Monday, August 27, 2007

the beginning...

but no way to begin!

There is SO MUCH I want to write about, observations to note, people to introduce, places to describe -- I'm finding it hard to put my finger on where to start. So, while my host family is amazing, and my trip to see the wildflowers/rock art in Namaqualand over the weekend was incredible, I'm electing to focus on what I came to South Africa for in the first place: the children.
To sum it up, I love them. I adore them. They are so beautiful and loving and unique, and I'm unbelievably fortunate to have this opportunity to work with them. And I have so many ideas on how to help them learn and grow.

My main goal on this project is going to be establishing some sort of day-to-day routine/curriculum, as currently there is very little (if anything) in place. As it stands right now, there's not even a class roster. And while the school's two "teachers" are lovely, caring women, they are not trained, nor are they very educated.

So, today I jumped right in -- we began learning shapes (I cut a heart out of red construction paper for each of the children participating), then colors, then colored shapes. Eventually we did "opposites" (very physical -- we were big/small, up/down, loud/quiet, and so forth) and animals. We also read a children's version of The Jungle Book. I tried to be as animated as possible, as most of the children speak very little to no English. I'm amazed they can stay so attentive when the words are foreign. And they are so eager to learn, pointing at things and having me name them.

Following all this, each child sat down to have his or her picture taken. Quite the production, I assure you, this one at a time thing! My plan is to have two copies of all the photos made. One will go to the child's family; the other will become a name tag. I figure that this way, they'll start recognizing their names and I'll have an opportunity to learn them! Eventually, I'll take the pictures away, and they'll have to find just their written names. We'll see how it goes.

I'm also going to try and get a proposal going to buy some cubbies/cabinets for the school, with hooks and shelves. Right now, jackets and backpacks are just thrown about on desks and tables in the rented room where the daycare is currently housed. Again, we'll see. After all, "we've only just begun!" (You can sing that last bit if you like :) ).

Well, I'd best be on my way. My apologies for any spelling mistakes/ grammatical errors. I've only got so much internet time (I'm at a cafe), so I'll have to come back and do any editing later! And hopefully I'll also have an opportunity to post pictures soon, too. I tell you, I absolutely love these kids!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

london calling

Sitting in Heathrow with seven minutes of internet time remaining to let you know that I am so far safe and sound (though unfortunately completely sleep free).

I've already done some walking, reading, browsing, eating, people watching, and emailing; now it's on to the tooth-brushing and further time-killing, as my flight to Cape Town isn't until 7:20 pm and it's hardly noon. Ah well, hopefully the lack of sleep means I'll sleep through the eleven hour flight south. We shall see. For now, I'm off to rid myself of coffee breath and swallow a couple Advil. Cheers.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

anticipation has a habit to set you up...

Four. More. Days. (!)

Less, actually -- come this time Monday, I'll be on an overnight flight to London. Well, hopefully, provided there aren't any delays/other major disasters.

I'm ready to just BE THERE -- no airports or airplanes, no packing left to do or goodbyes left to say. Practically speaking, I'm not ready. I have laundry to do, for one thing. There's money to transfer, traveler's cheques to sign, forms to fill out, gifts to buy. But still, inside, I am so READY. I want everything I "have" to do to be over, out of the way. And no more of these crazy dreams waking me up in the middle of the night, either. It's all airports and Germany these days (er, make that nights). Course, right before I went to Germany, I kept dreaming I was pregnant via immaculate conception, so perhaps this is an improvement.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted. And soon enough, I'll be writing about my weekend trip here -- an actual African experience instead of the anticipation of one (of many, in fact!) :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

gearing up and counting down

This is just a quick post to say that I haven't forgotten my promise to write about something South Africa related! Because I have indeed been preparing. On Monday morning, I went to REI with meiner mutter to pick up a few required/suggested items: sleeping bag, insect repellent, oral rehydration salts -- you know, the usual. Still haven't quite gotten my mind around actually packing. All I know is that I want to travel with as little as possible. Less stuff, less burden. As for further preparations, well...

This weekend, I was able to watch two (very different) South African films. The first, Cape of Good Hope, is a sort of romantic comedy, though there are some underlying race- and culture-related themes. I rented it figuring, 'Hey, South Africa, great,' and after I got it home realized that the entire movie was filmed in Hout Bay, where I'll be living. Definitely a plus.

I also watched the documentary Amandla!, which was so fascinating and inspiring. It examines the role of songs in the South African freedom movement, from the beginning of the apartheid era to the release of Nelson Mandela. Incredible music, incredible stories. I'd definitely recommend this film.

I've got a stack of guidebooks checked out from the library, and three more are on their way from Amazon, but all that'll have to wait 'til tomorrow. At the moment, I'm having trouble thinking of anything more than my pj's and pillow, which tells me it's time for bed. Until later, then -- good night!