I can't believe is aready Wednesday night!! This has been such a busy week but such an amazing week as well! On Monday, I was able to observe in a classroom of about 35 kids that were in grades 1, 2, and 3. It was a bit overwhelming as I saw so many different ways that I wanted to help. I knew that I needed to pick the most important thing but had so many things that I didn't know what that was going to be at the time. As I was observing, we were asked to write down the good things that we saw happening and to write down ways that they could do it differently. The teacher that I am working with is named Dorothy and she is so good with the kids. We talked about the things that I saw and she said, "I don't need you to tell me anything that I did good, just tell me what I need to change. I am serious, because I just want to learn from you." They are so eager to learn new ways to do things and to make a difference in the school and children. When I left on Monday I was completely overwhelmed, because I didn't know how to manage three grade levels and a class of so many. When we got back to the house that evening, we started looking through the donations that had been given for materials to use in their classoom. When we were looking through the supplies, I found the number posters that I had taken down from my own classroom and was able to put them up in her room. That was fun to be able to do that and have a piece of what I had been using in the states in this classroom.On Tuesday, I started teaching by doing some of the morning routines that I use in my own classroom. Some of those include music and songs that I use everyday. I was able to get a cd player to take with me and the kids were so excited to be able to hear the music and sing with it! I loved seeing their faces light up when the music came on. I quickly learned that most of the kids (except for a couple) don't know their letters and sounds so the most important task at hand is learning to read. Another overwhelming feeling came over me as I knew that I would only be here for such a short time. Also, when Dorothy was telling me what she wanted help with, it was to show her how to teach them to read and to teach them how to write...sure I can do that in two weeks, NOT! I just have to keep reminding myself that it is baby steps. I taught most of the lessons and Dorothy taught one. During the break time, she pulled out the paper that I had written suggestions on and she said, " I want you to tell me what I have not addressed" In one days time, she took everything to heart and was really changing what she was doing. As I read over the list, she changed everything that I had mentioned. I was so encouraged by her enthusiasm and dedication to her job! That afternoon, I gave the kids a notecard and asked them to write their name in pencil and then I would check it and they could then trace over it with a marker. When I pulled out the markers and showed them how to use them their eyes lit up like a runway! They were so excited and couldn't wait to use it. They all worked so hard on their name so they could get it to write with. As the kids leave each day, they line up at the door to leave the room. I told them that I wanted to give them a hug on their way out. I hugged them and told them that I loved them. As they left the room, the teacher said that she could hear them saying in nyanja, "teacher Allison loves me." It is so amazing to think that some of those kids don't hear that and how much they need to know that someone loves them! We did have a fun suprise today. Right before lunch, all of the teachers left us in our rooms. It was very strange and they were gone for a while. In a few minutes Dorothy came and asked us if we could go outside for a minute. While we were looking at her funny,we said yes and she closed the door of the school behind us so we couldn't see in. After about 5 minutes, she came and got us. We walked into her room and all the teachers had set up lunch for us. It looked so nice. They had a table cloth across some of the desks and they had fixed chicken, relish (spinach and something else that is soupy), and nshima which is their staple food. They said that if you are welcoming someone into Zambia, then you will kill a chicken and fix them a meal. It was so nice of them. Later that day, new desks were delivered to the school and Dorothy told Kathryn ( who is the American that is over the teachers) "today is a day of miracles, first God provided the money to come together so we could fix you a meal and then we have just recieved new desks" It was so humbling that they scraped together enough money to cook for us when they could have saved that for their family. I never have to think about where my next meal is coming from or if I have enough money to eat. This is something that I take for grantid and being here is just a reminder of all that I have to be grateful for.Today, when I woke up, I felt a little more settled in, in how the day was going to go. We found out last night that there would be a camera crew (they have been at camp all week) filming today so that they could use the video in promoting their school campaign to raise funds for new schools they need to open. When they got there, they came in my room and the kids were doing so good to not be too distracted by them. We were working on putting sounds togther and I was so excited to see how well they were doing compared to yesterday. They were really soaking in what I had been teaching them and they were retaining it! The kids attempted to write a sentence today and that was fun to watch them write and see who was able to figure out some of the sounds. After the break, Dorothy (who is also the head teacher, which just means she has to takecare of any problems that arise) had to go out and deal with some problems. I was with the kids for about 30 minutes by myself which wouldn't normally be a big deal, but when you have a language barrier, that becomes a long time. I was trying to read them a book and it was so hard to convey the meaning to them with the limited English that they spoke. they were getting wrestless, so I decided to switch over to math. I was trying to teach them to skip count by 10s and then I thought I could take them out and play the circle game so they could pracitce it some more. This became a quick disaster as some of the kids were pushing and fighting and the language barrrier was becoming more of an issue than ever. We went back into the classroom, because this was obviously not working. The kids continued fighting and nothing that I was doing was working, so I finally picked up my backpack and said that I was going to leave. I walked out the door as some of the kids kept saying, sorry madame, sorry, sorry, sorry. As I turned the corner out of the door, you could have heard a pin drop. I think they were so shocked. I waited outside the door for about a minute and then Dorothy and Kathryn were coming around the corner. Dorothy went in and asked, "where is teacher Allison, what has happened to her" It was silent for a few minutes and then they all started ratting each other out. They said that they would just apologize and that they wouldn't "dood" that again. She said that she would come and look for me and see if I would come back. They were very apologetic and I think that they realize that they still have to be respectful even if she is not there.When we left today, they were working on a road that we have to take to get out of the compound. We got to the corner and there was a HUGE hole (deep enough that if the tire fell in we would be stuck there) and beside it was a huge pile of rocks/gravel that was piled up. Our only way to get out was to stradle the hole between the tires. One of the kids had followed us up the road to this point to make sure that we could get out. He was trying to tell Kathryn which way to turn her tires and it was getting very confusing. I got out to look and it was crazy!! There was no way that she could make it from that angle. The other problem was that we weren't really coming out of a "road" and we were between two buildings. So, Kathryn is trying to back up and get turned out onto the road to where we can go on it straight and miss the hole. Here is where the next problem came into play.....in the backing up and going forward and backing up and going forward, her wheel got stuck on a tire and we had to get some of the kids and the three teachers had to push the car so she could get unstuck. I am sure that we were quite a sight. She finally got the car where she could be straight on the road, and we had to be in the front of the car to help guide her over the hole. She got it straight and there was no extra room for mistakes. She had to perfectly stradle the hole and stay straight. We were all praying so hard, and God was good and we finally were able to get out. I will post pictures as soon as I can, because it was quite funny!
Thank you again for all of your prayers and hopefully I will be able to update more tomorrow, that is if the computer will be working.