Today was my first day teaching at school and all things considered, it went well, especially at 7:30 am! Carlie and I showed up at our class BS. 4 to find the teacher was MIA. The kids were all sitting in their little wooden desks, two to each, just staring at us. Didn’t really know what was expected so for the first 15 minutes or so we introduced ourselves then went around the class to hear each of their names. Each child would stand and say “My name is…” real shy then sit down. Pretty sure we asked everyone “What is it?!” Some were easy, like Sara and Mary, but some were hard. We think they were Godfreid, Sammuel-t, and Frederick but that’s all I remember. I’m basically turning the sounds I hear into American names so I can at least try to remember them!
Me & Carlie's class!
When the teacher showed up we were already playing “Button-Button, who has the Button” and the kids were having fun. We explained we didn’t have a set “lesson” for today but we wanted to help with what she was teaching. That was a no-go. She gave us the math book and said, “You can teach math?” Sure! While she was flipping through finding which Unit to give us Carlie leaned over and whispered “You good at math?” Hmmm…is anyone?
With the math book in our hand we tell the kids to turn to Unit 12. I’m frantically scanning the page to see what we’re even talking about. I just started to read and it turned out to be pretty self-explanatory. We taught about consonants and vowels and how to count how many were in a name. They were not understanding exactly how to tell the difference, so I wrote A-E-I-O-U on the chalk board then invited someone to come write their name on the board. They practiced crossing off the consonants and circling the vowels. We also practiced reading charts, understanding a table, flipping a coin and counting how many H (horns) or B (birds) we got out of 10 coin tosses.
Finally when we could see we were losing them we took them out to the schoolyard and played a game in a circle. One person would go around the circle on the inside, kind of like duck duck goose, as we all clapped and whoever they stopped in front of had to put their hands on their hips and kind of bounce up and down then switch places and go around the circle to the rhythm. Everyone was doing these little pansy wiggles like they were embarrassed because everyone was giggling at them. But when they stopped on me…I WAY exaggerated it and everyone was cracking up. It was fun. Tomorrow the teacher gave us an assignment to teach on electrical conduction (?????) and then we’re making volcanoes. Yes!
We came home and for lunch/brunch we had egg sandwiches…straight up scrambled eggs on plain bread. Umm yum…well that’s what I told myself to think. And fries. They serve us fries a lot. I think they think American’s are like obsessed with fries so that’s entertaining. The meals are decent, no harm caused by them, but they are very small. That’s ok. I’ll take small over sick. But we always get sodas with straws as a bonus!
The road to Manyoa Krobo
Next we headed off to Manyoa Krobo for our first A.I.D.S. surveys and teaching. It’s a ways out there and I am entertained the whole way just by looking out the window. We finally got out of the city and into a mountainous area that the boys would have loved for bike riding. We show up and there are about 50 boys/men waiting for us in plastic chairs.
They play the drums and sing for us for a few minutes, we are introduced, then we just jumped right in. Lynley pairs us all up with someone and we begin surveying. These are super personal questions, seeing as how we are dealing with the topic of A.I D.S. and transmission. I’m trying not to laugh as I ask these young boys and men about sex, social customs and personal opinions. But it is a nice icebreaker for when we start teaching I guess.
I am in a group for teaching the first lesson so I open the show. Makes me nervous but my teammates and I will rotate. Getting any response from these people though is like pulling teeth. Apparently it is a social no-no to say you know someone with HIV/AIDS so that part of the lesson will need revision. I began by asking if anyone knew what HIV stood for. Nothin’. Told them “Human Immunodeficiency Virus” and saw that was clearly over their heads. Had to explain how our bodies have a system called the immune system that helps us to fight off bacteria and keep us healthy. When someone has HIV they become weak to fighting off infection…etc. I learned a lot in the 5 minutes of standing in front of these people. Here they are curious to learn and you have to start from the ground up. Big words don’t translate and concepts don’t always make immediate sense as they would for others.
When I was done I went and stood in the back. I looked around after a few people began teaching and just thought, “Oh my gosh, look where I am. Look what I’m trying to do. Look at these people here to learn. I feel like a kid in the schoolyard in front of these people who have lived a life I never will. If I could just laser beam mom and dad here and show them where I am and what I'm doing they wouldn’t’ believe it.” Just surreal.
Such a beautiful and long day. Doing things I never would have imagined and seeing things that I will never and could never forget. So many new things. I hope this blog will capture even a glimpse of what I see everyday. It is such an immersion experience. The people, the lives...I just look and wonder where the opportunity is. What are the chances these people have? Everything I see is so strikingly different to how I grew up and how afforded I am to so so so many chances. I’m just learning so much by merely opening my eyes and seeing the world for what it really is.