A Change in Course (November 16, 2015)


Coming into the week we had a decent idea of what we wanted to accomplish with our map, but had a lot of questions about it. To answer these, we set up a meeting with our sponsors to agree on the map’s details to ensure that it would be made in a way that Sizakuyenza wanted and that it would be useful for them. We also wanted to check in with our co-researchers to see how they thought things were going at around the halfway point of our time with them.

Cast of Characters

WPI Team





SettingWe had decided to attempt to “divide and conquer” as a group. This meant Brendan and Marguerite would meet with Gershwin, Nontembiso, and Vuyiswa in the one of the outside counseling rooms to discuss the map, while Jenn and Emily would stay in the container with the ladies to evaluate how the project was going and develop the email we would be sending to organizations in the area.

Planning Questions

Questions for Gershwin, Nontembiso, and Vuyiswa

  • What does Sizakuyenza expect out of the map?
    • What will they use it for?
    • Will they want to update the map?
    • What form should the map be in (Physical/Online/Database)?
    • How will the map look (Satellite vs Streetview)?
  • What will make our map different from the multitude of maps that seem like they serve the same purpose of our map but are not in use?
  • Does Sizakuyenza have a good way of getting maps?

Questions for Thandi, Sylvia, Dube, and Sbu

  • How can we improve our teaching? (example: we think we still go too fast sometimes, especially in the big groups)
  • How are they feeling about their teaching abilities?
  • How do they feel about the mapping?
  • What skills do they want to practice more?


Meeting with Gershwin


As the project was progressing we found ourselves giving increasing amounts of time to mapping. With this time, we researched the current maps available to the community and more and more maps similar to the one we were planning seemed to be popping up. This left us questioning whether or not these maps were actually being used. With the thought of usefulness running through our heads, we set up the meeting with our liaisons to ask them the many questions we had gathered to really break down why current maps aren’t being used and what they’re looking to get out of it. Up until the meeting, we believed the map would include large and small service organizations found with the help of our co-researchers and the Internet.

Our very first question, “What does Sizakuyenza expect to get out of the map?” launched Gershwin into a detailed explanation of the map that answered all the questions we had planned on asking. As the discussion of the map began, Gershwin informed us he is not looking for a map of service organizations because so many of these already exist or are in development, but rather a rudimentary database and map of the Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) in the surrounding area. These types of organizations include things like civic organizations and neighbourhood watches.

This initial news made it seem as though we would simply be shifting gears, but as the conversation continued it became clear that our two main goals were becoming distinct entities. The only real way to learn about these organizations is through conversations with community members. This meant that all the google searching, website work, and emailing we had been working on with our co-researchers would not play much of a role in the map.

What we believed the map would be used for was also changed during our meeting. Gershwin had described that this map would create a pulling effect, so instead of setting up a referral system it would be pulling the community together, and helping Sizakuyenza to understand what is going on in the communities. The map was becoming more like something that could be used to serve Sizakuyenza’s agenda for next year, as Sizakuyenza wants to begin making connections with these small CBOs, and the first thing they need to know is where they are and what they do; this is something a map would do quite well.

The feelings upon leaving this meeting were a mixture of relief and stress. At last we finally knew what and why we were mapping, but we knew our plans had to change significantly.


Now that we got some direction, it was time to print a base map

Meeting with the Peer Teachers and Sbu

While the meeting with Gershwin was happening, the ladies had a short refresher on Microsoft Word, after which we quickly moved into drafting an email to send to organization representatives for the asset map. This, of course, was before we learned of the outcome of the meeting mentioned before. While it was a little bit of a slow start to the drafting process, in the end, there was a lot of creative brainstorming done, which eased the transition into our next topic.

Thandi, Sylvia, and Dube working with Jenn on the Computer

As with most weeks, we wanted to have a chat about what improvements the women would like to see from us. We asked our core group to really emphasize what is going wrong, as well as anything that we could do to make things more understandable. In the past we had been getting a lot of praise, but this week we really wanted to hear their honest opinions. Sbu translated everything in an attempt to really make sure we could get the best feedback possible and to make sure Dube, Thandi, and Sylvia understood exactly what we were asking and why.

Once the question was posed, there was silence as the women digested the request. Quickly, the women and Sbu began a lively discussion in Xhosa that lasted 5 minutes. After the discussion died down, Sbu and Sylvia articulated two main points: as a group, the women want to teach more, and they want everything that will be printed out for the next day’s session on our small group days, so they can review it that night and prepare. These were points that were great to hear and aligned with increasing the core group’s responsibility with the teaching, so that they would be able to without the WPI team. Overall, the chat yielded two very helpful insights into the way the group sessions were going and the core group’s visions for future sessions.

Reflections and Discussion

This day was not only the halfway point, but also a turning point for our project. Up until that moment we had been making all possible attempts to bridge the two tasks of creating an asset map and empowerment through IT learning, but after finding out that technology would play a very small role in the methods of this asset map, we felt stuck. It was hard news to swallow, but we realized that after working steadily for so long it was important for us to realize that it all can’t go as planned.

Despite the news, our team was still determined to do all parts of the project we had set out to do. As we re-evaluated, we realized it would make more sense to slow down, so that the women could learn a few programs fully instead of only parts of some. We also determined it would be nearly impossible to map the majority of CBOs, as we once thought we could, so we changed our mapping goals to simply leaving behind what we think will be an effective method to continue the map.

With the many new tasks our team got, we lost sight of our role in determining the theme of our project.

A week or so after this turning point our map changed again, but this time it became something that would actively benefit our co-researchers. The CBO map made a lot of sense for Sizakuyenza as an organization, but for our project and the women we were working with it would be of little benefit. Instead we proposed creating a map of computer and Internet access points, melding our two projects into one and creating a valuable resource for the continuation of this program. We had to realize that we were allowed to propose changes to our project based on what we thought was best, and didn’t have to just listen to what our sponsor and advisros asked for. We wanted to do what would help our co-researchers the most, and we saw the access point map as a way to do this while bridging our given goals of creating a map and creating a technology teaching program.