Monday, June 19:
Today’s experience is what this trip is meant to be about. We woke up at the normal time, ate the standard breakfast, and took the usual ride to the schools. Tech arrived at our school at 9:15 am and went into our classrooms. Inida, Katie and I’s teacher, wasn’t there so Katie and I had the 80 plus students completely on our own. I actually preferred that, because we really felt incharge! Minute by minute, the children’s excitement grew as we pulled out packs of crayons and colored paper.
We spent the first thirty minutes introducing ourselves, writing our names on the board, and showing them a map of where Africa is in relation to the United States. Then, we had them pass around the picture book that I made and they absolutely loved it! It was interesting because they knew the words “family”, “dog” and “football”, but they didn’t know the word “brother”, “sister” or “ocean”. After that, we pulled out signs that read “CHAIR”, “CHALK BOARD”, “DESK”, “WALL”, “DOOR”, and “WINDOW”. We would ask them to raise their hands to read the words and them place the signs in the correct spot. Then we quickly reviewed ABC’s, and things that start with those letters, and then we hung up alphabet and number posters around the room. This all took about an hour, and then we introduced the exciting stuff!
We traced our hands on the board and wrote our names on them and went over the questions we wanted them to answer on each of their fingers. Then, we pulled out all the construction paper, crayons and markers and the students literally went crazy. I have never seen a group of more excited or happy kids. We passed out a piece of paper and a crayon or marker to everyone and they wouldn’t stop saying “zikomo” with the biggest smiles on their faces. They all started the project, and from their answers we quickly realized the difference in learning levels of the children. Their ages range from 10 to 14, and a lot of them didn’t understand what “food” meant. Afterwards, we tried putting stickers on each of their completed projects, but we literally got trampled when we pulled the stickers out, it was ridiculous! We told them 1 sticker each, so they would cover the sticker on their paper with their finger and come back asking for another sticker. It was so hectic we didn’t really notice, and some kids had five smiley face stickers on their project. Oops! Then we had them help us hang them up all over the room, and by the end of the day the walls were bright colors of reds, greens, blues, yellows and pinks rather than the bare white walls previously.
After the projects were all done, we took them outside for their “break” where we gave them the nerf football and the jumprope, which they absolutely loved! Unfortunately, one jumprope and one football isn’t nearly enough for 80 students, and sharing is a concept they don’t really understand when it comes to items that they usually don’t have access to. I also brought disposopal cameras and tried letting them take 1 picture each, but hands were flying everywhere and people were grabbing from eachother so that failed rather quickly! After break, we went back to the classroom for the last thirty minutes or so and had them sing and dance and also called students up to write their names on the board. I am determined to memorize as many names as possible, which might be impossible with 80 names that I can hardly pronounce. By the time we had to leave, I can confidently say we were completely exhausted. The children all followed us out giving us hugs and saying thank you and making us promise we would be back tomorrow. It broke my heart, and I kept saying “No, thank YOU!”, because I am so grateful for them allowing themselves to open up to me.
I got so close already today to a few of them, namely Ellsy, Airfu and Yakobe. It’s funny how similar they are to American children, though! Katie and I immediately realized who the trouble makers and class clowns were, as well as the suck-ups! Some, Raphael, Edward, Ulim and Chisisi are the class clowns, but absolutely hysterical and truly sweet little boys.
After we were done teaching, we walked to the college building next door where we ate our lunches and discussed the first idea/ threw out ideas for eachother. After we all talked, we were just hanging out when Airfu and Yakobe walked by the door and came in and waved. I told them to come in, and they hung out with us for a good twenty minutes before they had to walk home. Allison and I let them use our cameras so they took like 50 pictures of me and Allison! They thought it was so cool, and it was nice to let them use the camera without being bombarded by everyone else. In the school setting, there’s no way I would have let someone hold my camera or it’d be stompled on in a second. They loved taking pictures, and they actually learned pretty quickly how to use it! I showed them how to zoom in and out and how to videotape. Soon, it was time for us to leave to pick up the other college students, and Airfu and Yakobe walked out holding my hands and saying they couldn’t wait for tomorrow. Today was truly so special.
When we left the school we went downtown to get some waters and school supplies, and everyone was really dragging. The children really took it out of us, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! Katie and I made our own dinner tonight with the water warmer, and it actually worked well for our oatmeal and easy Mac! Although, we were still starving after the one little packet serving so we snacked on my trail mix while we made the lesson plan for tomorrow.
Tomorrow we will be handing out their bags, which we stuffed with pens and stickers, and we made them notebooks with loose-leaf paper and construction paper. They are going to totally flip out over the bags tomorrow and Katie and me are so excited to see their reaction! Dr. Kelly printed out some children’s stories for us, so we will read the story outloud to them and then write a sentence on the board. They will then have to repeat the sentence and write it in their books which we will pass out in the beginning. This will take awhile because there are about 15 sentences in the short little story called “The Wolf and the Lamb”, which we changed to “The Wolf and the Chicken” because we didn’t know if they would know what a lamb was haha! After that lesson, before the end of the day, we will hand out their bags and tell them to put their notebooks in them and to bring their bags to class everyday so they don’t lose things. I know they’re going to be so caught up in the excitement but I hope they take care of them and don’t lose them. Anyways, cannot wait for tomorrow. Peace, love, Malawi.