Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Today is the kickoff of the two weeks of final exams the students will be having. They have about two exams each day, and are studying a lot in between. Fortunately, exam days are half days and are over after lunch....that is, for a while at least till it's prep time (study time) in the evenings. These kids have a lot ahead of them before they head back home for break, so keep them in your prayers as they take their exams and pray that they don't get overwhelmed or stressed. I finished writing up and printing out the finals for my class last night and once again experienced an I-can't-believe-I'm-actually-teaching moment. After spending an extra hour at the school in the extreme heat and re-stapling all the exams after realizing I had stapled them wrong and then stapling my thumb in the process, I had even greater respect for the teachers and all the crazy hard work they do here. I only had to write one exam (well, two if you include the changes I made for my younger class), while many of these teachers had to write and print out several, and then have grading them all to look forward to! Goodness gracious to be a teacher. God has carried me through this term like I can't believe. I just can't imagine doing this for more than one class.
As you can see in the pictures, I made the most of my last weekend on my own here by spending the entire weekend hanging out at the school with the kids. I managed to draw many more of them and a few of them even drew me! (see picture below right). I love seeing their different interpretations in my portraits :) Onika and Nwabisa, two of my adorable and outgoing younger students surprised me at my door on Sunday morning to fetch me for church and we had just enough time for a little walk and a spontaneous photo shoot beforehand (top picture). And today I hung out a bit with Thandazwa and Zelda (see picture below left), two beautiful older students who are so sweet and quiet and I still hadn't felt quite connected with as much as I wanted to till today. I feel like I finally broke through to them a bit and brought out their wonderful personalities. It's moments like those that I know I'll carry with me when I get home.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
- Napkins don’t in fact mean napkins here. I learned this the hard way when I asked at a restaurant if someone would pass the napkins in front of the entire team of teachers only to find that “napkins” are feminine products here. “Serviettes” is what they call napkins. I caught on to that one fast.
- Don’t try ordering an iced coffee unless you want a full on coffee milkshake. That’s what their iced coffee is here. I’ve tried ordering iced lattes a couple times and it always puzzles the barrista to no end. “You want me to put ice in your latte?!” The whole concept is foreign to them.
- Speaking of coffee, I was incredibly confused when Di, one of our wonderful local staff members let me know she borrowed my “plunger” to make coffee for some guests. Umm, sorry? Turns out that’s what they call a French press. That conversation got incredibly funny fast.
- Bugs crawling/landing on you at all times of the day become second nature. I feel like every day a new creature visits me and violates me in some way. Yesterday evening I had a bug fly into my eye only to discover it still in my eye this morning! I’m still trying to tell myself it was makeup.
- After a month here, I still don’t know where the passenger seat is in a car. I have to follow the driver and see which way they get in before I get in and feel so dumb every time. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it before I leave.
- Speaking of things being on the opposite side, here are a few other opposites: I’ve noticed on several faucets (including my shower) that hot and cold are switched. Also, my fridge door opens on the opposite side. That took a while to get used to.
- My brain refuses to convert rand into dollars, kilometers into miles, military time into regular time, and Celsius into Fahrenheit. Nope, not gonna happen. I’ll just go along with it when people bring any of it up. “Oh my gosh it’s going to be forty degrees today?! Yeah that’s sooooo hot!” Right, to me that sounds pretty cold actually.
- Do not leave your trash sitting there too long! I learned this the hard way. One night I put the rest of an old chicken in the trash only to open it the next morning and find it literally infested with maggots! It took everything in me not to scream and vomit simultaneously. That was by far my most disgusting experience here so far.
- There is a way for a movie addict like me to keep up with my shows and stream movies while I’m here! It’s called a VPN and it’s a beautiful thing.
…I thought for fun I’d also include some food items I've found are better and ones I think are worse (or at least not what I'm used to) in South Africa. (This is just from my personal experience and Of course it might be different for everyone):
- Diet Coke! Or Coke Light, as they call it here. I swear they put something magical on it or something. There’s no comparison, it’s far superior! I’m going to miss it when I go home and most likely won’t be able to drink our Diet Coke again.
