July 23, 2012

i went to africa

It's been a while since I posted. I've had a lot of words, but none came together cohesively when I sat down to write. A lot has happened! I turned 22 on May 4. I graduated from Harding University. I left for Rwanda on May 11. I came back from Rwanda on June 3. I started grad school on June 11. Life has been busy! I wanted to share some pictures from my incredible trip. We spent 3 weeks in Rwanda teaching English to 3rd graders in a school with no resources. Most of the teachers didn't speak English at all, but they are required to teach their students English. It was an incredible blessing to all of us to be able to work with those students for three weeks! We taught close to 200 students a day (4 classes of around 50 students). 

 Some of our vocabulary words were numbers. I was teaching the number 5.
 The number 1 rule for teaching in an African classroom is to be as silly as possible. We taught the words "sing" and "dance", so we would have one student come up and sing into the "microphone" (broom) and another dance. They were hesitant to volunteer, so we demonstrated :)
 My sweet Sunday sat at the back of the room and sometimes thought the directions didn't apply to him. Teacha Katie was always happy to remind him that they, in fact, did!
 Singing our favorite song! "I LOVE MY SCHOOL!"
 Recess was always a fun experience. They LOVE having their picture taken!
 This is my sweet Nick. After our last day, we stayed in Rwanda for a few more days. He was one of the students that climbed the brick wall surrounding the convent where we stayed to call for us. We would be playing cards and would hear them calling our names. So precious.
 We saw so many rainbows in Rwanda. It was incredible.
 This is our school! I was standing by the P3 (third grade) classes and looking across the courtyard at the P4 classrooms.
 Recess was mayhem. Every time.
 Beth, Teacher Domatia, me, Teacher Felicity, and Maria. Bethany and I taught all of the classes together and Maria was with us for half of our classes. These are the teachers that we were blessed to work with!
Bethany and I by the sign for the school after my last day. Bethy stayed for another 6 weeks after we left!

I have to tell a really sweet story about Teacher Felicity. The way that the school system works in Rwanda is that the teachers come early and write out all of the days lessons on the blackboards at the front and back of the classroom. The students spend their school day copying the work off of the boards. The teachers often leave the room for meetings or just to visit with other teachers. We were told that the teachers were supposed to stay in the room while we taught, but Teacher Felicity would often leave. When she was in the room, she just sat in the back and graded. We didn't think she was very happy to have us there. We always talked about how we didn't think she liked us because she never interacted with us the way Teacher Domatia did. 

One day, we had asked the students to volunteer to sing. We called on different students to sing and most of them sang "Baby" by Justin Beiber (embarrassing, I know). And then Teacher Felicity raised her hand. We were so excited! We called on her, and that precious woman sang "read your Bible and pray every day". We both teared up. It was incredible. She is such an amazing woman! We got to know her better throughout the rest of our time at the school. We also realized that when we thought she was grading, she was actually taking notes on what we were saying and doing in her notebook. She would ask us to write down the words to the songs that we taught so that she could remember. The first time that happened, we all cried. To see a woman who loves her students so much and is doing the best she can with what she has (nothing) was so moving. She so desires to help her students learn English, but it's impossible if you don't know the language. We were so blessed by both of our teachers and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to work with them for three weeks!

Overall, the trip was absolutely incredible. I'm already looking forward to returning next summer and loving on those little ones again!