Working Team Arguments


There have been internal conflicts among the working group members that the WPI teams are not fully aware of. Although it was sometimes noticeable that there were tensions between the team members, the extent of these issues was not fully known by the WPI students until these discussions happened.


There were numerous spats between the working team members, all of which was conducted in Xhosa. In one case, Zameka, Khungeka, Trevor and Phumelisa were all having a very heated discussion. Trevor initially attempted to translate for us but eventually got so into the discussion that he stopped. From what we could gather, they were upset that CORC had arranged a meeting behind Trevor’s back (according to Trevor) with someone else in the partnership, either the Municipality or WPI. The women got very angry as well and started gesturing and stomping their feet. It was a particularly awkward thing to sit and listen to. We had absolutely no idea what was going on and whether they were mad at us or not. They seemed to forget we were there and then would occasionally point at us. A similar thing happened later with more of the working team after Jack initiated and mediated a discussion. It was interesting to listen to because the occasional English phrase would slip into their dialogue, so it was almost possible to follow what was being said. Overall, Jack seemed concerned that the working team had lost their morale and energy, and that they weren’t taking our being there to the fullest advantage. He concluded the talk by saying that they needed to “clean up their house”, or, in other words, sort through whatever personal issues are getting in the way of productivity.


These arguments were very intense and even frightening at some points. So far all of our work has been done in English, and it was a shocking change to have so much time spent talking in Xhosa. It made us realize how difficult it must be for some of the working team, particularly those that don’t speak English well, to listen to us when we talk amongst ourselves very quickly and idiomatically. It made us feel awkward and ignorant and unsure. Hopefully from now on we can start slowing down our own speech and talking in concrete, simple-syntax sentences so that the working team does not continually experience what we went through when they were fighting in Xhosa.  These arguments also shed some light on the internal system of the working team, suggesting there are personal reasons as to why they appear unmotivated and unresponsive.