The day that I was able to interview Bruce Asia was one of those days when everything felt a bit upside down. At least for my colleague. When driving to the school she realised that she had put her pants on inside out and when we parked at Levana Primary I asked her quietly: “But hey, doesn’t Bruce work at Hillwood Primary?…”. After a short, confused silence, she answered “Yes, he does” filled with laughter. After lots of laughing between us, we arrived at Hillwood Primary and had a photo shoot to capture Bruce’s class with their worm farm. Bruce has a love filled but firm manner with his students and you can tell that he cares dearly for them all. He has a special relationship with Earthchild Project, and he is involved in many other projects to develop Hillwood Primary, too. Bruce is an inspiring person and I am so very happy that I was able to sit down and talk to him.
“I have 49 kids in my class, on the Earthchild days, it’s full house. They’re never absent.” – Bruce Asia
For how long have you been a part of Earthchild Project? This is my first year at this school [Hillwood Primary School], but I dealt with Earthchild at my previous school as well for five years or so.
How did you get involved with Earthchild Project? I was away from school for some years so when I started at Hillwood, Earthchild Project was there already. I took the position of someone who was in the Earthchild Project already. I just continued.
What difference do you feel that the project has made in the lives of the children? It has changed the minds and attitudes of children, especially towards the community. In particular, ECP has taught them about respect and that respect needs to start with yourself. Because if I respect myself, I’ll be able to respect adults. I’ll respect animals, plants, and all living things around us. They have also taught some sort of discipline and have changed those who were undisciplined. Currently, I have a boy in class [with ADHD] and he’s not on ADHD medication. My son is at a different school and he has ADHD and is on medication, so I know how it is. I see the same behavior and patterns with the boy in my class. But he’s now a completely changed child. Whenever it is the Earthchild day, he’s always ready and excited. I think it’s also because of the variation of listening to the teacher all the time and now you get someone from the outside doing these active things such as singing and dancing. With Earthchild they learn meaningful things; to respect yourself, the earth and those around you, and that changes this boy completely and he’ll never be absent. I have 49 kids in my class, on the Earthchild days, it’s full house. They’re never absent.
That is so cool! So do you think that ECP has affected the school as a whole in a way? It has. Do you know what? I hope they will roll out this program to the entire school because now ECP has a number of classes doing this and it’s only those kids who benefit. My dream would be to see the entire school become an Earthchild school.
You already touched upon this, but have you experienced any type of change in behaviour with students? Yes. I think the children are getting in touch with themselves. For me this is an amazing part as where you learn to love yourself, accept yourself. Once you get to that point where you accept yourself with all your failures and all of that, you will automatically respect and love other people.
We ended the interview and got into a discussion about the South African school system instead. Bruce Asia has lots to say and he has experience from different angles of education. His love for what he is doing and for being a Living Classroom teacher shines through and I feel so happy that he is part of the Project!
Interview & Photos by Amanda Norrlander, Intern