The February meeting in Johannesburg brought much of the SARiHE team together for the first time and one of the moments of excitement was as colleagues from Rhodes and Fort Hare arrived  in the evening, from circuitous trips, and we all settled down to get to know each other and learn to work together in an atmosphere of sharing, exchange and community building.

For me the highlights included trialling the research instruments. This  was the first opportunity to really explore how we could share, understand, modify and own instruments involving visualising, drawing and storytelling, which would enable the students working with us on the project to explore their own learning journeys in rural contexts.

The Bristol team brought the examples, the Johannesburg, Fort Hare and Rhodes team (and me from Brighton) enthusiastically pitched in to focus on significant focal points, moments and journeys in our own learning histories, from when we were growing up. Rich experiences of influences emerged by drawing our home contexts and locations. As one of those without a consistent community, or local geographical constraints, influences and opportunities I became aware of how surfacing and sharing such influences clarified and valued difference for us all.

We also learned to use Evernote to capture and store images of such influences and things which impact our learning development, a central activity for the student team members subsequently recruited in the three universities. Expertise was shared, technology challenged and the whole was ‘hard’ fun. I am eager to hear how the processes and ownership are being rolled out in the universities.

By Gina Wisker
February 2017