Reaching Out 2 The World

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A Smooth Return to Kayamandi

After a full day’s worth of traveling we finally arrived back in South Africa. As soon as we touched IMG_6703down I could tell things were going to be great. We made it through customs in a breeze and were some of the firsts to recover our baggage. It was great to finally move through an airport at a less than frustrating pace.

Once we had everything we began heading towards the exit and saw in the distance two familiar faces. Mieke and Hanneke had come to fetch us at the airport and were holding two welcoming signs. Well, actually they were “Wanted” signs that attracted a lot of humorous attention, but we received them as big welcomes in the highest form of flattery! For mine they chose a picture from when I was dressed up in Morocco and set my reward for a whopping 8 Rand. They were pretty spot on with how I could be recognized and really did an outstanding job on the sign making. It was so nice of them to be there for us at our arrival and this was just the start of the day’s surprises!

IMG_6701With our pickup, they had also organized a ride back to Kayamandi, which is an awesome convenience that shouldn’t go unnoted. When we made it back they told us that they wanted to be there as we walked into our room. You can imagine our apprehension and anxiety at this point. We had been gone for nearly 3 weeks and our room had been periodically occupied?!? I had no idea what to expect but when we opened the door we were staring at what seemed like hundreds of sticky notes covering our walls. In the room we noticed that all the sticky notes had writing on them and there were personal messages written to both Dan and I. I think we spent the next half hour unpacking our bags and reading all of our notes. The girls had spent a couple weeks working with the kids from Kayamandi on the notes and the pictures that collaged our walls. Most of the notes weren’t signed by anyone but some were easy to identify. Ski’s drawings were easy to spot, Riri’s sayings and lingo were all pretty clear to me, and I could pick out a few I thought may have been written by Mawande. We found out that many of them had stuck with a consistent color for their notes so that also made it easier to identify. This was a total surprise to us and I absolutely loved it!

Before we could even finish reading all our notes the girls came back in to inform us that lunch was ready. What? They even had prepared a meal for us? We walked over to Mama Zulus and into the dining room and I saw on the table a few of my favorite things; coke, nutella, and crepes. Not only that, but there was an abundance of each and we totally pigged out. I think I ate almost half of the nutella jar that afternoon. When we were stuffed to capacity they went back into the kitchen and brought out the game changer. My absolute favorite desert ever…. chocolate mousse! It’s a game changer because no matter how full I previously was, I can always make room for chocolate mousse.

IMG_6700Not long after our delicious feast of a lunch did the kids start coming over. Our room quickly filled up with most of all the guys making their way over. A nice reunion to see them all again but we had a ton of people in a very small room. The girls and I decided to take all the boys to the park town the street and play some Frisbee and soccer with them. We played for a while, until we figured it would be time to head back for dinner. I love playing sports with these guys and it was the IMG_6699perfect addition to our big return. While we were playing I saw Mawande hanging out on the slide. When I went over he was admiring a small ladybug that had come to join us. Just another sign of how fantastic it was to be back in South Africa.

Another special treat about being back home in South Africa is Mama Zulus cooking. Chicken, french-fries, beans, and a salad were all waiting for us when we got back to her house. The Kayamandi kids waited back in our room while we indulged in our supreme meal. Before I head back home I plan on preparing a large meal that will have enough food to feed everyone that’s over. The kids never ask for food nor expect it, and Mama Zulu is already making enough, but it’ll be a nice treat to enjoy a meal with everyone.

IMG_6705More kids had come over by the time we had finished eating and were all hanging out in our room. They showed us which notes and pictures they had drawn and we told them a bit about our trip. Normally they’d all begin heading home around 8pm but they made it clear that they had no intentions of going home early on our first night back. Even once the other volunteers all got together around 9pm for a few card games the boys stuck around. I think it was closer to 9:30 when they finally had to go. It was nice seeing them after being away for 3 weeks and I’m dreading having to say my final goodbyes. When I came back to my room I saw that Ski had a new pair of shoes on. He was telling me that he wanted to trade with me for the day but I could risk loosing my vibrams haha.

After a few card games, Mieke, Hanneke, and I played a round of Catan. We changed up the rules a little bit to add some fun, and extended the game an extra 3 points. It was probably the perfect end to a perfect day back in Kayamandi and it’s all thanks to our friends from Holland. Mieke, and Hanneke, you guys rock and I hope you understand how much I appreciate all the kind things you do. Letting you beat me in Catan was just my way of saying thank you.


