Well, here I am, surprised and relieved to be at the end of my first week of work at St. Leo’s. It felt quite nice to drive away today with the first week behind me, even though I only taught three classes this week (we’ll have to see how Grade 6 and Grade 5 go early next week).
The prospect of teaching primary school Oral English was very daunting, even though I’d wanted to try my hand at teaching from the beginning. There are other jobs available to Augustinian Volunteers down here; the other girls split their time between Hillcrest Respite Centre, a place for AIDS and TB patients to be cared for, and 1000 Hills Community Helpers in Inchanga, a centre where there are free clinics, childcare, and other resources for the people of 1000 Hills. I’m planning on spending some time at those worksites as well (especially when school is closed during the World Cup), but I’m officially full-time at St. Leo’s, a primary school in Molweni.
It was a relief to learn that I wouldn’t be alone at St. Leo’s; Becca and Mary-Kate alternate days and so there are two of us in the classroom every day. We see from Grade 3 to Grade 7, doing art projects with the younger children and more grammar and technical things with the older kids. All said, we’ll teach about 400 children a week, as each class averages about 70-80 children. This week was tricky as there are tons of resources left behind by former volunteers but sorting through all the worksheets and supplies is quite a chore. We concentrated on “getting to know you” sort of stuff this week, and through those projects we were able to get a glimpse of the level of language capability among the students. Thankfully, even though some are quite a bit more advanced than others, they’re really good at translating into Zulu for the kids who don’t speak much English.
Unfortunately, our Zulu lessons are delayed in getting off the ground so we’re stuck with whatever we pick up throughout the day.
Life here at home has been good; Pat left on Wednesday to go back home, so now it’s for real. We’ve got a bit of a schedule going for dinner and cleaning and prayers, but I think we may have to review our procedures a bit after January’s over. Time is already passing quickly—February starts soon! The weather has been quite changeable, but truthfully it’s been really an adjustment to get used to wearing shorts & sundresses in January! There’s also a large variation in weather from up here in Bothas Hill to down in Molweni; it tends to be much hotter in the valley. We lost power at school this week due to thunderstorms in the area, and the computer teacher, Ayanda, had to just sit and wait out the blackout. After school ended on Wednesday, Becca and I stopped by a Spar for groceries to make dinner for the Augustinians that night, and found the entire strip mall in darkness. Good thing I got a flashlight for Christmas!
And so we’re all very happy to see Friday. Becca and I have to run and pick up Mary-Kate and Meg at Hillcrest soon, and then we’ll wind down from the hectic week together. We’re hoping to get to the beaches in Durban soon, so perhaps tomorrow we’ll make the trip.
I hope you’re all well; though I’m not homesick just yet, I do miss being able to be so connected to everyone back home—but a break from the noise has been very nice so far. We’ll see how I feel come June or July...