Today marked the official first day of school! As I mentioned before, last week the Rock Harbor team had them for the week before they all returned home for the weekend. While the students were away, a bunch of adorable little kids from Bridges' OVC program (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) came to stay for the weekend. It broke my heart to hear some of what those precious little kids go through on a daily basis, and it was so great to see them being taken care of and entertained by the team. On Saturday I went to Stellenbosch with a couple of my friends/fellow teachers for their Saturday outdoor market, which was so much fun! For those who don't know, Stellenbosch is a charming little town about 25 minutes away from where I am. There are a ton of amazing shops and restaurants and I always love spending time there.
On Monday evening, the students returned. It was so great seeing them with all their stuff, ready to settle in. After they arrived, the staff members spent some time in the stifling heat helping all the students find their uniforms. What a task! Oh yeah, did I mention how hot it is here?! The last couple of days have been around 100 degrees! Before yesterday it has been perfect, but if this heat keeps up I might melt away. Our classroom doesn't have air conditioning and gets incredibly hot during the day. I'm sure I'll get used to the extreme temperature eventually if it continues, but for now I'm barely hanging on.
Today, because it was the first day of the new school year, all the students and staff gathered for an assembly before classes started. The staff made a circle around all the kids and prayed over them and the new school year ahead. Afterward, classes began! Since mine wasn't for a few more periods, I sat in on Rebecca (my co-teacher)'s classes. It was helpful to see how she handled the classroom and interacted with the students. By fourth period, I was up. My first and only class for the day was Arts & Culture with the 9th graders, all seventeen of them. I was pretty nervous at first, but by the second half of class I was a lot more comfortable. For me right now, I'd say the biggest challenge is getting all their names down. They're SO crazy and so different from what I'm used to! Once I have them all down and know them all a little more, it'll be a lot easier to call on them and manage the classroom over all. I'm glad I get to ease into the school schedule by only half days till the team leaves next week. I'll be sad to have the team gone! It has been so great having them all around and seeing their faces every day. I've especially gotten close to one girl on the team who I already know will be a lasting friend. I feel so blessed to have already gotten to know some wonderful people here and to have formed some relationships that will extend past my stay here. God is so good. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers!