When people ask me how school/teaching is going, I sometimes don’t know what to say…I find myself at with a lack for words, not because there’s nothing to tell but because there is so much to say. It is a challenge, but one I enjoy immensely. It has been very, very difficult to go from teaching in the States with all the technology and resources I need at my fingertips to a bridging school in Swaziland with no resources and nothing but chalk and a chalkboard. While it is overwhelming and frustrating at times, it is rewarding to learn to use whatever limited tools and resources I have to teach my students. The best part about teaching them is that they are hungry for knowledge. I read them a story yesterday and it was the most quiet they have been. One boy even asked if he could take the book home, and when I said, “of course,” he was surprised I let him. Books are special here, and I love that they love them!
They love school because to them school is a privilege. The students I teach are ones who are either off the streets or ones who cannot afford regular education in Swazi. However, (contrary to what I had hoped) just because they enjoy school doesn’t mean that they behave. They are just like any other teenagers around the world–little rascals. 😉
On a serious note, I have been both amazed and humbled by many of my students’ responses to the writing prompts I give them. Just to give you a taste of who some of these young men and women are, I am including a handful of their writing responses below.
Yesterday, I read the students an African story called, “Fly, Eagle, Fly,” and afterwards I had them write in their journals about what they would do or where they would go if they could fly like the eagle. These are a few responses:
Mciniseli, 13: “If I could fly like an eagle, I could go to the mountain.
If I could fly like an eagle, I could go to the mountain because the air comes nice and my wings could streach and streach.
I could go to my grandmother and visit her because her house at Mololotja is to far away from town I could fly and fly and reach there.
I would fly up to the mountains, hills, and up the sky so I can see the hool world.”
Ncobile, 15: “If I cold fly like an eagle I will fly up into the sky and see the moon and stars.
I will fly to China I will want to see the country of China. I could fly to visit Mantenga Falls.
I could fly to Zimbabwe to visit president Mngabe. I could fly to visit at Durban.
I could fly to visit at U.S.A. I could fly up to heave to see Jesus and Angels.
I could fly to visit Zambia because I want to know all the countrys in the world.”
Vukane, 15: “If I can fly like an eagle I can go to visit other country like USA and South Africa. I can fly to this country because I want to get a job when I finish school.
I can fly there until I get money to the job so that I can do many thing with the money.
What I can do with the money is that, I can give my mother so that she can buy food for us at home.
The rest of the money I fly to Somalia to give the poor people so that God my blessed me. I wish to fly like an eagle so that I can enjoy my life.”
Here are a few other entries from previous writing prompts (some are sweet, some might make you cry):
Thabani, 13: “When I am grow up I want to be a soldier then when I get my casn I will make a business by build the shops then I buy something that I will sell in the shop. Then I make many business in Swaziland then I will be the business man. Then I help the poor people an give them food shelter. And I will go around the streat and fetch children that they need shelter and give them education.”
Vukane, 15: “If I can get four gold coins I can spend the money by buying nice clothes for my sister and I. After that I give my mother the change for buying food like rice, meat, and vegetable.”
“My mother is my hero. Because she look after me she cares for every one at home. She put me at school so that I can lern about every thing. My mother is my hero because she know that she mus buy clothes for us so that we will look likes other childrens.”
Nobuhle, 15: “There are many bad days in my life but to day I want to write about the worst day in my life.
It was Thursday I was at home with my step mother. My step mother boil water after boiling the water she than call me. And she tell me that I have to clean the house.
When Im bussy clening the house she than take the boil water and put it on me this how that day became the worst day on me.”
What do you want to learn? “I want to learn about how to write spellings and what you think it can help me in my life.
How can I help you become a better student? “I want you to teach me about what you think it can help me. By teach me how to do all of this things that you think it can make me to be better.
Nolwazy, 14: “My name is Nolwazy Kunene. I live at Modonsa. I’m 14 year old. I go to Enjabulweni Study Centre. I live with my mam and sisters. In my family we are five. I like to play netball, swimming and dance. I like colour pink, orange, green and yellow. My father was died long ago and I do not know him.”
“When I grow up I want to be a nurse. I want to finish school first. I want to go to University and achive my ambision. I want to help sick people in Swaziland and helps poor people. I pray to God and give me a power to help those who need to help. I want to build a beautiful house and have two children boy and girl. I want to help my family because is poor. I want to help people to building they house. In life you must know that life is too difficult. I want to build my mom beautiful house and beautiful car.”
So… I figure the best way to tell you how teaching is going is to show you the hearts of some of my students. Though they can be frustrating (like today…they wouldn’t listen for the life of me), I count myself truly blessed to be in a position to teach such eager and thirsting hearts. If you think of it…pray for them, their dreams, their futures…their lives.