Wooo, it’s been awhile! Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to this blog, but that’s what happens when you live in a foreign country and have limited Internet access and didn’t bring your computer. Well, I got back from South Africa yesterday morning, so it’s time to give a traditional South African isiXhosa greeting: Molweni, ninjani? Hello! How are you?
Before I forget, the URL for our trip blog is http://www.gouchersouthafrica2012.blogspot.com if you want to check it out and see some pictures. I will probably put some more posts up there in the next few days.
South Africa is an absolutely amazing country. I can’t say I recommend it for tourism, at least not Grahamstown, because if you’re American, you’ll find that the day works much different then ours does. By 5pm everything is closed except the one grocery store in the town. Everything is closed on Saturdays by 1pm, and Sunday nothing is open except the grocery store. But if you just want to go there to see a developing country and immerse yourself in their culture, there is plenty to enjoy. If you want to see something different and…kind of sad, I highly recommend it.
Teaching, however, is another story. Having no prior experience with elementary school children, it was so different to go into the classroom over there. I taught fifth grade, a class of 21 students. The school was called Ikamvalesizwe Combined School, meaning it’s a K-12 school, and it was located in a large township on the border of Kenton on Sea, Eastern Cape. A township is what Americans would call a ghetto. Dirt roads, stray dogs, shacks, little black children, you name it, just to rattle off a few things. The school is considered disadvantaged; they have about 20 teachers for their 400 students, and no library or cafeteria. The kids eat food their parents come in and prepare for them, and they eat outside, as it’s an open air school, meaning only the classrooms and office are indoors. The school always smelled like a petting zoo and the kids wore tattered and ripped uniforms, but they were so happy to be there to learn from us.
Teaching them was difficult, mainly because English isn’t their first language. Some students were much better then others. Thankfully, I had a teaching partner who is a native South African who grew up right in Kenton and even went to the school. She was able to translate a lot for the kids to help them understand me and get out what I wanted.
That’s all I can think of for right now, I’m still jetlagged and behind on sleep. Knocking back alcohol on a plane is NOT a good idea. Especially if it’s red wine and Amarula.