Reaching Out 2 The World

Laughter Is The Same In Every Language


Today was a wow day. All in all it was a really good day and I learned a lot. Pretty sure I’ll be learning a lot more in these next three months than any of my learners will be. So for whatever reason going to sleep at 8pm the night before still wasn’t enough sleep for me and I snoozed until 7:30am. I rushed my morning routine and made my way to Mama Zulu’s house and when I went to make my sandwich I noticed we were out of meat. The sandwich was the only thing I was having for lunch to begin with haha. I made a cheese sandwich and luckily I picked up a bag of chips when I went shopping yesterday. I would have bought a case of soda cans but they only sell them individually L. On the walk to school today I passed many more sad doggies. Why do dogs have the ability to seem so helpless and sad? I’m not saying these dogs aren’t helpless and sad, but in general… it’s that puppy dog face and it gets me every time! I missed prayer time this morning, which isn’t a big deal but I wanted to video tape it… I’m sure I’ll do it eventually. The English lesson today was on, how to write an essay. The topic was to just tell what you know about the “greenies, and destroyers”. As the teacher was discussing a reading they had done earlier it became pretty clear what was going on. Destroyers waste electricity, use their phones too much, drive everywhere and pollute the air, and spend money on things they don’t need. AKA an American. Obviously this happens everywhere, and even in the township you’ll find “destroyers” but everyone knows Americans are the real bad guys. Greenies are basically the opposite… which of course you’ll also find in America, cause we are a mix of everything :). That was wow moment number one. Number two came minutes later when the teacher left me in charge of the class for the next couple hours. When you have 40 kids in a class you’ll always be able to find a couple overachievers. I kept those students close and we made it through the period. It was difficult because the instructions the teacher had given them were pretty strict and she was making them cross out and rewrite all their mistakes. I’m too nice to do that though so I would just tell them to fix in from then on. Of course none of that matters anyways because I’m pretty sure 3/4 of the kids I talked with didn’t follow anything I was saying. To make matters more difficult, today was a special day for the kids. They have mock weddings once a year for each class in grade 6 (there are 5 classes in grade 6 btw). This is a huge deal for the kids and they all brought in their dress-up clothes. I mean dresses, high heels, lipstick, white out (nail polish), and the boys brought in suits if they had them, or church clothes. So during my class the girls were all comparing dresses and shoes, instead of working on the essay. Go figure, right? I did hand out some pencils to that class and they were very thankful. At the end of the class period they began giving them back to me. They didn’t realize they were theirs to keep! I did attend the wedding, but before that I had another class. I’m not sure what this class was because we didn’t really do anything productive. Some of the kids worked on their essays while others just drew pictures, or talked. We handed back a math test that they had taken yesterday. This math test was equivalent to the PSSAs and is taken all over South Africa. The teacher had the idea to pass out pens or pencils to the students that performed the best. The test was out of 60 points and in my class of 40, two learners score over 40 points and four learners scored over 30 points. But when those six came up to collect their prizes every single child in the class clapped for them. 🙂 Wow moment 3. I stayed with this class for a bit while the other class prepared for their wedding. This was big stuff, an invite only, so every learner outside of that class was trying everything they could to peer in the windows. I took the time to talk to a few of the guys and they seemed pretty excited about teaching me Xhosa. Like, really excited… to the point where I learned nothing because of how fast they wanted me to learn. It probably didn’t help with how loud and chaotic things were. I did learn a few more names though… some may just be Dragon Ball Z characters though. A little girl came to fetch me to bring me to the wedding. That’s what I love about this school, and really you’ll find this with any school… children love to fetch things for teachers. At home this is a chore, but at school it’s like the greatest responsibility ever! I took so many pictures and videos of the wedding and I probably interfered a bit too much but it was just so good. They had the bride and the groom, the pastor, the bride and grooms parents, a choir, and a bunch of other roles that I didn’t quite understand. As you can imagine there was a ton of singing and it was fantastic. They all danced too which was amazingly entertaining. So I’m all up in their business taking pictures (there was another teacher taking pictures too so I’m pretty sure it was ok for me) when they got to the part of the ceremony where the bride and groom kiss. WOW moment number 4. Not only did the two 11 year olds full on make out but the teacher had them do it again because she missed it on camera the first time! I was so shocked haha. I was thinking back in high school when we had mock weddings for our language classes and this is definitely something 17 and 18 year olds wouldn’t be able to handle back in the states. The wedding and ‘reception’ ended around 2pm but it wasn’t time to go home yet. Wow moment number 5 was still to happen. A week ago Lindokuhle Pangeni, a nine year old boy from the school, passed away (I asked what he passed away from and they just told me he was sick). Today was the memorial for him. The memorial lasted about an hour and a half and was completely in Xhosa so it was very hard for me to follow along. Even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying it was still very moving. The rest of grade 4 was all in attendance and they sang a few songs for him. There were a few solos where the singer struggled to make it through the verse and I think hearing the sadness in their voices was more than enough for me to understand what they were saying. The songs were all really beautiful and man did they go on for a while. I wish I could have understood what the speakers were saying because it seemed really passionate. Towards the end of the memorial it seemed it was geared to celebrating his life as the music became much livelier. As I said before I only get internet for an hour maybe every other day during the week but I’ll post the obituary if anyone is interested in translating it. I also didn’t take any pictures or videos during the memorial because I felt that may be inappropriate.