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Two Days, Three New Volunteers

On Friday I had one plan, to pick up my good friend Dan Sellers from the airport! Finally, after a three month tour of East Asia Dan had safely found his way to South Africa. Dan and I are working together to help Reaching Out 2 The World reach its full potential. We’ve been in contact while he’s been traveling but I hadn’t seen him since May and we still have a lot to discuss!

At half past 10 myself, Papa Zulu, and the girls from the Netherlands took the trip to fetch him at the airport. The night before we had prepared signs to welcome him back to Africa but we still had the challenge of finding him. Airports are huge, and when you arrive in a new continent with no cell service and no internet it can be tricky finding someone. I was thinking back two weeks ago when I arrived and was supposed to meet someone named Albert. I ended up having to wait a couple hours before the Zulus came to pick me up.

On a previous day I had talked to Dan about a meeting spot. A place I was familiar with in the airport because it had been where I had waiting for some time. So when we arrived that’s what we did. We didn’t wait too long before I spotted him heading up the escalator that would bring him right to us. With our signs ready, he looked right past us! Haha, he completely missed seeing us at first as we were standing right in front of him. I called his name and we were finally all together.

After getting back to Kayamandi Dan and I both were hungry and needed to head into Stellenbosch for some essentials. Mieke and Hanneke both joined us and we took the mini bus into town. It had been a year since Dan had last been in Kayamandi and as we traveled I could sense him taking it all in. He kept saying how surreal it felt to be back. Since he had also just come off of a 5 flight 2 day journey I think he was just happy to be on solid ground.IMG_3731

Like myself, Dan is a big fan of McDonalds. I’ve had snacks there but never a proper meal while I’ve been in SA. After hitting up the ATM our first stop was straight to the Mickey Ds. It may be terrible for you, but it is sooo good.

Our other errands included buying ice cream at the grocery store, adding airtime to our phones, and eating dessert at the Cinnabon, also located in the mall. Hanneke had never ate at a Cinnabon and that was more than enough reason to stop and indulge. Feeling very satisfied after our delicious meals, we went back to Kayamandi.IMG_3730

The kids knew that Dan would be arriving today but when we got back to Mama Zulu’s no one was there. I was a bit shocked but knew it was only a matter of time. Next, we decided to take a walk around the township.

What started as a walk with just Dan and myself slowly grew to an entourage of followers. At the first corner in our walk we were joined with the students I had worked with in the past week. We walked a loop almost around the entire township slowing adding to our entourage. Still, we were missing the students that Dan had known best. Again, I was surprised to not see them but knew it was coming.

Before walking back to Mama Zulu’s I showed Dan the BMX track and introduced him to Songo. His riders were busy creating paintings that would be auctioned off as a fundraiser. Some of the paintings would also but used to decorate the new building that had just been erected for Songo’s program. I’m really glad I got to meet Songo and look forward to working with him over the next few weeks. IMG_3760

When we got back to our flat Dan told me he had bought something for me while traveling through East Asia. I had no idea what to expect but quickly began unwrapping my gift. He asked me to be careful not to shake it too much while I was opening it, but it was really wrapped pretty well! Finally, after using a pair of scissors I broke through IMG_3758the multilayer wrap job to see a glass bottle with something inside. Inside was a poisonous snake, with a head like a cobra, and it was holding a black scorpion in its mouth. How cool is that?! The liquid surrounded the snack and scorpion, and holding it in place is a white wine, meaning you can drink this bottle of death! Obviously, this bottle will be staying sealed for some time but day, when the time is right, I may just pour myself a drink.

I also had a gift for Dan, although it was a little less outrageous. My gift to him was one of the South African bracelets I had been working on. These bracelets are no quick task to make so I you are a recipient of one you better cherish it, haha.

While this exchange was happening our entourage of followers had begun playing games on our ipads. That’s right, two ipads. Now that Dan was here the kids would have double the video game stimulation.

Mawande was the first to show up that Dan had been waiting for and not far behind him was Ski and Riri. Before long Chester and Aphiwe arrived last but not least was Atha. I knew it was just a matter of time. At this point we had the 6 kids that had followed us throughout the township and the 6 kids I just named, making our room very much at capacity. When Lelethu called us in for dinner I asked the first group of kids to make a move on. I’m alright with a few kids playing games while I’m at dinner but 12 was far too many, especially because I didn’t know some of them.IMG_3763

Among the list of donated items was a book. “The One and Only Ivan,” had been donated to our cause with the strict instructions to share it with as many people as I could. That night after dinner I decided would be the perfect opportunity to begin reading this book with our friends. With Dan back in SA and all our students together we joined back in our room and I explained about the book and the importance of the book. I told them we would be reading a few pages each night but I really wasn’t sure how well it would go over. A few of the students really struggle with English. As I began reading I made sure to practice everything I’ve learned over the years. We talked about each page, and I asked lots of questions along the way. After reading a few pages Riri asked if he could read. I thought it was a great idea and was thrilled in the interested levels that were peaking. Next Mawande wanted to read! At this point I decided that everyone should just read at least one page. After first some of the boys were shy but I was happily surprised to hear them read. Both Ski and Atha, who struggle the most with speaking English could read it quite nicely. It seemed as if some of them just didn’t like to speak English around their peers. I was extremely proud of them as we read through the first 20 pages of the book.

