I’m sorry its been so long!! It’s been quite the busy week which meant not a whole lot of down time and hardly any sleep.
I should have caught you up when I was on cloud nine on Tuesday afternoon! At Hlengisa on Tuesday, I was finally able to get into the library during one of my breaks. I talked to the teacher who was in there and she explained that the library was only used for her class. She teaches 1st and 2nd grade “letters” and they didn’t have enough classroom space for her, which meant the library became her classroom two days a week. The other days the library wasn’t used at all. Even on these two days, though, the books were never used. The library is what they call a “container” which is basically like portable classrooms in the states. All the walls are full of bookshelves. In the center, there are brand new wooden tables and chairs stacked up that have never been used. I spent each of my breaks Tuesday looking through the books. With each new book I picked up, I could hear the cover cracking like any new hardcover would. My jaw just continued to drop further and further as I was in awe of these books.
My English classes also all went very well this day (between my escapes to the library). I started reading a short story with my 9th graders that was actually provided by the school!! Though most of them were able to read the words, we had to stop quite a bit so that I could define many of the words. In my 8th grade classes, I was told to go over periods, exclamation points, and question marks. After about 6 examples, I realized the kids already knew all of the material….so I brought out my story dice!! I found 9 dice in KHouse with pictures on each side. I gave one die to each student, put them in groups of 6, and had each group write a story including every picture that was rolled. Not only were they ecstatic to have a new activity that they’ve never seen, but they were so excited just for the dice. Some of the students didn’t even know how to roll a die….there was spinning, rolling, throwing onto tables… anyway they could get a picture!!
After classes, I was able to bring my 6th grade reading club into the library!!! I have never seen children so excited to go in a building. I got to the container and it was swarming with students. I walked up to open the door and as soon as I even got the door a crack open, the kids charged. They ran and pushed to get inside as if there were just mounds and mounds of ice cream and candy on the other side. They quickly took down chairs and sat in groups waiting for my direction. I gave each group a book about a South African Historical Leader. Each book was about a different person. These books were easier to read because they had heard most of the words, and they were actually learning about major figures in their own history—black and white. As I walked around, the children were silently listening to one another as they passed the books in circles, taking turns reading. After about 20 minutes, hands shot up asking me if I could ask them questions about the books!! (BOY WAS I IN TROUBLE! I hadn’t read them all!!) I quickly scanned each book and asked pretty specific questions—each of which they knew the answers!! Needless to say, I was just about the happiest girl in South Africa.
Pearnel, Laree, Rob, and Jamie then showed up after their service site to pick me up. I thought Pearnel was going to cry because he was so happy these books were being used. We stopped reading early so the children were able to meet us and ask questions. Of course, in no time, Jamie then had them all singing Shosholoza with us. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I have never felt so connected with these children or another culture before this point. The video is posted on facebook if you’re interested in seeing the singing!!
On Thursday, the four girls in my house volunteering for Amy Biehl all went to “McDonald’s Golf Day” which is Amy Biehl Foundation’s biggest fundraiser. About 150 men came to Rondebosch Golf Course and we were in charge of selling raffle tickets all day. It was very interesting to see the fundraising part of an organization after being on the working end of it for the past couple weeks. The work we do is very sugar coated for these huge companies and men. Although none of the information was a lie, there was definitely a little coating to the real work done—especially when we were interviewed for TV.
Funny thing about the fundraiser…all four of us showed up in sundresses, ready for the country club feel of the golf club. When we got there, everyone else was in jeans and we were told to put our t-shirts on!! So there we were..the only 4 Americans, in dresses, with t-shirts over our dresses. Good look, huh?! I definitely thought so! Everyone was still very willing to give us money though, we collected more than I ever thought we could selling just raffle tickets!!
This weekend consisted of Robben Island and Kloofing. Robben Island was amazing to see, but a very rushed tour. We were able to see where the men slept and specifically Nelson Mandella’s cell. It was interesting that there are actually people living on the island right now. All the children who live there take a ferry to school each day and all the adults work on the island. It is their job to keep up with all the maintenance and the one shop on the island. It was an interesting tour—pictures with more information to come on facebook!
Kloofing was also a blast!! Basically, we were picked up at 7am and brought to the middle of mountains after about an hour long drive. We strapped on harnesses, hiked to the middle of nowhere, and roped up! In no time, I was walking down the middle of a waterfall with nothing but a rope holding me above a huge pool of water. We repelled down two waterfalls and at the end of the second one, we were allowed to cliff jump into the pool. The water was freezing, but we had a gorgeous (and hot) day so it was more than refreshing!
Once again, thank you for all the thoughts and prayers. I cannot explain how much communication with home has helped me here. I hope to get a new blog up on Tuesday with more about what I intend to do for Hlengisa School. Please check back for that one because I may need just a little help from home!