Hello from South Africa!
By this point in time, everyone is aware of all the fun, exciting adventures I am having, so here is a little bit more about the school before I recap the week.
The school I teach in is called Mamre Pre-Primary. My students are 5 years old and most come from very poor backgrounds (these are the kids living in the townships for the most part). They all wear uniforms to school though so its hard to distinguish their individual backgrounds. Their teacher is Miss Verna, and she is very strict with them, but she has to be. I work with 2 other volunteers in the class, my friends Mike and Lindsay. The classroom has a very religious focus, for example, they pray in the morning, before lunch and before dismissal, as well as sing songs about religion. Its a bit odd coming from the States which practices a clearly defined separation of faith and education, but I honestly think it is good for the kids and does no harm. Our job as volunteers is to help Miss Verna and give each kid individual attention. The class has 32 students, so you can probably imagine they do not get much one on one time with the teacher. We help encourage them, teach them songs and dances, play with them, discipline and facilitate. Out of 32, only 4 speak some English. So doing all of the previously mentioned tasks is quite difficult, considering I do not speak Africaans. This is a challenge that will no doubt help improve my over all communication and cross-cultural skills though.
If you know me, you will probably know I am not the biggest fan of children in the world. I have to say though, these kids are wonderful. There are a few that I would prefer to not work with, but for the most part, they have all really inspired me and touched me. I have my "favorites," which include a little girl named Taylo, who is wise beyond her years and has a very soulful voice. She knows some English and helps me translate what the other kids are trying to say. She just seems to "over it" when the other kids are going crazy, I wish she was my little sister! There is a little boy named Ritley who is a huge flirt and blows Lindsay and I kisses constantly. He's adorable and always sets a good example of behavior for the other students. Zoey is just about the sweetest little thing, I want to adopt her. She is very shy and quite, and smiles all the time.
After school, we are very lucky to have a great deal of down time. Monday we went to Blouberg Beach and sunbathed and watched the windsurfers, (which looks so much fun, I think we are going to try next time we go). Tuesday we just hung out around Mamre, did some hiking and walking but mostly just spent time as a group talking. Wednesday we went to Camps Bay, but the weather was a bit too chilly, so eventually we left the beach and just walked around and had dinner. We ate at this incredible Italian place and shared wine and food together. Today (Thursday, 27 January) we are in Cape Town to say goodbye to Mike, he's leaving very early Friday morning. The rest of us are going back to Mamre either Saturday or Sunday.
It's Lindsay, Vanessa and I's last weekend in Cape Town which makes me realise just how fast time has gone by! I can't believe I only have a week left with the kids and with all the other volunteers. After this, its on to Italy where I will have a chance to reflect and plan the next stages of this life in an incredible city, Rome.