Next, I gave them homework. These guys all love to draw so I decided to give them a task in which they could put their drawings to work. Our book needs a bookmark and that’s exactly what their homework was.

IMG_0152After story time the boys went home and Dan and I got settled in. He still hadn’t unpacked and I had a lot of writing to do. While I was writing I looked over Dan had passed out. I think all his traveling had finally caught up to him.

The plan for Saturday was to participate in an ultimate Frisbee tournament hosted by the Stellenbosch team. Chris came to pick us up at 10 and Mawande, Ski and Dan joined me for a day full of ultimate.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect but had no idea that I’d end up playing 6 games! The tournament really took almost all day! I gave Mawande and Ski a couple Frisbee uniforms so they could practice with my team and Mawande even played a few points. After our third game I could tell they were starting to get bored and hungry. The tournament supplied snacks but not enough for a full lunch. IMG_3765

At one point I told the two boys that they could go off and explore the surrounding area. There were a lot of cool trails, and heavy flowing river. 15 minutes later I look across the fields and see Mawande and Ski half way up the side of a small mountain. I was a bit concerned because I know how challenging it can sometimes be to come down after hiking up an unmarked path, but Dan insisted they would be alright. Every time I looked over they were higher and higher. When I waved to them they waved back… at least I hoped they were waving back. I thought for a moment that they may also be waving for help, but again Dan insisted they were okay. Together they worked their way across the ridge towards the field I was playing on. From high up above they watched my game before beginning the decent back down to ground level. I was definitely glad when they made it down safely. IMG_0168

My team ended up getting second place overall for the tournament. I think we were the better team but we didn’t play a strong final game. All day my hamstrings limited me and I was never able to run at full speed. I tried my best to help but could only do so much.

Before the tournament was over Dan and the boys caught a ride back into town. They were both hungry and ready for something new. IMG_3767

I got home just 30 minutes after them and entered my room to a group of new faces. While I was off played two new volunteers from Germany arrived. Gisa and Clara would be joining Eric, Mieke, and Hanneke for a year in Kayamandi. That means there will be 5 volunteers living with the Zulu’s and working here in Kayamandi. Now I just need to get them all connected with the students!!

We hung out for some time before Lelethu called us in for dinner. This was by far the most people I’ve shared dinner with while here in Kayamandi. It was pretty great to go from having dinner’s by myself to being joined by 6 other people. IMG_3813

Mieke had prepared a dessert, and it was specifically for me because of a bet we had made. She didn’t think I would be able to beat her in Catan… Anyway, there were still a number of guys back in my room and I wanted to go check on them between dinner and dessert.

When I got back to my room they all wanted to read more of the book we had started the night before. There was no way I could miss out on this opportunity. These children were asking to read a story with me and I wasn’t about to deny them. Unfortunately, I missed out on my dessert but I think it was worth it being able to read with the guys. The reason I didn’t get dessert was because it was freshly baked cookie dough covered in ice cream. They informed me that the only way to eat it was when it first came out of the oven. Looks like I’ll have to wait another night before I can try it.

Reading tonight went even better than the night before. They each wanted to read 2 pages tonight rather than 1 and when I asked them questions about our readings they were all able to answer them accordingly. I’m so proud of them and so thrilled that they are enjoying the book.

Later in the evening Eric, Hanneke, Dan, and Clara played a game of Catan. Mieka, Giza, and I watched and took bets on who we thought would win. After a quick start Dan got out to an early lead but in the end Clara was victorious. Eric is still searching for his first victory but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before it comes. IMG_3810

Before going to bed we played a few new card games. I taught them the game President. In this game if you are president 3 times in a row then you get to make a rule. There aren’t really any limitations to the rule, but the rule is only good for the rest of that night. After winning more than enough times in a row I made a couple rules. My first was that every time someone played an 8 they had to follow it up with saying something nice about me. Eights are typically good numbers to play in this game so it was funny hearing what they had to say. IMG_3808My second rule game right before I left for the night. I’m not sure how it came to me but I’m glad it did. My rule was that before I left the girls had to brush each other’s teeth. I figured they are about to spend a year together so what better way to spend their first night. Hahah this of course proved to be hilarious!