U – Lindokuhle Pangeni wazalwa ngo 03 January 2002. Uzalwa ngutata uZolile nomama uNosakhumzi Pangeni eMgomanzi eGcuwa. Ungumntwana wesibinikwabathathu kokwabo, uNolubabalo no-Anele abashiya ngasemva. Uqale ukufuna eGcuwa kwilali yaseMgomanzi waza apha e-Ikaya kulonyaka silkuwo 2011 kuGrade 4. Usweleke ngolwesihlanu emhla we – 9 kuSeptember 2011. Ugule ngengulo emfutshane.

I can follow some of that but I don’t know all of it (my spell check thinks I’m crazy right now). So not to take away from this little boy but because I couldn’t understand what was being said I spent some time reading the posters in the room. The first poster I read had a picture of a boy and girl holding hands and there was a speech bubble coming out of one of their mouths. It read, “We are still in school so no sex… for now.” There were a lot other interesting posters but that one caught my eye. The classroom rules also stood out to me. I don’t remember them all but I’ll list a few that stuck out to me. 1) Always wear your uniform 2) Respect 3) Absolutely no noise! 4,5,6) were something along the lines of keeping tidy and doing your work 7) stealing is a sin 8) Fighting is good, but not in school. Thought that one was interesting haha. I had to rush home after the memorial was over because I got a text from Hendri that Frisbee practice was at 17:00. On the way home from school I had some more followers. I don’t think that will ever get old :). I took a minibus taxi into Stellenbosch and made my way to the café. After I looked up how to get to the stadium where they were playing frisbee I had some time to update the blog and check out some emails. I didn’t have time then but I can sort of respond now to the previous comments. Thanks for commenting btw! I posted my address if anyone would like to send anything but don’t feel obligated (I’m completely aware that there are people struggling much closer to home that could also use the help). I appreciate all the kind words and advice though! Hi Shelby! Tell Kolten I said hi and that I’m trying to find the best postcard for him!! If I haven’t already I’ll try my best to get back to everyone else that has messaged me, keep’em comin. I packed up my stuff and headed for Frisbee around 5, and got there around 5:30. Much longer walk then I anticipated but I also made a few wrong turns. I think I was the 14th player so we played 7 vs 7 the whole time. Talk about rehab. Today was the first time I ran for real in a very long time and it was pretty much nonstop. I didn’t push it too much though and only skied 13 of them 😉 I actually kept myself from sprinting just because I didn’t want to damage anything. Amanda, you were right again! Exercise really does make everything better. We played till we couldn’t see any longer and Hendri gave me a ride home, I’ll tell you a bit about the team in a future blog, cause this one is already lengthy. Thank god we stopped at a convenient store on the way home cause I had only ate a cheese sandwich up to that point and I wasn’t confident tomorrow’s lunch was going to be much better. I stocked up on food and got DR. PEPPER!!!!!! =) first place I’ve seen that carries Dr. Pepper!! It tastes like home. I bought a lot of stuff and then we headed home. I think Hendri was surprised where I was living haha. I should have probably texted him to make sure he made it out alright. I was feeling so great I decided I was going to shave my beard off, with the electric clippers I purchased Tuesday. Problem is there is no outlet in the bathroom, and there is only one in my bedroom with the mirror being on the other side of the room. You’ll want to picture this next scene. I plugged in the clippers and stretched the cord halfway across the room just far enough so I could see my face in the mirror. I then grabbed a trash bin and held it under my chin with one hand while I shaved with the other. Half way through I set everything down to check out my progress in the mirror… pretty good so far just the usual few stragglers. So I’m finishing up and doing a great job catching everything in the trash bin when I drop the trash bin on the floor and hair goes everywhere! Sucked so bad. I kept my ingenuity going though and washed some of my clothes while I was in the shower. Not sure if that’s normal or not but it seems crazy I haven’t done this before. I think my fellow Kayamandian people would be proud. After that ordeal I talked on the phone with my dad. Turns out if someone calls me it doesn’t cost me anything 🙂 :). However; it will definitely cost you. I think my dad paid 3 dollars initially and then its 53 cents a minute after that. I don’t get why it has to be so expensive. I also learned the names of the other random people that sometimes stay at the house. Today was a learning experience and a great one at that. I hope you guys are able to learn a bit as well. Let me know if there is anything specific you’d like me to mention or look into. We’ll be in touch.


7 thoughts on “Laughter Is The Same In Every Language

  1. I just tried to use a free translator online. The only two things that worked =

    Uzalwa is the father

    Uqale wants you, it in/to Gcuwa in the village

    Maybe someone else will have better luck.

  2. I loved this last post. Got a little teary eyed reading it at my desk. Two things I was wondering;

    1) Why do they host mock weddings at the school?

    2) What was the skill of the other frisbee players?

    • I think they host the mock weddings as a creative project to learn more about their own culture. It was also the first time I saw the kids pull together to create something. The other frisbee players were pretty good. Maybe 4 or 5 that were great. It was a good time though!

  3. It was super long but it was a great read (although I’m sure Deb has some things to say about not breaking it into more manageable paragraphs). It’s cool to hear about all of the different customs and day-to-day activities that are common place to them but are so unique from our perspective. Keep up the great work and I can’t wait to hear more!

  4. Feel free to edit it for me haha

  5. So it sounds like you got a posse following you places. Pretty sweet right. I still can’t believe they actually had them kiss, and whats with the no sex in school, shouldn’t it b no sex at all. These six graders are a little forward, but it makes for an entertaining read, haha. thats messed up don’t read that. Love you man

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