Friday, July 6, 2012

Last Day of School (June 29, 2012)

Sadness enters my heart when I think of the solitude of the next six weeks.  I did not realize how attached I have become to the kids at the junior secondary school.  Walking through the school often I feel like I am in middle or high school again as I see kids staring at me and wonder what they are thinking.  All the self esteem issues and worries flood back into my mind.  It was often hard to just walk through the school wondering when kids talk among themselves and laugh while looking at me or saying my name if they are making fun of me. 

Over the last few months I have become more and more comfortable there as my self confidence has built and I am better understanding the issues the kids have to deal with on a daily basis such as lack of an adult support network they trust.  The kids have to worry about their physical safety as it is a boarding school with almost 250 boarders split between boys and girls hostels.  For each there is 1 body matron looking after the kids.  This is not enough.  The kids are left to run free basically unsupervised during the evenings and weekends.  This term has been a rape (not the first the school has seen either), and just last week one of the boys attempted to break into the one of the girls hostels with a knife attempting to attack her.  Luckily the night watch heard something and caught him in time. There are also interaction issues between the students and teachers.  Rarely do I hear a teacher or staff say anything positive to the kids even when they do something well and my heart goes out to them as I think of the stresses they are managing.

There have been a few times when I have just gone on to campus and started talking to someone just to look up to find myself surrounded by 20 kids all listening intently to what I am saying and barraging me with questions about everything from life in general, my personal opinions, lifestyle, and the US (these are mostly girls as I think they feel more comfortable talking to a female).  It is an overwhelming feeling but amazing at the same time.  There are a couple girls who specifically told John they wanted to talk to me, so I can and found them during study period just to find out they wanted to go over a test they just took. Between that, playing cards, helping John with the computer club, and watching them with the teen pregnancy workshop I have developed a huge amount of respect and fondness for the kids I have gotten to know personally.

Yesterday was the last day of school and John and I handed out the contest awards during assembly.  We spent the night before baking brownies for all entrants.  Everyone got certificates as well as the 1st-3rd prize winners getting books and a feedback form identifying their strengths and weaknesses. Mma Masweu (Guidance & Counseling) and Rre Stoffel (Deputy Headmaster) helped us hand out prizes while Akiko (Japanese volunteer) took pictures for us. Afterwards two of the kids came up to thank me (John was getting permission forms for kids who wanted to be a part of the computer club over the summer) and wanted their photos taken with each other, Akiko, and me. A couple of the kids actually gave me a hug too.

I walked around the school after the kids left and it was too quiet, almost eerie after hearing the constant sounds of kids everywhere.  I know I will be seeing some of them while working on projects over the summer or just walking around, but it is not the same.

I had intended to post the above blog, but our internet stick stopped working, I here is an update for the weekend.

Monday was a holiday here and we had a couple friends over to share recipes and cooking.  This is the second time we have done this, so I will post pics from both events.  We are hoping to make this a monthly event.  Our biggest worry initially was the cost of food, but this has been remedied by everyone bringing some of the ingredients.

The first time we made a pizza and calzone with Moitshephi and Goitseone.
Monday we made fajitas with Caroline and Moitshephi (using soya not mince because mince is no longer available in Hukuntsi).