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Teacher by Day. White Ninja by Night.

I woke up Wednesday feeling pretty tired after being out to late the night before. We intended to get home early but our driver couldn’t have been less punctual. I joined Papa Zulu for breakfast where we discussed picking up Dan on Friday. Finally, Dan will be joining me on our South African Adventure! After breakfast I made my way to the primary school.
When I arrived at the school there were no children playing outside so I decided to just walk in the direction of the classrooms I thought I’d be able to find Pam. Before I got there I was intercepted by another teacher. I’m sure I have met this teacher before but I couldn’t remember his name. He told me that there was a classroom down the walk that had no teacher.

Next thing I knew he was ushering me into the room. The 40 plus students looked to have been having a field day in their teacherless classroom and were quite shocked to see us walk in. He informed me that this class was to take a math test and wanted me to assist anyone and help proctor the test. Before he left he quickly went over each part of the test, occasionally looking over at me for approval. He spoke mostly in Xhosa but I was able to follow along. Math is it’s own language.  As he spoke the students would unanimously respond, “Yes teacher,” after everything he said. When he finished going over the text he bid me good day and left.
Upon leaving the students looked around and began talking. I knew I had to act fast before losing control of the class so I stood up and introduced myself. I told the class that I was there to help and if they needed me they should raise their hands. Those that don’t need my help should quietly work independently on their tests. They seemed to get the gist of it because they all quieted down and began working on their exams.

Slowly, but surely hands started going up, and it became very evident, as I walked IMG_3605around, that the majority of these students had no idea what they were doing. This test covered geometry and algebra both in their most basic forms, but it was still too much for these students. Had their teacher not expected to receive the tests at the end of the period I think it would have been easier to just reteach everything. Judging by the overall confusion and lack of math skills I’m not sure these learners had ever been taught it in the first place. Most of the questions were loaded questions which proposed a whole new level of difficulties because the students couldn’t solve the first step of the problem to even arrive at the second part. I moved fast throughout the classroom giving small lessons on how to find an average, how to read a graph, and about the different shapes they were being questioned about. There was only so much I could do, and time wasn’t on my side. It’s frustrating because it doesn’t seem like the teachers care how the students do on the tests. It’s appears they just give the tests to take up time so they don’t have to teach. When the bell finally rang most of the students abandoned the classroom, some turning in very unfinished exams. A few students stayed back as I was in the midst of teaching them how to find the percent of a number. I don’t think all of the students followed what I was saying but a few seemed to get it. I took a few pictures of the test to share with teacher friends back home. It wasn’t the worst test I’ve seen, it’s just that these students weren’t even close to prepared for it.

Before long students fled back into the classroom and they were followed by their teacher. He asked me if I wouldn’t mind helping grade a few English exams. I’m really not a fan of grading but I understand how overwhelming it can be for a teacher. I sat down with him and began going through the workbooks. The test covered reading comprehension and writing. The students had to answer a few questions on a short reading followed by a short writing exercise. This was a bit time consuming to grade because most of the students had much difficulty with the writing which meant loads of correcting. Out of 60 points I think the average score was in the low 20s. It was easy to tell the students who could understand English from the ones who couldn’t and it was clear that most of the students really struggled to read it. The performance task asked the students to write two paragraphs about, A day I will never forget. I read a couple stories about from students about the fire that swept through Kayamandi this past year. Their writing was basic but their point was clear. It was a terrifying event being woken up in tIMG_3600he middle of the night to the sounds of chaos. The fire was spreading quickly through the shacks and everyone had to run for their lives. Sadly, two children were killed in the fire. I couldn’t imagine having so little and then having it all taken away from me in the middle of the night. Because of where the fire was no firetrucks could come. I read from one student that her dad pleaded for an ambulance or a helicopter but the ‘help’ told them it wasn’t available. My heart definitely goes out to these kids. I probably graded the majority of the tests I worked through a bit more generously than the other teacher.

After school I went home, followed by a few new students, and began my writing. I can’t remember the names of the students that came by but I had worked with them the day before while in Dume’s class.

