Interview between Rebekah Funk and Dustin Coraizen

1. Tell me a little about yourself — where did you grow up, what was your childhood and upbringing like, how did you get into teaching, how old are you, etc.?


ANSWER:


My name is Dustin Coraizen. I am 27 years old. I was born in the middle of winter, July 25th, 1992 in a rainy Vredenburg, approximately 15 kilometres from Paternoster where we still live. I grew up in Paternoster, a small fisherman’s village I call home, right under the wings of a lot of strong community women aside from the arms of my mother of course, Esmerelda Coraizin, and sister, Aniska Coraizin. It is true what they say about raising a child; “It takes a village to raise a child.”


My childhood was full of adventure and quiet a lot of different challenges. I am the product of a single parent. My mother took on the role both as mother and father. She made sure that despite the fact that we had very little, that we should still make the best out of what we had. And guess what, the little we had, helped us appreciate each other even more.


My mother worked in the local Fish Factory. Her shifts was very odd and it led to me and my sister staying alone during the night while she was working night shift from time to time. We lived with my uncle in his house at that time, also in Paternoster – Kliprug, after we were moved out of Kraaifontein. He was a fisherman at sea and would often work away for months.


I received my determination and positive drive from my mother. She would work so hard, and always made sure that even though we did not had it easy, that she still spoiled us with a small treat or chomp chocolate every now and then. Keep in mind, her little salary at that time to feed a house hold! That made us really appreciative. The relationship of getting a hiding and a hug at the same time is what I remember as if it was yesterday. That was the thing in the community – one child were everybody’s child, until it faded out as time went by!


I would sit and just admire the drive my mother had while she worked a full time job and still made time to take me by her side to help her in the community with community project. She opened my eyes to try and be better, wanting better and striving for better, not just for myself, but for the future of an even greater community.


I attended three different schools during my schooling career. My primary school in Paternoster, St. Augustine’s Primary where I was head boy in grade 7. A primary school in Vredenburg, Eden Primary where I was head boy in grade 8 and my high school, Weston High, where I was on the matric council of leaders in grade 12. My mother attended all the programs I took part in at school as her work allowed her – and she would cheer me on and support me with everything she had.


I knew all along that I wanted to go into teaching because I could not made up my mind on anything other than teaching. For the records, I wanted to become everything in life, still do - and what better way through teaching I believe. I knew that I wanted to teach and steer young minds towards becoming the best they can ever be. Even if it meant to constantly remind them of their excellence and power to grow and change.


Finances was one of the things that stood between me and my studies, still is, but did not hold me back from achieving them. The local fisherman’s in the community came to my rescue when they came together in my first year of undergraduate studies in 2012 to help me with my registration fees at Stellenbosch University. I believed that once I am able to walk into the universities doors, that life would become much easier – and it did, just a little bit! I immediately started searching for job opportunities aside from my studies. I would work on campus until late, attending all my classes, walk to campus residences, some days without having anything to eat or going to bed hungry, but still was able to complete my studies as I promised myself.


I was fortunate enough to get through my undergraduate studies which consisted out of even bigger challenges due to different factors, but receiving my Bachelors in Education Degree Cum Laude was rewarding enough. My Bachelors in Education Honours Degree followed straight after that, while teaching full time at a primary school in Cloetesville, Stellenbosch. I would work during the day, drive to campus to attend classes and do assignments late at night. It was a rough experience but helped me to become the diverse holistic teacher that I am at the moment while still growing and evolving every single day.


2. How did you get involved with the Paternoster Project?


ANSWER:


I was still busy with my B.Ed. Honours Degree and full time Teaching when I first heard about the plans and goals of the Paternoster NPC in 2016. The local community were very excited about the project, as well as the learners from the local primary schools, ST Augustin’s Primary. We could not wait for the project to start.


My mother got involved in the project and so did my niece that are currently at the local primary school in Grade 2 (2019). I remember how I would get home from Stellenbosch during school holidays to sit and listen to my niece speaking with full excitement about the project and what they are doing there. She would draw pictures of the teachers (volunteers) and have the news letters available for me to read to her from time to time – sometimes more than three times. I kept up to date with what was roaming in the project through information from my mother and niece.


In 2018 I met with the amazing Jaco van der Westhuizen and Andre Kleynhans, for who I have a lot of respect, and Christian Neuber, where I spoke about my goals and plans in lending a hand in the strive for a better Paternoster for all, especially to bring the outside world to Paternoster.


I was asked by Christian Neuber to complete an assignment - which led me in meeting up with Maike, such a vibrant and positive individual. Meeting Maike linked me to the Volunteers and the project directly.


3. Tell me about your role with the Project and what you do on a regular basis?


ANSWER:


My role in the project is still very flexible due to the fact that I am running between Stellenbosch and Paternoster.


I assist with overall drafts with regards to SWOT analysis of Paternoster in understanding the odds and setting strategies to overcome it.


I also mentor the groups of volunteers on the academic side of the South African Curriculum in understanding how to make the learner the centre for planning about the environment, of the environment, for the environment.

I am a at this stage still a full time teacher in Stellenbosch at a primary school in an area known as Cloetesville, previously mentioned. This community is parallel to Paternoster, but in a sense, worse of in almost all aspects if I think about it. I believe that leaders should go into exile to learn as much as they can other othering, before heading back to bring systematic change in their communities.


I am also still a postgraduate student at Stellenbosch University where I have completed my Bachelors of Honours (B.Ed. Hons) in education, and currently doing my Masters in Education (M.Ed.).