Tuesday, June 21:
Well, today was an extremely challenging and trying day for me; just one of those days where you don’t wake up feeling so hot and then throughout the day things just don’t go as planned. For starters, I woke up feeling really sick again; completely congested and very lethargic. However, today was the day we were handing out the notebooks and the bags so I was still extremely excited about the events to later come!
We got to school at the normal 9:15 time and went straight to our classrooms. Our kids were all so excited to see us, and thankfully the teacher was in today to help us (although most of the time she just sat there and smiled and wasn’t much help with translations). We handed out their notebooks which we loved, except we were 9 short due to the fact that we had 25 extra students today..leaving us with a whopping total of 105 students. Since we went from front to back, the 9 who didn’t get notebooks were the group of boys that always sit in the back against the wall. I felt extremely guilty for not bringing enough, even though yesterday we were promised that the 80 students was our exact class. We carried on with the lecture, and I gave the 9 boys some loose-leaf paper from my binder but they still didn’t really participate.
I would read a line of the short story, Katie would then write the line on the board, and then we would have the students repeat the line from the board and write it in their notebooks. Most of them were so great! Their handwriting was very neat, they stayed in the lines and they understood the words. It is always the same students that participate, and it’s hard to get others involved when they don’t speak much English and we have 90 other students to focus on. Anyways, after they all wrote the story we read it outloud together (again, everyone all on different pages academically) and then Katie and I acted out the story to help them better understand. I am not sure if it worked or not, but at least they got a kick out of Katie and I acting like chickens! After the story was over, we decided to try to teach them some punctuation, which failed miserably. All they understood was a question mark, and they couldn’t pronounce “exclamation points”, let alone grasp the concept. After about 10 minutes of trying to explain quotation marks and exclamation points, we realized we weren’t getting anywhere and the class was growing anxious. We then handed the class over to the teacher, who continued with their normal lecture. I sat in that classroom feeling extremely discouraged, and it only grew.
We took our break at the normal 11 am time, where Allison and I tought them American dance moves, such as the “Bernie”, the “Stanky Leg” and the “John Wall”. They thought it was absolutely hysterical and we got some pretty great pictures. As we headed back to our classrooms after break, all of our students were doing the Bernie. Success. Katie and I then decided to hand out the bags, which I had brought in earlier with one of my suitcases. The students had been staring at the suitcase all day so they knew they were getting some sort of surprise at the end of the day. We told them we were about to give them a present and that they had to stay seated or they wouldn’t get one. Of course, once we pulled the bags out it was complete chaos! We got completely bombarded, kids were screaming and pulling bags out of our hands and the straps of the bags were ripping left and right. After the bags were all handed out, we realized we were short 3 bags which, again, increased my discouragement, but Katie and I knew there would be a different amount of students every day so there wasn’t going to be a better time to hand them out. I don’t know which 3 students didn’t get the bags, because if I looked at them I would have cried, but Katie and I are going to try to put together some sort of present for them tonight- as well as making 9 more books that we were short of this morning. As all the children were holding onto their bags like their most prized possession, they started running up to me and Katie and giving us the biggest hugs telling us they loved us and how thankful they were. I got really teary eyed as I was completely swarmed by hugs from our class. The thing is, here in Malawi everyone shares everything. Whatever they have is scarce, so they grow up learning to share with their friends and their families. Katie and I felt bad that the rest of the classes weren’t getting as many goodies as our class was, but at the same time a lot of them are siblings and will be able to share the bags. They will definitely make their way around, and the gratitude our students showed made it all worth it. Yes, the fact that straps were ripped off of a lot of bags was very upsetting and frustrating, but they are used to fixing things here and I’m sure it will be fixed in no time.
As we walked over to the college at noon, I was a jumbled mix of emotions and couldn’t really handle it. I felt guilty that our lesson didn’t work out as planned, I felt so sad that we didn’t have enough books or bags for everyone, I was sick in itself, and I got so anxious thinking about everything I want to give, but can’t give, these children. Some of them carry around all their belongings in plastic grocery bags they find in the dirt. At home, we go grocery shopping and the bags go straight into the trash! I just wish I could do everything for these children, and I feel like I’m doing nothing and it’s killing me. I know this is all my perfectionism coming out, so today was definitely a huge challenge for “Ms. Perfectionism” and I realize how much my perfectionism takes over my emotions.
After we ate lunch and shared our thoughts from the day, we walked over the Malemia school to get our first drumming lesson! As we walked up the hill, we heard the other students playing the drums, and I got chills all over my body. It brought me immediately back to Alldredge and just added to the rush of emotions I’ve been feeling today. I was extremely anxious the whole time we were in the drumming circle learing the lessons, because I just wanted to get up and teach them the songs I know! It felt so good to drum again and while looking at everyone learning, I remembered so clearly the first time we started drumming at Alldredge and how confused we were. Finally, at the end, the instructor looked at me and goes “You’ve played before? Haven’t you? Do you have a tune?” And then I got to teach “Kambusansan” to everyone! I didn’t teach them the chant, or the duet part, just the basic rhthym but it was amazing hearing the song being played again. I wish we could drum every day here!
Now, we are back at the Lodge relaxing and showering and then we will work on tomorrows lesson plan. Dr. Kelly said we are only supposed to be teaching one lesson a day, so it’s okay that we didn’t teach our class the entire time today. She said whether our lesson takes an hour or the whole 3 hours, that is fine! That made me feel a little better, but I’m still upset as to how everything played out today. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll feel better about everything, and just keep reminding myself that these children are all so thankful of everything we are doing for them, whether things go as planned or not. Talk later, peace, love, Malawi.