At 4 I met up with Eric at the Trust Center because we would be heading back over for IMG_3598another Judo class! For this class both of us suited up and joined in with the fun. I’m really working hard to be the best White Ninja I can be! We were each paired up with different kids throughout the class which made it a lot of fun. They knew the moves but we were still much bigger than them and could throw them around with ease. Maybe once we are both a bit better we will start practicing throw downs on each other. At the end of the class a young boy named William asked if he could be my partner. I accepted and we began practicing our throw downs. William is probably half my height and maybe 50 pounds when wet. We fought for two minutes and I made sure to let him take me down a few times. One of the instructors, Theo, has both of his sons involved with Judo. You can imagine they are both very skilled, but they are still quite young. I was paired up with his older boy. In the picture is Eric, Theo’s son, and myself. I talked to Theo about visiting and observing one of the schools his sons go to. I think it’d be pretty interesting going from a school in Kayamandi to a school in Stellenbosch. I’ll let you know how it goes!IMG_3599

Once home we ate a delicious dinner of chicken, homemade bread, and salad. The bread was very good and I hope there will be more of it!

Later in the evening we met up for another game of Catan. We played two games, both very close and both very competitive! Hanneke won the second game for her first win!! I couldn’t have been more proud! haha

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My First Judo Class

I woke up this morning with the sudden realization that I’ve been giving everyone I meet my SA phone number from 2 year ago! I confirmed this when I went to check how much air time I had left and noticed that the 50 rand I added just two days ago was nowhere to be found. This is completely my fault and a pretty idiotic mistake but it’s one I made and now had to fix. I entered my name and number into my own contacts, two years ago, so I could have quick access to it when I needed to add more air time or when I needed to provide someone with my number. When I got a new Sim card and new number one week ago I guess it slipped my mind to change out my own contact. So into Stellenbosch I went, a bit gingerly because my hamstring was still bothering me.

While in the mall I also realized there are a lot of stores I’ve never been into and decided I’d check a few out. I found a much nicer grocery store, a store comparable to a Target, a nice book store, and a food and wellness store. I think this part of the mall might have been under construction when I was here in 2011. I didn’t buy anything but I definitely discovered the stores where I’d be buying things in the future.IMG_3554

When I got home I decided I would spend my time getting as much work done as I could. This consisted of returning emails, writing post cards, sorting through videos, and updating my blog.

Around 4pm Hanneke and Mieke came by to greet me. They had just finished their first day with Prochorus, and were interested in walking to the trust center to see how Eric’s second day went. I decided to go with them and when we got there we saw Eric waiting outside. We thought his day would be finished but he had just been informed that he’d be accompanying a group of students into Stellenbosch where they would practice Judo. Many of the younger kids were running around practicing their judo moves. IMG_3557Since the three of us didn’t have anything else going on we decided to jump at the opportunity to join. A few minutes later a truck pulled up. It was the type of truck that had a covering over the bed. Myself, Eric, and 11 other students piled into the bed of this truck while the girls took the front seat. This proved to be one of the craziest rides I’ve been on yet. On the way there Eric and I couldn’t get over the craziness that the kids have just accepted as normal. Never would you see something like this in the states or throughout Europe.IMG_3559

When we arrived at the facility where they’d be practicing Judo the kids all hopped out and ran into the building. Actually most of them ran in every which way because I guess they had a few minutes to kill. The class was mixed between white children from Stellenbosch and black children from Kayamandi. It was actually really nice to see everyone coming together to exercise in this way… even if it meant organized fighting. The instructors we met were very nice and accommodating. Had my hamstring not been bothering me I would have absolutely participated! I think I may give it a try on Wednesday. Out of the 11 children from Kayamandi that made the trip to the center, only a handful of them actually participated. It reminded me a bit of high school gym class when a few students would “forget” their uniforms. After everyone was warmed up and stretched they paired off by height and began practice holds and grips. We happened to have the two smallest, and probably newest, youngsters right in front of us. The highlight of my day was watching these two attempt to keep up and practice their moves with the rest of the class. There were plenty of times where I couldn’t contain myself from laughing, it was too good. Even though there is a bit of a language barrier between the young Kayamandi kids and the young kids from Stellenbosch, and definitely a difference in where they live, and how they look, they all got along really well. It was great seeing everyone come together and just act like kids.IMG_3556

At 6pm our driver came back to pick us up. The ride home was even more exciting than the ride there as the kids were all showing off their vocal skills. They sang so many songs and were so good! The kid sitting next to me could easily be the next teen pop idol. Towards the end of the ride I decided this was well worth getting a video of. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in checking it out you’ll have to remind me once I get home.

