Friday, May 2, 2008

Still Alive

Last Friday Grace and I taught for the first time at Nyaluza. It was an interesting experience. We got picked up by the principal at 7:15am. He drove us up to the school. We were introduced to the students at their morning assembly. We were then led to our classroom and waited while the kids cleaned up the filthy room. The students hadn't had a teacher for over a month so the room was a mess and the kids were restless. We weren't told what grade were with or what subject we were teaching, so we had to figure it out on our own. We led introductions by having the students tell us their name and grade, their favorite subject, their life goals and a special fact about themselves. Our first class was tenth grade English. The majority of the class was interested in economics and wanted to become accountants. The kids were respectful and helped us figure out where they last left off and what needed to be done next. Our second class was eleventh grade English. They were a little bit more difficult than the first class. The boys were a riot. The girls were your stereotypical sixteen year old high school girls, chatty and self obsessed. Our last two classes were eighth grade history/geography. Our introduction session went by very quickly with these classes so we actually had to do some teaching. They were learning about settlements and the next topic to be covered was civilizations. We had to talk about the beginning of civilization in Mesopotamia. It was horrible. We looked very silly. In our last class we knew one of the students from Eluxolweni and he just shook his head at us while we taught. It was embarassing. Considering the amount of preparation we had (none) and the amount of direction and guidance we were given (none) I think we did OK.

We plan to prepare some worksheets for next week so that we can really start teaching. We have to prepare the students for their exams in June, which is a scary idea. I can hardly prepare myself for my exams in June, none the less prepare high school kids for an exam I've never seen in subjects I haven't covered in years.

Between our third and fourth class we got a visit from our favorite freshman, Sanele. He came to hang out. We told him about our horrible teaching skills. He made fun of us at first, but then gave us a demonstration of how to properly teach. He spoke loudly and moved around the room pointing out things in the textbook. "Teach like Jason," he said as he jumped around the room, his voice booming. He clapped his hands a lot and kept his imaginary class in line. This inspired us for our final class.

We only had four classes so we got to leave before noon. The walk from the township into town took forever, but we got to see parts of Grahamstown we'd never seen before.

Wednesday at the Raphael Centre I planned the beginning of the beading at the centre. They will start on Monday. The women are very excited. I will get to go up there and lend a hand, which will be nice. The arts festival is right around the corner, so I'm spending a lot of time trying to collect funds to help pay for the photo printing which was given by Kodak at a steep discount. Also, I'm trying to prepare the women to get the cameras and let them know what we expect and how to take a good picture. It's hard because many of the women do not speak English, they only speak Xhosa, so I have to find a Xhosa translator to translate my worksheets and then their narratives in the future. No one wants to do it for free, and I can't afford to compensate anyone. I'm also waiting for some important packages to get here, but everything is getting stopped in customs, which is both annoying and upsetting. I hate the customs system here. Everything takes forever and often packages get stolen.

This week we had three days off for public holidays. Sunday was Freedom Day, celebrating the first democratic elections in 1994 and yesterday was Worker's Day, like our Labor Day. It was nice to have two days off. Since there was no school Thursday, Wednesday ended up being a big night out. It was fun night spent with all of my favorite South Africans.

We only have three more weeks of school, which is mind boggling, but I guess what blows my mind more is that WAC is done with classes and only has exams next week. That makes me a little homesick. I wish I was going home, not because I don't love it here, but because the idea of being home is so appealing. I'll be home before I know it, though, and then I'll be wishing I was here!

Next weekend the WAC kids are going to Hogsback Mountain. It's about three hours from here, I believe. It's supposed to be beautiful. I'm excited to get away. A lot of people went away for this long weekend, but we couldn't drop that kind of money. We're saving up to go away during the last week of May when there are no classes. We want to fly up to Johannesburg and go to Kruger Park. We can't leave South Africa having not visited the famous park. I'm really excited for that trip.

Other than that there's not too much going on. We're enjoying Grahamstown while we can. Today we went to Mad Hatter's, our favorite coffee shop. We were eating our brunch (at 4pm), when the waitress came over with two shots. "The manager sent these over for being such great customers," she said. Grace and I just laughed and exchanged looks. We toasted to Mad Hatter's and downed our shots. This is the third time he's sent things over for us. He's a great guy. The restaurant has an Alice in Wonderland theme so I am planning to draw a few scenes to give them before we leave. Grace has selected them and I will draw them. I'll take photos before I give them away.

This weekend will be spent getting some things done. I have three papers due this month, so I need to start preparing for them. Other than that there's not too much going on.