Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Day of Teaching

Yesterday was my first day of teaching in South Africa. I woke up in the middle of the night with feelings of anxiety and anxiousness. I had been waiting for the moment to enter into the classroom and do what I love so much. However, all of a sudden it hit me that I am in South Africa, and I am going to be standing in a class with students looking at me to teaching them and be the expert. On the outside I tried to remain calm but on the inside I was a complete wreck.

I was finally able to fall back to sleep, but it seemed as soon as I did my alarm was ringing and it was time for me to get up. I was able to have breakfast and then started my walk to school. The entire way I tried to remain calm and confident but again I was nervous on the inside.

This week we are doing workshops for Grade 7 and Grade 8 students who live in the different townships. These students have been working on math and science for the last couple of weeks while the schools here in South Africa are on holiday break and World Cup break. The tutors that are running the program wanted Teach with Africa to run workshops on different life skills. There are workshops being held on Study Skills, Writing, Leadership, and Journalism. I decided that I wanted to do a workshop on leadership. I feel like developing leaders in middle school is such a huge need that both the South African society and American society need to tap into.

Once I was assigned a class to enter, I started feeling extremely nervous. However, as soon as I saw the 20+ students and I was in the class, all of those nerves just went away. It felt as if I had already met and taught these students before. I couldn't believe how at ease I was. In hindsight, I realized that this is the same feeling I had on my first day of teaching and the same feeling I get on the first day of school every year. However, once I heard the kids say their name and then they said my name it was like I had never left my class. When my time was up with the first class I didn't want it to be over. Luckily, I had a great first class. They were amazing and so eager to participate. I didn't want out time together to end but I knew I would have another chance to continue with the second class that would come in after lunch.

As I was leaving and walking back to the house I just had such a profound realization. There are many days that I complain about life and complain about my job, but I know that I do what I do for a reason. I am a teacher for a reason. I love what I do. I especially love the middle school years. Something about working with students who are the future is very invigorating. There are some amazing days in the classroom and there are some days that just go horribly wrong in the classroom, but that is part of teaching. I know that my calling is in education. Especially as I enter the time of my life where I start contemplating the next step in my career with education, I am glad that I have this sense of rejuvenation and excitement.

My goal is to work on blogging more and especially doing more stuff with the Flip Cam. Once I start working with the LEAP students I will be doing some projects with the Flip Cam and posting more pictures.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pictures from South Africa

Below are some pictures from the first week of South Africa.

The picture above is Table Mountain. This was taken at the FIFA World Cup Fan Park where we watched South Africa defeat France. 

Above is a picture of myself and a Grade 12 student at LEAP. I had just purchased a South Africa scarf for the game versus France. One thing I did underestimate was the temperature here in Africa. Generally during the days it is around the mid 50's to mid 60's and at night the temperature drops around the mid 30's to 40's. Sometimes it feels much cooler inside than outside. The weather has been amazing so far for the first week.

The food above was absolutely amazing. This was at an authentic South African restaurant where they take students and help them enter into the culinary profession. This was a meal shared with both Teach with Africa Fellows and LEAPSA's. There was chicken, cabbage, samp and beans, rice, tripe( which is the intestines of usually cows or other animals.... actually was really good and tasted like chicken as the LEAPSA's told me), and pap which is absolutely amazing. Nothing like great starches.

In South Africa there currency is called the Rand. Roughly 7 rand equals a US Dollar. The pictures on the money is absolutely amazing.
These are two of the amazing people I am working with this summer. Jamie and Jen. In the background you can see the majesty of Table Mountain. In addition, you will notice the famous World Cup vuvuzela horn that has caused so much controversy and that you will hear all throughout South Africa and at the World Cup matches.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cape Town-Saturday

So most of the Teach With Africa team has now arrived. It is so nice to finally not just be the only person that has arrived. It was very exciting to see members of the team that I had not seen since orientation in San Francisco. After a few minutes of everyone arriving and quickly settling in, we headed to LEAP. LEAP is the school that we will be working at over the next two months.

