Study Abroad

Half Day and Teaching

May 26, 2017

Hello everyone back home! So far this trip has been very eye opening for everyone I would say. Our schedule was a bit confusing this morning as we thought it would follow the same one we had gotten used to. Today we taught all four grades in the morning, instead of having a break in between to have lunch. The reason this schedule switch happened was because on Wednesdays they have half days.

These half days allow them to take the time to wash their uniforms, and help their families at home. I wish we could have all full days with them but having some time off was nice. My favorite grade to teach today was fourth grade. They are so eager to learn from us every minute we are there. We taught them description words today. For example, tall, short, happy, sad, fun, boring, slow, fast. I love when the faces of our students light up with joy and understanding, because it makes me feel as though they are saying thank you and that our lesson has finally clicked. As a teacher this is 100% the best thing to see from your students. As we continue teaching each grade it's really hard to not want to form friendships with the students. Of course we all keep on telling each other "look how cute they are!" every second we get. Being one of the more quiet people on the trip, I tend to have a lot of time to observe how things are going. I enjoy being able to see the relationships that are forming between the teachers (us) and the students. For example, there is a student in my fourth grade class, that each morning when we arrive she will hold my hand and guide me to the class room, and at the end of our lesson she will hug me goodbye. These moments are the ones that all of us will treasure when we arrive home again. It's such a small gesture, but it's such a special one at the same time. I have seen the students grow to trust and enjoy our company each day.

As our schedule has changed today we got to come back to the campground and have a nice day to just let loose and explore everything around us. After lunch a few friends and I ran off to go climb the rocks, as we waited to be shown a new place to climb. The first place we discovered is beautiful. You can sit out on the rocks and just enjoy the sounds of the birds, the water, and your friends laughing at jokes all around you. I truly enjoy how relaxing it is to just soak up the rays of the sun and reflect on our time here so far. As the time passed we of course got hot from the sun and decided to take on the adventure of finding a place to swim. Don't worry everyone, we were all wearing sunscreen! One of the girls who lives at the camp led us to a waterfall where we got to sit on a rock and enjoy the cool water rushing all around us. The sound was intoxicating, as it drowned out our voices and we got to sit in silence for a while. Then her younger brother came bounding over rocks to direct us to the new place for us to explore. This site was beautiful. You could look for miles and see many waterfalls, trees, mountains, and even some small lizards basking on the rocks around. Little did we know the adventure wasn't over just yet. They took us to their swimming place, which has a dock their father had built. The water was much calmer here, and everyone had a blast jumping into the water below. A few even decided to take a "mud bath" because the bottom on the river felt so much like a memory foam mattress. As everyone was having fun in the water, we heard some rustling coming from the grass near us. Out jumped our favorite puppy named Rusty, who instantly started to play with anyone he saw. Soon followed the two German shepherds, who playfully got into the water with a few of us, and quickly got out when they realized they could be patted by everyone on the shore. As our time at the swimming place came to a close, we got to take a really great group picture on the dock. Then we began the small hike back to our camp ground, so that everyone could dry off and take some showers before our Swahili lesson that night.

Promptly at 5 our teacher came through the door, ready to test us on what we had learned. The role was reversed, and we got to have a fun time giggling at ourselves during Simon Says. Our teacher would tell us a word in Swahili and we would then have to act it out, and this was very entertaining, as she could really tell we greatly needed some more practice. Now I say the role was reversed because we play Simon Says with our students. As our lesson went on we got to learn more verbs, and even how to make sentences. This was surprisingly much easier than I expected it to be. Many of us are saying that we wish to continue practicing Swahili when we return home. As our lesson came to a close, we got to get many questions answered that would help us deliver our lessons to our students the next day. We said good bye to our teacher for that night.

Soon after she left, we began to start creating our lessons for the next day. This is a lot of work because we have to make sure everyone will understand how to deliver the lesson to their students. Soon enough 6:30 came around, and we heard the bell ring for dinner. My goodness we all seem like we are part of a Pavlov experience when this bell goes off. Everyone instantly drops what they are doing and forms a line to get their plate and silverware, then get our dinner. It's such a funny sight to see. During dinner we all have fun reflecting on our day. We discuss how our teaching went, what we liked or didn't like, what we could do tomorrow, and so on. The conversations are never ending as our group of 18 continues to bond. As dinner comes to a close, we are all very excited when we get the news from Tom that we get to have another bonfire! Everyone has really bonded over the fact that we love to have them. We soon start to clean our dishes, and prepare some more of our lessons as we wait for the fire to be built.

At 7:30 we gather around the fire to hear some announcements, and exchange who our angel buddy was for that week. If you don't know what an angel buddy is, we are all given a name of someone in our group and you watch them for that week. At the end of the week, you get to tell everyone who you had and congratulate that person on things you thought they did well, maybe you got to know them better, just little compliments about your person. Of course, this is lots of fun because you keep your person's name is a secret all week long. After angel buddies, some of us continued on with our lesson plan preparation, or spent time around the fire, or got to complete some journaling, or got to work on whatever they needed to do. As the night came to a close the lights flickered to warned us they would soon be turning off. People began to return to their beds, and get some rest before the next day of teaching.

I hope that you enjoy getting to read about our adventures of today. Just want to say a quick hello to my mum, dad, and sis back home! Everyone is doing well here, and really enjoying the time we have had so far.

Sincerely, Alex :)