Back in Kayamandi we headed to Mama Zulus because it was approaching dinner time. Tonights meal consisted of rice, fried chicken, and for the first time… salad!! It’s been too long since I ate a salad! Of course with that being said it’s Monday and back in the USA that means Monday Night Football! I was really craving some buffalo chicken wings! I did get a text very early the next morning from my dad telling me that the Eagles won!

Riri with his bling

Riri with his bling

After dinner Riri, and Mawande were back in my room waiting for me. Mawande showed me the bracelet he’s been working on. He’s definitely starting to get the hang of it! Riri challenged me to checkers. Last time we played he beat me pretty bad, this time wasn’t much different. On the third and fourth games we had a draw though.

Around 9 I walked the them up the street before saying goodbye. I know my time here is going to be over before I know it and I’m really valuing every minute of it!

IMG_3563When I got back Eric informed me that they were all ready for another game of Catan. Mieke and I shared a bit more strategy with Eric and Hanneke and the game proved to be much closer. In the end I was still victorious. It’ll feel better for them to earn their first win, not have it given to them.

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Ultimate Weather

We all got up Sunday morning ready to head into Stellenbosch and play some Frisbee. Unlike IMG_3518Saturday though today wasn’t so sunny and looked like it may rain. Hendri and Chris came to pick us up at 9:30 to take us over to the fields. One of the reasons we took two cars was because Hendri was bringing along his dog Nox. Nox is 9 months old and was an absolute joy to play with!

The plan was to warm up, practice, have a scrimmage, and then have a cook out. A team by the name of Ghost would be joining us. Ghost is a team based out of Cape Town and they are the defending national champs for South African Ultimate. Their team is compiled of players from all over IMG_3519the world really. I met a few Americans that played for them, a couple from Australia, a German, a couple from Great Britain, and of course a few South Africans. They were a lot of fun to play with and I think the Stellenbosch team learned a lot! Pretty early on into our training it began to rain. This didn’t stop us from practicing but it did make for very cold and wet conditions. These conditions are important to practice in because you never know what the conditions may be like on a game day. Unfortunately, I ended up pulling my right hamstring. I could feel both of my hamstrings becoming tight and I stretched and did everything I could to prevent a pull but it wasn’t enough. I’m going to continue stretching it and try not to let it hold me back but I’ll have to take a few days off from ultimate.

Because it was raining we all decided that rather than having a cook out we’d just go to Ginos.IMG_3521 Ginos is an Italian restaurant that specializes in pizza. I remember Ginos from two years back and I was happy we’d be able to eat there. All in all there were two teams of ultimate players that caravanned to the restaurant… which meant slow service. Even though it took a while to get our food I think everyone was alright with it because it gave us all a chance to talk. I had told Hanneke, Mieke, and Eric how great the ultimate community is. How no matter where you are in the world it seems ultimate Frisbee players are pretty great people. This definitely held true and I think they may continue to play!

When we got home we were all pretty damp, exhausted, and full of pizza. It was around 4pm and Chester was waiting for us. I told Chester I had to shower and sent him over to Erics room, but this was also because I really just wanted to just lay down. My leg was pretty sore, and I was just plain tired. As I lay there just on the verge of falling asleep I heard Butsha. He was yelling something and made his way to my room. I thought he was just looking to play but he was coming to tell us dinner was ready. Oh man, we totally forgot to tell Mama Zulu that we ate a late lunch and were still full. It was too late now so we all got up and went to dinner. Turns out everyone was just lying low and relaxing. Needless to say we all ate smaller portions that night. Eric was really interested in playing Catan again and had high hopes of winning. Hanneke and myself still needed to shower so our plan was to play afterwards. IMG_3516

Back at my door, Riri, Atha, and Aphiwe were all waiting for me. I set them up with my ipad while I went to go shower. We still had some time before Catan so the four of us went through some more pictures from my time here in 2011. I always enjoy going through those pictures and to be able to share them with the students is even better!

The second night of Catan proved just as much fun as the first. Both Mieke and myself won one more time each. We’ll see if Eric can pull of that victory on Monday.

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Frisbee and Board Games

The boys asked the day before what time they could come over on Saturday. I told them maybe between 9-10 but quickly thought mentioned that closer to 10 would be better. I got a knock at my door at 8:58. Half asleep I thought that if I just ignored it they would come back an hour later.IMG_3496 That’s when my phone started to ring. I got and headed to my door and could see that there was a shadow over the normally see through key hole (later in the day I too looked through the key hole and was amazed at how much you could see in side. There is another door before getting into my room but you could completely see the entire entrance way.). Outside were Ski, Mawande, and Chester. I ushered them inside, told them I could use another 30 minutes of sleep, and set them up quietly with my ipad. They actually did a decent job keeping quiet but not to the point that I was able to fall back asleep.

