Monday, March 19, 2012

more school days

These last few weeks have been busy with more school visits. I never know what to expect in going into a school; will the school have few resources, none or lots?  Will I actually find it (yep, gotten lost a few times- easy for my directional challenged self especially when directions include "the school down the dirt road past where they tie up goats, next to the mango tree and guy who sells cell phones")? Will they want me to mostly observe or teach for the entire day (happened a few times)? How can we be a blessing while never suggesting my ways are always better? How can I truly listen and encourage their hearts as they teach?

In my opinion teachers everywhere are almost always overworked, underpaid, under appreciated, and expected to perform miracles.  I know because I was there and if you disagree I dare you to try it for a year (this goes back to my idea that Jason thinks would totally work...my own version of The Apprentice/Survivor but under funded school version....throw everyone in an overcrowded, underfunded classroom , no need to say "you're fired" because most folks would quit and see who survives...now, I would soooo watch that).

The teachers that we have built relationships with are working hard and want to grow in their skills and it is a blessing to me to get to help them realize more of their goals for their classrooms.  And the best way to do that is to go to them, on their turf, meeting their students, congratulating them on their progress, seeing their perspective, and listening to their ideas.  It has been time well spent for sure.
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At this nursery school the first thing I noticed was that there was an office full of stuff but nothing in the classrooms.  The teachers explained they cannot hang anything on the walls or leave anything in the classrooms because the doors do not lock and people sneak in at night and rip or steal everything they put up. Seriously, they do not have functional doors.  I listened to the teachers and we discussed ways they wanted to improve their school and before leaving I asked if I could pray for them and ask God to bless this school and their response was "Yes!"  These four women are really trying with the limited support and resources available.  They cook for the children, clean the school, teach, and get paid less per month than most folks I know spend on a dinner out.  We are planning a community meeting to gather support from the neighborhood and trying to raise funds for 4 new doors and proper locks. Two of them are my former English students and I love them dearly. Evy and I taught some songs on our first visit and later we heard them singing loudly showing off their new skills.
zbar beach resort, evy telling kuku story 017
Evy was invited to stay and entertained the idea until all 40 kids rushed at her at once to give her a hug. Maybe next time....

Last week Evy and I headed out to Anni's school to check in on the teachers, sing a few songs, and  join in on game time. Of course we were invited to stay for snack time and we never turn down free food....
evy in big shoes, russ center school visit, lazuli shop 065.jpgedit
evy in big shoes, russ center school visit, lazuli shop 074.jpgedit
After snack time all the kids brush their teeth.  Seems like a brilliant idea if you ask me since "snack time" is mostly spent guzzling sugary tea and eating greasy fries and chapati.

The next day we went to a nursery school in town.
evy in big shoes, russ center school visit, lazuli shop 093.jpgedit
The teachers there have been amazingly resourceful in decorating every classroom. And ducks and chickens DO live with you here so they are perfect examples of "domestic" animals in case you were wondering....
evy in big shoes, russ center school visit, lazuli shop 097.jpgedit
These pictures make me smile.  I love that they look like the people here...great artwork by the teachers....well done!
evy in big shoes, russ center school visit, lazuli shop 103.jpgedit
teachers leading the watoto in some songs they learned at the Teacher Seminar and we got to learn some great new Kiswahili ones!
evy in big shoes, russ center school visit, lazuli shop 086.jpgedit
Gift giving culture means lots of treats every time we visit. Evy was given the following in one morning: pototoe balls, chips, 6 peices of candy (once out of another child's mouth), cookies, boiled cassava, and a bottle of soda.  I did manage to turn down the soda on her behalf but she was too quick in acceptiong and devouring her other zawadi.  Girl likes visiting schools. Me too.
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