ALL Thanks to You!!
Another few days have come and passed, yet I feel like I just wrote my last blog. Time flies here… I guess that means I’m having fun! On Friday, we were introduced to our Marquette Theology class. Throughout the class, we have some of the most amazing experiences planned. We will meet the two men who killed Amy Biehl and started the foundation I am working for in her honor. We will also most likely be able to meet her mother who just so happens to be visiting during our time here. This class will also bring about our trips to Robin Island, the apartheid museum, Constitutional Hill, and a Zulu village.
Living in a learning community is an entirely new experience for me. Every day when people get home, we sit and talk about our days. It’s like having 20 parents asking how your day was!! We also really do learn from each other. I was talking to one of my housemates the other day and they brought up their service site. They said the children had so much to ask about America and most of them thought it was all Hollywood. They asked about celebrities we knew and have seen…. Just this simple conversation gave me a plan for my entire day at Hlengisa today.
I began my day with two classes of 9th graders—the students who gave me the hardest time on Thursday. Needless to say, I was shaking in my boots when good ol’ Pearnel dropped me off. He wished me luck and kept honking the horn randomly as I walked up to the door of the school. I have to say, he definitely always makes me walk in with a smile on my face!
When I walked into the first classroom, I was given an entire packet of nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives to teach the 9th graders. I put the packet on the desk and walked away from it for most of the class. After having each student stand and tell me their name and something about themselves, I opened the class to questions about me and America. Hands shot up, one after another. Every class was interested in if I have a boyfriend…..and then why not, if I have children, and my home life. When I told them I was involved in musicals and basketball during high school, they wouldn’t let me leave the classroom until I sang for them. No matter how much I tried to push it off….so yes, me and one other student broke out in Beyonce’s Halo and received the loudest applause I’ve ever heard in a classroom. After Pearnel dropping me off and this applause, I was pretty confident about the day ahead of me and it was only 8:30am!!
As the questions continued, every class, without fail, brought up Hollywood and celebrities. They wanted to know if I see celebrities, which one is my favorite, etc… After I explained that Hollywood is a 4 hour plane ride from my house, they seemed a bit confused. They honestly all thought America is Hollywood. When I explained that Los Angeles is about the size of Cape Town, they couldn’t believe it. They also had no idea that we had crime in the states. I was interrogated about the kind of crime we have and if there are people in the states that have abusive parents and relationships. As much as I have been through culture shock, these children were in shock when they heard some of my answers.
Most of the time, there were people talking and whispering during students’ questions and my answers. It was only when the deeper questions came that the class was absolutely silent. I was asked if I trusted my friends at home. When I answered yes, they asked, “some people say ‘love all, trust no one’ so how can you trust your friends?” I was also asked if I have ever had to choose between my friends and my parents. Though these questions were simple for me to answer, I was astounded by how quiet my answers made these students. It was then that I realized that these are the things we have in common. In America, we are so distant from one another so it may seem unusual to be asked these questions so early…or hugged by people you barely know. Here, they will ask anything and hugs are a simple greeting. They wanted to know things that are apparent in their own lives and how I would deal with them. After all of this, I really felt like I had received their utmost respect.
Fifth grade was a struggle because of the language barrier. They all brought in homemade instruments for our music chapter today. After I gave them notes in “personal and social wellbeing” (PSW), it was time for “creative arts!” Every time I would try to explain rhythm, counts, pitch, etc.. they would just bang on their instruments exactly like I did. I think they had a ball, but not so sure about the whole learning part… But hey! It’s fifth grade and they had fun! It’s only difficult because they don’t understand a word coming out of my mouth. They answer “yes, teacher” to everything I say—even when I ask a question that the obvious answer is no. As I kept thinking about it, it was like when I was in 8th grade Spanish. I was able to read and write anything you wanted me to, but if you spoke at me I would have no idea what you were saying. Now imagine that…..and all your classes are in that language. I can’t even imagine.
I think its safe to say I got through today very well due to all your thoughts and prayers. When I walked in, I remembered just how many people I had rooting for me today. So basically you just put smiles on about 200 South African children’s faces in one day. They all thank you!!! And so do I!
P.S. One student couldn't grasp the idea that I wasn't doing anything for Valentine’s day… He came up to me and asked if he could be my valentine afterward. SO precious!!
Also... QUICK SHOUT OUT to all my previous teachers who have been helping me the past week. You have all saved me, I can't thank you enough!