Shortly after being let in Eric came over to see what all the noise was about. I think he was also a IMG_3494bit shocked to see them all over so early. The plan was to head into Stellenbosch to play some Frisbee in the park. I was going to tell the boys that they could pick an ultimate jersey out of the bag but when I came back from brushing my teeth they were already geared up. Nice to see them making themselves at home haha.

It was probably 10am when we started our walk down to the mini buses. When we got there Eric realized he had forgotten his cell phone and wanted to go back and get it. He said he would just IMG_3489meet us at the park, and Chester decided he would go with Eric. I had no problems with this because it meant I had one less kid to pay for! Rather than a mini bus, today we piled into a jeep. 12 people in total piled into to the front seat, back seat, and trunk of this jeep. I think there were 5 people in the trunk alone!

The weather was just perfect for playing the park and we threw the Frisbee around for hours. We came up with a game similar to one we’ve all played before. One person throws the Frisbee the others try and catch and the person who comes down with it gets the points. I also added bonus points to anyone that could throw the Frisbee back to me. The boys are all getting pretty good at throwing and catching a Frisbee. I taught them how to read a disc today. To a bystander it might have looked like I was playing fetch but I promise it was all in good nature. Everyone loves the feeling of successfully running down a flying object no matter the sport you’re playing.IMG_3490

After playing in the park for a few hours Eric and I decided we would by some lunch for the boys and made our way to the McDonalds. I know it’s not healthy but we were just aiming for something to hold them over.IMG_3488

After some lunch we took the mini bus back to Kayamandi and were greeted by two new volunteers. Mieke and Hanneke are two very nice girls from the Netherlands. They had actually arrived late the night before but we had already been fast asleep. We introduced ourselves and they got to meet Ski, Mawande, and Chester. While we were letting them get settled the rest of us went back to my flat where we worked on some bracelets and made some music on the ipad. The girls came over to join us and I told them a bit about the township. I feel like a pretty well groomed guide at this point. Since they had just arrived they weren’t sure yet how to head into Stellenbosch and they had a few things they needed to pick up. Even though we had just gotten back from town I thought it’d be nice if we took them back in to teach them how it’s done. I’m really quite fond of sharing what I know about Kayamandi because I love the township so much!IMG_3495

I told the guys (Ski informed me that they are no longer kids) that we’d be back later but for now I was going to take the girls into town. I love being there to witness everyone’s first time riding a mini bus, or being there when a child runs up to them for the first time and lays a big hug on them. It’s so welcoming to receive so many hugs, from the kids of the township, just on the way to the bus station. Of course our walk to the buses is also filled with such beautiful views that it’s hard to say which is more welcoming. Our bus wasn’t packed on our way into town like I told them it’d be, but I think that was because it was midafternoon. I really truly do my best to show and tell the other volunteers as much as I can because when I leave I’m going to want to know they are still taking care of my students, and I’ll want lots of updates! I made sure to tell them all about which restaurants the kids can eat free, and which book stores to shop at, and which fields to play soccer at. I want to know that when I leave I’ll still be there for these kids… sorry, young adults.

After running a few errands, picking up some food, and buying the necessary adapters we took a mini bus back to the township. This ride held 21 passengers with me in the back with 4 others, and the 2 girls sandwiched up front with the driver. I love these rides! I was a little concerned that the girls may not know when to get off but they informed me afterwards that they kept an eye on me for each stop. I considered getting off early so we could walk a bit through the township but we had food with us and I figured it was more important for them to know the proper place to get off. Once at our stop I had to teach them how to say the name of our street, Cedile street. Both Mieke and Hanneke speak perfect English as well as their home language of Dutch. I’m glad that I can at least help them with Xhosa. All day every day I meet people that are bilingual, some people here can speak many more that two languages but I feel pathetic only able to speak English, EVERYONE seems to be able to speak English. Often the players on the Frisbee team just go back and forth between Afrikaans and English without even skipping a beat. Because Dutch and Afrikaans are closely related the girls from the Netherlands can also understand when the locals speak Afrikaans. Even Eric, from Germany, is able to pick some of it up. Afrikaans is derived from Dutch and German after all. I need to get my act together!

It was just about time for dinner by the time we got home and the 4 of us all sat down to yet another delicious meal prepared by Lelethu and Mama Zulu. I asked them afterwards if it’s easier to cook for a lot of people or just a few. They told me the stove does the cooking and they just have to stand there. They are very humble and modest though because their food is great, and I know it can’t be easy to cook for a group of strangers.