- Cheddar cheese. Don’t ask me why, but all of the cheddar cheese I’ve bought/tried here is better than any I’ve had at home. I don’t know what it is about it, but it’s just…better!
- Their Cadbury bar selection! Don’t even get me started on how many Cadbury bars I’ve consumed since I’ve been here. It’s not a healthy number. But I can’t help myself when I’m surrounded by so many different flavors! Cashew coconut, rum raisen, top deck, mint crisp, macadamia nut…the list goes on and on! It’s too much for the chocolate monster inside me!
- Their cream cheese flavors. I just discovered this and my world has been changed. Where the heck can I find blue cheese flavored whipped cream cheese at home?! Tell me and I’ll love you forever.
- Their coffee selection. Almost everything is instant in the stores. Common people! I’d pay big bucks for a Starbucks iced latte right now.
- Their nut prices. I love eating nuts at home and was sorely disappointed when I saw how outrageously expensive nuts are here! Lame.
- Their apple selection. I’m used to a wide variety of choices at home. Here there are about three choices tops but I’m used to seeing only two. Green, and reddish ones that are super grainy. Green it is.
So there you go. I thought I’d give you all a little insight into some of my random little discoveries and learning experiences I’ve had here so far. It’s been an adventure! Thanks for keeping me in your prayers! Until next week!
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Wow, I am amazed that tomorrow is already February! It has already been almost a month since I arrived! Time does fly. It is a strange feeling because on one hand I feel like I have been here months already because I have experienced so much. On the other hand, it feels like time has flown by since the minute I arrived. Now being in my second week of full time school, I feel much more acquainted with the way things run and my position as a teacher. The daily routines and activities have gotten a lot easier for me and I’ve gotten used to my own schedule. I’ve also gotten to know some of the students a little more and have been enjoying spending time with them outside the classroom. Nwabisa and Nontando (see picture top left) are a couple of the bright and cheery ninth grade girls that always bring a smile to my face. They are an absolute joy to be around. Last Wednesday several of the girls drew pictures for me to put on my wall (top right) which made me feel oh so special. While I know it is important to maintain a student/teacher relationship for the long term teachers, my ultimate goal here is to form relationships with the students and make them feel comfortable opening up to me about anything. I absolutely respect the discipline the teachers here try to maintain, but it has been a little difficult for me to be more that way because it does not come naturally. I am getting the hang of it in my classes though, but I try to make sure to show them I want to be their friend outside of class. I could imagine that would get more difficult if I were to stay here longer.
Lately I’ve been feeling so unworthy of God’s multitude of blessings and provisions He has placed in my life, and I wonder why He has given me so much when so many people receive so little. Yesterday evening when I was outside enjoying the sunset (see picture top right) I was asking Him that and all of a sudden He spoke to me. It was so clear and direct that I didn’t even really need to process it. He told me that if I went through more difficulties in life then I wouldn’t be strong enough to come here. In a way it made sense to me and in a way it didn’t. If I experienced more trials like the students here have, wouldn’t I have more to relate to them with? On the other hand, I know myself to be not strong when it comes to trials in my life, and if I were to experience more I might not want to come to a place like South Africa where people are faced with more difficulties and hardships than I can even imagine. Regardless, I was so beyond amazed that God spoke directly to me and answered my biggest question since coming here. I feel His presence with me stronger here than I ever have before and feel my strength renewed daily by Him. It is amazing.
Before I go, I have a prayer request that I am going to keep a little vague for now. A few important things I have kept close have gone missing, and I have so far had no luck finding them. Everything will be okay, and for now I have a peace about it all, but it would be wonderful if there were to turn up again, so prayers for that would be much appreciated.
I wish I could share so much more, but my time (and I’m sure yours) is limited so I’ll leave the rest for later. Thank you all for keeping up with me and my little African adventure! Till next time!
P.S. The picture on the bottom right was taken today in Arts & Culture class. The kids had so much fun with sidewalk chalk!