Friday, August 17, 2012

A day at school


I awoke this morning from a splendid night of sleep and opened my curtains to a stunningly sunny morning.  Ceasar, my growing puppy, stuck his nose under the mosquito net hovering over my bed, and looked at me eagerly to take him out.  I made a quick breakfast of earl grey tea (thousands of thanks to my wonderfully generous mom) and set off to the primary school down the road.

I arrived just in time for the morning assembly, in which the children line up according to shapes outlined by rocks in the ground, and sing a medley of songs.  I followed the standard 6 teacher to his classroom and got a brief summary of what they were learning. 

As we approached the front door of his classroom, he turned to me and said “So if you could teach about the present continuous tense, that would be great.  You have an hour until the next class comes in…there will be three classes total.”

I stared at him blankly, caught my composure and said, “Well, how about you start the class and I can ease in whenever you’re ready?”  (Unbeknowest to him, I had no idea what the heck the present continuous tense was; let alone how to teach it to a group of wide-eyed pupils)

 Class began and, in sync, the students declared, “Good morning teacher, good morning Kitso” A bit startled I said, “Hi everyone! How are you this morning?”

Almost as mechanical as the hello, they responded: “We are fine thanks and how are you?”  There was enough space between each word that it sounded like I was standing in a roomful of robots.  I concealed a smirk and affirmed that I was doing great. 

Thankfully, the teacher took over from there, introducing me to the students and beginning the lesson.  It turns out the present continuous tense is much more simple than I had anticipated.  It’s just adding +ing at the end of the present-tense verbs.  So after a brief preamble, the teacher looked at me and said, “Go for it, Kitso”.

The rest of the morning was entirely fulfilling.  I had the students complete a number of exercises, we played Simon Says while practicing the verb tenses, and I even had a great group debate going on in the second class regarding future continuous and past continuous tenses. 

The reaction I received from the primary school children when I first arrived in Gobojango was a series of giggles and blank stares.  Today in class, however, I was approached with an entirely different response.  Students were raising their hands, and honestly trying to get the right answers.  When they tackled a difficult task or corrected a mistake, they would look at me with enthusiastic eyes until I would give them a high-five. They performed like superstars, which made me feel like a superstar…it was such a rewarding experience. 

The headmaster and teachers keep pressuring me to come in to the school at least three times a week, but I keep explaining that my primary assignment is in the clinic. In all honesty, if it were up to me, I would only go to the schools.  I feel that the children are our best resource to make a positive change in the future of Botswana.  And they’re so eager to learn! For now, once a week is the most I can commit to.  Perhaps in the near future, once the clinic receives another nurse, I will feel less of an obligation to be there daily and have more time to do what I love.

((Quick side note: the damn baby goat is in my yard again! I have no idea how the bugger keeps getting in!  He just sits by my window baying until I let him free. *rolls eyes* I’m not sure if I’m hearing things, but when he baas, it literally sounds like he’s saying “heeeeelllllp”)).

 Now I’m currently sitting in my living room.  The sunny morning has transformed into an overcast and windy afternoon.  In Colorado, this weather would mean a rainstorm or snowstorm is coming; in Tucson, this weather is only seen during the monsoon season.  But here in Botswana, it just means the wind will blow more dust around my house and the tiles on my floor will keep my toes cold.  I love this weather.  I feel so much more productive and less obligated to go enjoy the sunshine.  It’s a Jack Johnson Banana Pancakes kinda weather, and I couldn’t be happier.

I apologize if my recent posts have sounded a bit dull and gloomy; I’ve felt pretty disconnected and therefore a bit lonely since my network has been having severe difficulties and I’ve not been able to speak with anyone from home.  It’s funny how something as small as a phone call or even an email can really make my week. 

I just found a couple crayons in my couch cushions.  I have no idea where these came from..?

Well, tomorrow I set off for Mahalapye to stay with Jeff and Elsa for a night.  Then on Sunday, I will head to Gaborone with a group of other volunteers; catch an afternoon showing of THE NEW BATMAN!! And then settle into the Oasis Lodge where we will be staying for 10 days or so for our in-service training.  Can you believe it has already been three months since I’ve arrived at site?

Some days it feels like these three months have flown by, other days it feels like years have passed since I’ve been home.  When I think about certain things from home, particularly people and certain food items, I get this pressing sense of longing that is very hard to explain.  Like a Chipotle burrito…or Guero Canelo…yumm….But on days like these, where the baby goat whimpers outside my door, the wind howls through my closed windows, and Caesar is curled up on my lap, it’s hard to wipe the smile from my face.

Before I leave you for the day, I would like to share this beautiful quote by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.  It seems appropriate for this post.

Enjoy your weather in your corner of the world =)

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