At dinner I asked the girls if they had played the game of Catan. They had, and Mieke told me she plays it almost weekly! This was awesome news and without a doubt we had a plan for the evening.

IMG_3515Eric needed to make a phone call so in the meantime I taught the girls the basics of bracelet making. They got it relatively quickly, but not without a few major knots along the way. I also had time to show the girls were they would be doing their volunteer work. The clouds looks really beautiful against the mountains.


Mieke and I intensely strategizing

Catan is a German board game, yet Eric was the only one of us who hadn’t played it before. I taught him the rules and we let the games begin. We played two games with Mieke winning the first and myself winning the second. Both were great games, and just the first of many. During our match I got to try some snacks from the Netherlands and from Germany. Eric had his delicious chocolate and gummy bears, and the girls brought this waffle like cookie that was soft and tasted like it was filled with syrup. It was pretty incredible.

I convinced them all to join me on Sunday for an Ultimate Frisbee practice followed by a cookout but we’d be getting picked up at 9:30 in the morning. After our second game we all went our separate ways and headed off to bed. It’s always fun to meet new people, especially when they know how to play Catan!!

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London’s Finest

The start of a long week of traveling Sean and I woke up by 9 and packed ourselves ready to go. Today we’d be headed to London to meet up with some more free runners! Since today was also to be my last day in Nottingham that meant that I’d need to take everything with me. Luckily, Sean’s mum drove us to the train station that morning to save us from having to walk and take the bus. But what I was most happy about was that Koren had already taken my super huge Blue Bag that was filled with all the donations so I wouldn’t have to lug that throughout the city. IMG_2908

Our plan was to meet up in London, spend the afternoon training, before heading to Red Hill to stay the night at Koren’s. When we first got into to London our first task was to find where these guys were training. To give you a visual, I was carrying around two medium sized bags and one small one, and Sean had two bags with him as well. At this point, due to the back injury Sean was still recovering from, our pace was relatively slow and labored. IMG_2910

We finally made it to their first training location and there were 5 or 6 guys training. The place again looked as if it had been created for the purpose of free running but the guys insisted it was just a good find. Since Sean wasn’t able to do much training he spent the afternoon coaching me. I’m still no where’s near at the level of everyone else but I was able to do a few jumps that I never would have thought plausible. IMG_2915

The second place we went to train ended up being like a mecca for free runners. I think it was the combination of it being a bank holiday, and beautifully sunny, but we were joined by so many runners. These guys would come up with something they wanted to do, a challenge, and they’d spend as much time as they needed perfecting it. Everywhere you looked there were people jumping, flipping, and running. There was also a large span of ages that were there. There were kids ranging from late twenties to young teens. Sean was saying that every year the kids seem to get younger and better, performing stunts harder and more difficult than ever before. This was definitely apparent as I watched kids half my age flipping and jumping without a care in the world. IMG_2921

Around 4 in the afternoon Sean, Tim, David, and I traveled across town to a pub known as, The Worlds End. This place was really cool and had a loft above the bar where we stationed ourselves for the better part of the afternoon. Since I had all my stuff with me still, and they each happened to have bags too it looked as if we were all backpackers. This also meant that we had loads of things to entertain us. First we played cards while having a few drinks but once we realized we all knew how to play Catan we knew exactly how we’d be spending our afternoon. Playing a board game in a loft of a pub turned out to be a pretty great location and atmosphere. As I’m sure you can imagine we were able to make the board game a bit more interesting with a few appropriately adapted rules. Tim was our grand winner but we were all a bit happy to finished I think because it meant moving on to our next location for some much needed dinner. IMG_2927

We grabbed our bags and took a train to Camden. Camden is a section of London that is known for its markets and cheap food. We ate a place called Bang Bang chicken. It was equivalent to Chinese food you’d find at a food court. This of course means it was exactly what we were looking for!

Our next stop of the night was to Islington where the guys knew fellow runner and friend that was going to be playing guitar at a bar. Although this ended up being a bit of a hike to get to it ended up being totally worth it. Max was the guy that would be entertaining us with his guitar skills and he was really great. More impressive was that fact that he was born without a forearm on his left/strumming arm. If you were just listening you’d never know. This guy was truly talented and an absolute inspiration! IMG_2929

We spent the rest of the night hanging out at this pub before making the journey to Red Hill where Koren’s family resides. The trip wasn’t the easiest but we did finally make it. At this point we had carried those bags throughout this entire journey and we were in desperate need of sleep. It had been a very long Monday and on Tuesday we’d be making the long drive to Cambridge!