Latvijas Antroposofiskās biedrības mājaslapa

From South Africa to the Goetheanum

From South Africa to the Goetheanum

By: Dr. Virginia Sease
August 22, 2012
Category: Anthroposophical Society
From Anthroposophy Worldwide 2012-07 
 Joan Sleigh
At the 2013 AGM the Executive Council at the Goetheanum will suggest Joan Sleigh as a new member. Joan Sleigh grew up in a Camphill community in South Africa with English as her first language. The mother of four studied Waldorf Education in Germany and has taught in schools as well as in teacher training.
Especially since the opening of the borders to the Eastern European Countries in the early 1990s of the last century and due to the greater travel possibilities from people in Asia, most notably China, in recent years a mode of unilateral communication also has gained prominence. English serves today not only the English speaking nations but also figures as the mutual language for citizens of many countries when they step outside their national and ethnic boundaries.
In this regard the Goetheanum and the Anthroposophical Society are not exceptions, as we have mentioned recently in No 4/2012 of Anthroposophy Worldwide in connection with study possibilities at the Goetheanum. We welcome the fact, however, that many students who speak English as their first or second language choose to learn German in order to gain access to Rudolf Steiner through the original language.
Growing up speaking English
Some time ago the Executive Council members decided to seek for a person to join us in our work for the General Anthroposophical Society who, like Virginia Sease, comes originally from an English speaking country, has English as her or his mother-tongue and with a corresponding education. Of course, in addition to a strong background in and dedication to Anthroposophy, an important requirement is that this person also be fluent in spoken and written German. Age also plays a role in such a search.
We are delighted to announce to the membership worldwide that we have found a person who we feel meets all of these requirements and has many other significant attributes as well. After a time of comprehensive consideration Joan Sleigh of Cape Town, South Africa, has agreed to join us in our work in the Executive Council and in the Collegium of the School of Spiritual Science. She has met not only with the members of the Executive Council but also with the Section Leaders. The positive affirmation of her in both these circles was unanimous. In November the General Secretaries will have an opportunity to meet her. During the Annual General Meeting in the spring of 2013, the Executive Council at the Goetheanum wants to ask the members to confirm Joan Sleigh as a new member of the Executive Council.
Childhood in Camphill Hermanus
Joan Sleigh was born in 1962 to parents living and working in Camphill Hermanus, South Africa. She describes her childhood as happy also because she had four siblings. Those who are familiar with Camphill Hermanus will appreciate that brothers and sisters are important as it lies in a rather isolated protected surrounding in a bay area east of Cape Town. When her parents pioneered a new Camphill, Alpha, the family moved. Her father, Julian Sleigh, a priest of the Christian Community, also built a chapel on the site and her mother, Renate Sleigh, a nurse, took care of medical situations and carried the cultural life such as festivals. When Joan was three years old her family spent one year at Camphill Botton Village (UK). During this time she met her maternal grandfather, Karl König, although she was so young that she has little recollection of the meeting.
Joan Sleigh had the advantage of a Waldorf School but she also then attended an Afrikaans farm school close to Camphill Alpha. This led to a proficiency in Afrikaans.
Her life in South Africa experienced a pause between 1982 and 1995 as she married and moved to Bochum (DE). During these years she was a devoted mother to her four children. Also along the way she attended Waldorf Teacher Training in Witten-Annen. Afterwards she taught English and handwork at the Widar Schule Wattenscheid for three years.
Working as a class teacher
When she then returned with her four children to Cape Town in 1995 she was asked to become a class teacher at Michael Oak Waldorf School. As of this time she has completed two full cycles and one half cycle as a Class teacher. In December 2012 her current class will complete the 7th grade which marks the end of the class teacher time in South Africa.
In 2007 she also began lecturing at the Centre for Creative Education, the Waldorf Teacher Training program in Cape Town, which she still does at this time. At present she is completing her Master's degree with a focus on leadership connected with adult education. Joan Sleigh recently began to represent South Africa in the Hague Circle, an international group which works in conjunction with the Pedagogical Section of the School of Spiritual Science. In addition, she has strong personal connections with Europe as three of her adult children and two grandchildren live in Germany. At the moment only one daughter resides in Cape Town.
Whenever someone is called to the Goetheanum to serve in the Executive Council or as a Section Leader, many tasks which that person has carried suddenly must be taken on by someone else. This represents a sacrifice on the part of the Anthroposophical Society in that country and for any anthroposophical institution with which the person was connected - usually in a sphere of high responsibility. The person's connection with the work in the “home country” remains a vital part of the new tasks which need to be addressed and worked upon; however the horizon widens considerably as the responsibilities encompass a far greater whole.
Making sacrifices
We look to the members in South Africa with gratitude for their gracious willingness to accept the situation that one of their very active members will not be present on a daily basis, however she will surely continue her work in a vital – if metamorphosed – form at the Goetheanum.
In conclusion to this brief introduction of Joan Sleigh I would like to add a personal note of gratitude that aspects of the work which have developed over the years will continue to receive attention and that I will be in a position to actively accompany this fine new colleague for some time if the membership affirms her appointment at the Annual General Meeting in March 2013.
Virginia Sease
Executive Council at the Goetheanum

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