that basic technological access and safety is taken for granted.
“We certainly are leaving with more than what we came,” Sivaranjani said.
Watch the team’s Spark Video about their life changing trip: