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!