When we got to the LEAP we were greeted by the LEAPSA's. The LEAPSA's are the alumni association of LEAP as well as alumni who want to become teachers. They were having a meeting and then welcomed us by singing. Once I heard the African singing I knew I was going to feel a flood of emotions. Words cannot describe how I felt listening to them sing. It was such an amazing experience. This is when it definitely hit me that I was in Africa.

We had a quick lunch and a chance to talk to some of the students. Later in the day I had a chance to talk to John Gilmour who is the founder of all the the LEAP schools. What an amazing guy to talk to. I am looking forward to learning so much from him and being at LEAP.

Later that night we headed out to get dinner and have a few drinks. We were able to sit and watch the Cameroon World Cup game. Once I got home I crashed after being completely exhausted. I cannot imagine what this amazing experience has in-store for the next two months.

Friday, June 18, 2010

15 hours of flying.... I am in Africa!!!!!!!

I am writing my first post here in Africa! I cannot believe it! Words cannot even describe what I am feeling right now. I have been take pictures and using the Flip Cam to record this amazing experience.

Here is a quick recap of what my life has been like in the last 24 hrs... :-) Hopefully I can get it all in before my hour of Internet time runs up.

I departed Philadelphia at 2AM on a Greyhound bus. There were only 12 people on the bus. It was the best bus ride ever. The only problem was that it ended to quickly. It only took us an hour and forty minutes because there was no traffic.

When I arrive at Port Authority the subway was closed at that section and I had to carry all my luggage up 4 flights of steps... Talk about an early morning work out.

I then decided that I was going to take a Taxi to JFK. Of course I ended up with a very entertaining taxi driver. I just wanted to sleep but I got to hear his whole life story which was entertaining.

I arrived at the airport at around 4:30 and of course I couldn't check in until 7:30. Luckily I found a great spot of a nap... and looking at the drool stain I had on my shirt I must have had a good nap. I then killed time in the airport and get some food and waited until it was time for me depart.

As I boarded the plane I had so many emotions running through my head. I was excited, nervous, anxious, and just didn't know what to really expect. Luckily, April had written me a letter that was in my wallet that I read and that put me at ease.

The person next to me was a good seat partner and I had the window seat. Lunch was really good I had Lamb Stew and then the plane was dark and most people slept. 15 hours seems like a long time.... and it definitely is when you are sitting down in an airplane.. however I made it and was able to watch 4 episodes of Glee.. :-)

Now I am waiting in the Johannesburg airport on my way to CapeTown. World Cup fever is crazy here! It is so amazing to see people so passionate about their country in sports.

Well thats all for now... off to take a nap before I fly to Cape Town!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Off to South Africa

I cannot believe that as I am writing this I am finishing up my packing process for South Africa. My next update will happen once I arrive in South Africa this weekend. 

South Africa here I come... :-)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup

The World Cup officially began on Friday with South Africa playing Mexico. When I was briefly watching the soccer game it hit me, that a week from now I will be in South Africa. That thought flooded my mind with so many emotions. I have been thinking about this and preparing for this since December and now I am facing my last few days here in the US before spending two months in South Africa. Just watching the World Cup game and seeing the atmosphere inside the stadium just gave me chills. I can only imagine what the excitement and buzz must be like right now in South Africa with the World Cup. I have no idea if I am going to be able to see a World Cup game or not, but just to be there with this event going on will only add to the great experience I am going to have. I am so excited to meet the students I will be working with as well as the South African teachers I will be working with and gaining so much information from there. As the days pass by the excitement is going to continue to grow. Soon I will be posting my first blog from South Africa... :-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

getting closer.... :-)

So in two weeks.... at this time I will be in my 10th hour of a 17 hour flight to Africa.... :-)

As I write this nerves and excitement are definitely kicking in. I can remember back in December when I was thinking about applying to Teach With Africa and thinking about how this day would never come. It would take forever for June to get here... and now as I write this I only have two weeks left in the US. I cannot wait to experience this life changing event.