I also haven't celebrated Valentine's Day in such a big way since cherry-flavored, heart-shaped lollipops and candy hearts and cartoon valentines in 8th grade. Today, being the last day of school before Valentine's Day on Sunday, the students at St. Leo's donned their red and white clothes and we spent the day listening to music, making Valentine cards, and watching performances by some of the children.
Some of the valentines we received today, for your viewing pleasure:
"Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you!" -- we've got a bit of a Parrot Syndrome going on. We wrote this poem on the board and everybody just copied it into their cards.
"To Sinead, Becky, and Mary-- happy valentine's day and I want to say you rock and you are good girls"
I like this one... it's to me and from me!
Teaching hasn't been easy in the past two weeks, because I've come to the perhaps obvious realization that I'm not here in South Africa on vacation. The famous "honeymoon period" of moving to a new place has come to an end, and I'm not longer enamored of our little white car with the worst engine in the world on the hills, or excited to be sweating while everyone at home suffers a winter blizzard. The kids at St. Leo's are still adorable on good days, but when I'm trying to ask for words that begin with the letter B and I hear apple or airplane, my frustration sometimes gets the best of me.
What has been very nice about settling in is the fact that my routine is more set in place-- I've finally begun to find things to do daily that make my time productive and happy. I feel more at ease with our South African friends, which makes hangouts on weekends much less stressful. I'm happy to say that I've started some relationships with a lot of the teachers at St. Leo's, and we've had really good conversations before school starts in the morning, or during car rides back to Hillcrest from the valley. Ayanda, my friend who teaches computers and maintains the finances at St. Leo's, has been a really great person to get to know-- she's really good with the kids and because she's our age, it's been really nice to get a young Zulu person's perspective on life.
That being said, I am really thankful to see another Friday arrive. This week was very exhausting-- I think the realization that my life is now all about being a teacher here in South Africa made me reflect a lot during the week. Though community life continues to go well, we've also been thinking hard about how to feel a kinship with the Zulu people we serve. Because our weekends so far have been spent with white people from Kloof parish, going back to the valley on Mondays is sometimes very hard to deal with. But now that the antidote to this somewhat schizophrenic existence has been suggested, I'm hopeful about continuing to strengthen relationships with both our Kloof friends and Zulu friends as well.
Though we're tired from our first week of "real life" here in South Africa, we've got lots of exciting plans for the weekend.
This evening, we've decided to bring the good ol' tradition of Happy Hour to Bothas Hill, and the Augustinians as well as their American visitors have been invited to our cottage for snacks and drinks. Tomorrow, my roommates and I plan on visiting the Shongweni Farmers' Market in the early morning-- and perhaps indulge in breakfast there. Then in the afternoon, we have plans with our friends from Kloof to drive to Durban for a braai (barbeque) and drinks before the opening game of the Durban Sharks rugby season-- in a series known as the Super 14. They'll be playing the Chiefs (from New Zealand) and I could not be happier to finally get to see a rugby game here, something I've been looking forward to for months. This all happening the weekend before my 23rd birthday is the icing on the cake!
And finally, on Sunday, the four of us will be joining the Augustinian friars for the dedication of St. Helen's Church, a brand new church just built for a Zulu community not too far from here.
I hope the temperature cools down by then, but for now, I'll leave you East Coast-ers to the winter storms... and cool myself off with a dip in the pool.