A red pen, some chalk, and A LIBRARY?!
I never really understood what the life of a teacher was like. I’m only teaching two days a week and my mind revolves around these students. I find myself making lesson plans in the shower, going through names in my head at night, and thinking about crafts I could make when I finish my peanut butter and have only the jar left. But, today I didn’t even need those plans! Valentine’s Day is so big in Africa that everything in the schools revolves around it. I walked in, all the kids were dressed in red and white, and Mr. Gaji had a Valentine’s Day poem with questions for the 8th and 9th grade classes. He also had cards for the 5th graders to make their parents, so my job was very easy!! The entire day consisted of writing definitions and directions on the board (chalk) and correcting about 200 worksheets (red pen).
This morning, before I was dropped off, Pearnel told me that a previous Marquette student had found a library at Hlengisa. He told me to be very inquisitive today because something was going on there….so that’s exactly what I did!! When I got there, I asked if they had a library. When I learned it was true, the most information I could collect was that it was not organized and they had no one to manage it. This library is a colorful building in the back left corner of the school grounds. The doors are bright blue with murals of children and books painted all over the outside. I texted Pearnel that I had found it and he replied “they don’t use it. It’s so wrong, kick some butt!” I can’t describe how upset I would be if I knew my child was attending a school with a great sized library that was locked and never used.
When I asked if I could go in, they were a little confused but agreed to let me. They searched for the key and finally came out with a huge ring and said “maybe it’s on here.” As we walked up to the doors of this building, I had goose bumps all over my skin and butterflies in my stomach. I don’t even really enjoy reading (thus the math major) but I can’t describe the excitement I had for this library. It just doesn’t make sense to me that while most schools in this township are struggling to get books just in the classrooms, this building is full of books that the children can’t use. We got to the doors and after trying many different keys, none of them worked. I encouraged him to keep looking for the key while I began my 6th grade reading club in a classroom.
I brought 4 Harry Potter books to begin a reading club with 40 6th graders today. They told me some of them had seen the movie and were interested in reading the book. We got through about 3 pages after a half hour. Although I’m sure the story is going over some of the students’ heads, some were really enjoying it and were able to summarize what was happening. It went better than I had imagined!
In other news, K-House is celebrating Valentine’s Day all together here in South Africa! We picked names out of a hat and that is our Valentine for the day. When I woke up, I had a letter and puppy chow outside my door from the beautiful Lizzy Owens! Everyone is in such a wonderful mood and we are all showering each other with love—so many smiles!
I’m still in awe of how well this house gets along. We are all still so excited to hear about everyone’s days when we get home. Little KHouse update: Today Jamie and Rob got a tour of one of the townships they will be working in and were able to go inside some of the shacks (which I thought was awesome). They are working at “Lotus” which is right in the townships and our entire house will be visiting this site together. Others are slowly getting projects and being invited to meetings at their respective sites, so it’s all coming together!!! We are still a bit thrown off by the wild cows, horses, dogs, goats, and sheep we see on the side of the road…but the mountains are becoming the norm. I cannot believe how much we see on a daily basis—the beauty and the destruction within the same blink. Shacks with the gorgeous mountains in the background…definitely something to get used to.
All in all, things are really coming together and I have so many ideas for my service site. Although I cannot (or would never) demand things be done my way, I can’t wait to see what I can do for them with my ideas.
Thank you all again for your thoughts and prayers. The messages, snapchats, emails, and texts are getting me through! You’re the best! LOTS OF LOVE on Valentine’s Day from South Africa! Miss you all!!