The Power of Stories

I think that my worst fear in leaving Zimbabwe was that the 18-year partnership between the International School and Kadyamadare School would not survive the changes in personnel. That fear seems to reemerge at the oddest times, like now as I am trying to work at a distance on a non-profit.


Over the last two decades, I worried when administrators changed at the village school. In reality, each new administrator and members of the School Development Committee embraced working together. New teachers and students at the International School found meaning and strength to fully participate.

In hindsight, I think that my fear actually made me a careful observer. I did not take progress for granted. Constant feedback about the process helped us redirect ourselves. I did not fear failure. We reached that so many times! I think I feared that we would not find sustainable solutions that would cross our cultural, economic, and geographic gaps. It’s funny, but we often ease fear with a “Remember when?” story.

One nurturing aspect of African culture is storytelling. The story of our partnership has been passed down orally and in pictures hanging in village homesteads. Rural and international students learned to use their voices through digital stories about supporting each other and sharing. When we begin to fear, a story is remembered and told. We also watch our digital stories that demonstrate the courage and power of working together. We hope you enjoy this one about a sewing project as much as we enjoyed reliving it. Our stories can strengthen us.

Service Learning Sewing Project

This story shows the joy of collaboration involving a the beginning of a sustainable sewing project in an African village in 2011. Over eighteen years, a Twin School program blossomed into a dynamic working relationship between villagers, their community school, and an International School.

The joint project won a grant from the Association of International Schools in Africa to help purchase sewing machines to initiate local production of uniforms for the students.

Everyone wins when we respect and nurture the strengths of each other. Real innovation seems to result from the enthusiasm and energy generated from weaving wildly varying resources and talents into joint ventures. We made the movie in appreciation of receiving the assistance from AISA, to share the power of collaborative service learning, and to celebrate the human spirit.