Sunday, January 28, 2007

school and the kids

This post is mostly in response to questions Carla asked but I thought some of you others would be interested in the content so here it goes.

This is a boarding school in the middle of the African bush. It was established in 1925 primarily for evangelical missionary's kids.

The purpose is still the same: to provide a western equivalent elementary (grade 1 to 8) education in English at below cost with a focus on the bible and salvation. The goal is that each child will leave having a personal relationship with God and be able to claim Jesus as their savior. All of the staff are faith based missionaries and do not collect a salary.

This year there are 62 children in total. 9% of those children are missionary kids. The all come from a variety of backgrounds, countries, religions and cultural groups.

The public education system is in English but it’s really bad. There is a nation wide exam at the end of grade 7 and kids get that far in school without even knowing English. Teachers don’t show up, and you can bribe your way through school without even doing the work.

The discipline here is very strict. The kids are expected to follow a list of rules that seems to go on forever. Somehow they remember them all though. The punishment of choice is marches. You forget your hankie, speak when someone else is speaking, pinch (or otherwise inflict pain on a fellow school member), or are disrespectful and 2 marches for you! A march is one circuit around the school courtyard. The best time to do a march is during game time as it really bugs the kids when they have to miss fun. I really think that having repercussions for negative behavior is a major positive. In ‘grown-up’ life we can’t get away with the above without suffering for it so why should our schools be any different? Another thing that I appreciate is the prayer that follows each individual child: if they are homesick, disobedient, tattletales etc they get prayed for.

Georgia and Mereshah: you were right! These kids love hugs and cuddles, they also love stroking my arms and how can I be mad at them for calling my arms fat when they say it so lovingly!

Monday to Thursday I am with Leah’s class, the grade 1/2 class. The grade ones are an interesting bunch. All of them are new at the school and just learning the rules and the accepted behavior. Wednesday afternoons, Fridays and Saturdays I spend more time with the Seniors (grade 5-8): swimming lessons, embroidery, rally, reading groups, supervision… Every second Sunday I have a junior sunday school class that can be wild. In my spare time I do marking for teachers, and I have been helping Mr. Ronald with various bulletin boards for his classrooms. (One of which is steps for solving various types of words problems. I always just used common sense and it stood me in good stead but I guess that just doesn’t make it click for some people?!)

Carla- I will have you know that I have not made one single kid cry while trying to explain a deep mathematical secret. Amazing eh?! How many time did you guys cry while I tried ‘teaching’ you!? I also remember running into walls while trying to explain the physics of motion. As of yet, no encounters with walls. I also managed to hold two tables of kids spellbound (sort of) with my explanation of how glasses work. I hope it was right because I kind of made it up on the spot.)

I’ll introduce you to some of the kids with major personality or cuteness factor:

Yahia is one of the new kids in grade one. He is a major discipline problem. You tell him to do or not do something and he just looks at you and then deliberately disobeys. He is also constantly poking, kicking, and hitting other kids. He’s gotten in trouble so much though that the other kids are constantly picking on him and tattling on him. I was supervising playground this morning and I felt like yelling at them all, “mind your own business!” There has been a significant improvement in his behavior over the first two weeks and he has a ton of leadership potential if it can only be channeled into positive directions.

Julius is also new- he’s got the fattest head and the brightest smile. He’s also got a beat inside of him and is constantly drumming things. One look at him and you feel like bursting into song. He also loves giving and receiving hugs (the way to Angelina’s heart!).

Nonde, Chimwemwe, and Kudakwashe are three unrelated little girls who look like triplets (helps that they all have their hair plated the same way). Adorable, especially when they march. God made each of us sooo different.

Jackson is a missionary kid. He’s shy and nervous about being in a new place and he so wants to please everyone. His mom has been schooling him at home during the last year so he got to skip grade one but he’s a bit unsure about this sudden leap. He reminds me of that saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Chijika, Kahalu and Kamiji are sisters whose parents are African missionaries. They sat at my table for the first two weeks and are delightful! The oldest (Kamiji) didn’t start here until grade 5 and she didn’t know any English so the adjustment has been harder on her. The other two have picked up very quickly though. As a rule students are only accepted here if they are in grades 1 to 4. Once the kids hit grade 5 they have established a pretty concrete group of best friends and it is extremely difficult to break through.

There are so many others here that I would love to introduce you to but this is already way too long so I will spare you for now!

PS- I am planning on posting some pictures to fliker asap.


Anonymous said...

Hi Angelina,

Your stories are so interesting and descriptive, keep 'em coming. I can really picture you in Africa now!

Eating the ants found in your cracker box... I don't know how you survive after that!! GROSS!! I guess nothing can phase you after that!

Nothing new much here in Winnipeg. It's super cold, windy and snowy. Work is busy, everyone has the flu, and summer seems so far away. I'm going bowling for my birthday next weekend, and I was sad when I had to skip your email address when I was sending out the email invitation. I can't wait to take you out of sushi when you're back in Winnipeg.

I went to visit Jill last Saturday at her new house to help her with her website. She bought a huge house on Maryland (really beautiful and huge potential too) and is starting up her Wings project today. Pray for her, she's getting into something really significant, and really good.

Sounds like you're really enjoying your time in Africa, and loving the kids. I hope to see pictures very soon!

much love,


carla said...

that boy you were talking about...who always hurts other kids...and the rest who allways tattle tale...Maybe your getting a glimse of daycare life!!!!!:-) I'm glad to hear nobodies crying as a result of your teaching.

have you tried the "where I'm knocking is where I am" on them yet? that's a good lesson. haha.
love you

Suzie said...

Thanks for the photos and the detailed post! They're great! The kids are adorable!
I can't believe you stayed in the room long enough to take a photo of that spider!! It's HUGE!!!!

Take care!

krista said...

hey als!!! thanks for the pics!! mom was oohing and aahing over my shoulder the whole time:):) "well, now there's one of angelina!" "my, isn't that nice! now i wonder if that's an anthill!" "oh! that's a back of a truck!" "and that must be her swimming class!" etc:):) so you made her happy:) love you tons, thanks for the details on the kids. *shudder* have fun!!

Georgia said...

Hey Angelina,

Well I tell ya, your pictures made me want to pull out my Africa album and be nostalgic. HOWEVER, I am SUPPOSE to be getting my sub plan ready for Thursday because I will not be there. It still sounds like you are having a wonderful time so I am truly happy for you. Even if you weren't having a good time I am glad that you got the chance to do something like this. Say hello to the Ronalds for me if you have time. And as an end to my little blurb I won't be in school on Thursday becuase I am getting married at city hall to Tom. My soon to be husband. You'll like him, he has lots of hair. Talk to you later gator.


krista said...

another question, als -- do you see much of the extreme poverty and cases of starvation at sakaji??? or are you sheltered somewhat from that?? have you been out into the village(s) yet??

Anonymous said...

Hey Angelina!
I finally figured out (thanks to Gab) that if you post as anonymous you don't have to be a member and start your own webpage! Phew... I was getting so frusterated trying. It sounds like you have having so much fun!! I love the marching punishment, it's really.. well not canadian. I'm sure it works really well. Anyways I just wanted to check in and tell you I'm really enjoying reading your blog. It gives me stories to tell Ben at night, sinse my life is so uneventful. Have a wonderful time!
love ya

Anonymous said...

hey ,
the kids seem cute. this is janine, the nerd. hope your doing fine in africa. gotta run. bye