Reaching Out 2 The World

First Day of School


Woke up and had a nice shower this morning. Pretty sure my housemate left at like 5am. You know the scene in the original 101 Dolimations when one dog started barking into the night (pongo?) and then before you know it all the dogs were barking into the night. Well, that’s what I fell asleep to. I’m not complaining though because I actually prefer some noise when falling asleep. I went over to Mama Zulu’s house for breakfast and she showed me where the cereal and everything was. She asked me if I’d like to microwave my milk. I resisted though. I made a sandwich for lunch and she made me feel uneasy about not putting butter on my ham and cheese sandwich… so I buttered it up.  I snuck an orange into my bag too because I need more than one sandwich for lunch. Vuyo walked me to school and it wasn’t the easiest walk. He lied and told me that the students would walk me home. I went to a few classrooms today. The average class size is close to 40 “learners” (they don’t call them students) and there are maybe 25 chairs in a class. Of that 25 chairs maybe 15 of them aren’t completely broken. Most chairs just have two legs, and some have just legs… I was told the school has 1,800 learners in it, and there are about 40 teachers. Imagine being dropped into a classroom surrounded by 40 kids ages 9-12 who only speak Xhosa. It’s a very “lost” feeling. In one class I graded some English papers and was surprised to see that some students could at least write… or copy English down pretty well. I think I’ve just about lost all confidence in my teaching ability. There are a lot of people that have been talking to me and I don’t understand one word of it. During one of our breaks I ate my sandwich because I learned that they don’t have lunch… you just eat when you can. And after the whole day I’m pretty sure the learners don’t even eat a lunch. I didn’t have a drink with lunch but luckily I had that orange that I swiped. After break I was placed in yet another classroom. I’m completely ok with being placed with 9-12 year olds but I feel some of the gifts I brought are a bit too young for them. I also have no idea which classroom will be mine so I don’t even know who to give presents to. I did ask about internet inside the school but it seems that could be difficult. I guess they do have internet in one of the offices I may be able to do if any teachers back home want to work out a Skype lesson. (sorry this is rushed and scattered but I had to travel to Stellenbosch to get internet in a café and I don’t think it’s unlimited. I also have to make sure I catch a taxi back to Kayamandi before 6pm or else I’ll have a very sketchy walk back home.) So, back to the scattered day… The students are very noisy and disruptive throughout the day. It’s normal for a teacher to pinch or hit a student, but I don’t see myself doing that. They pinch in the back of the arm, which I know from experience hurts sooo bad. I looked through a children’s magazine one class (my guess is that it would be equivalent to the USA’s Time 4 Kids), and the first article I read was about a teen dad with Aids. The article was how he and his girlfriend should have used a condom. Pretty strange to see in a kids magazine but I suppose it’s necessary. The day ended at 2pm but I stayed till 3. I talked to a couple students but it was a bit difficult. They asked if I knew Chris Brown or Michael Jackson. I did take some pictures of the last class I was with and boy did they love the camera. I also found out why most of them use pens rather than pencils. For one, there is no pencil sharpener so most of them carry scissors around with them to manually sharpen their pencils. Reason number two was because at the end of the day every student got an orange. They would take the ink out of the pens and then stab the body of the pen into the orange and use it as a straw. Fairly certain this teaching stuff is going to be impossible. I don’t understand more than 2% of what they say. Not trying to sound racist… but it’s a bunch of clicks and clucks that I can’t even make. I also have no idea how I got home today. Quite honestly, it was sheer luck. No students walked me home… I just walked and walked and got lucky. I gotta run now and I hoping I can make it home successfully. I’ll try and be back later this week. Remember, there is a 6 hour time difference between PA and here. So if you want to FB chat or something make sure you are on around 11am (pa time) and I may be able to catch ya. Miss you guys and hope to hear from all of you!


6 thoughts on “First Day of School

  1. Sounds like the real adventure has begun! Did they give you any guidance in terms of what they expect you to teach or what your day will be like on a regular basis? Is there going to be any more structure or does it seem like every day will be just as hectic?

  2. Sounds very stressful but just remember…the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time!

  3. No doubt by the next time you’re back on here you’ll be sharing all about how much you’ve learned and how amazing your learners are! You are an amazing teacher and have no reason to doubt your skills…learn with the kiddos and you’ll get the hang of it in no time. 🙂 And I’m all for skyping…or we could set up something between you and your students from last year. Just name it and you got it!

  4. Xhosa phrases spoken and explained on this web site

    Xhosa lessons on YouTube

    Good Luck

  5. You can do it Sully! It is gonna be stressful and scary in the beginning, but just think, when you get back you will have experience and confidence teaching in touch situations. I know if anyone can be determined and creative enough to conquer this classroom environment, it’s you. Do you want me to send a package full of pencil sharpeners and pencils?

  6. 40 kids and 15 usable chairs….I was complaining today because one of my classes accidentally had 39 kids scheduled (they are working on it). Maybe you can convince some of the teachers to unionize (just kidding–they would run you out of the country!) Don’t worry about the teaching—kids are sponges and they will adapt to you much better that you will adapt to them. I am really enjoying your blog and pictures so keep it up! Let me know if you need anything (and if you do, I need your address!) Love, Shelby

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s