Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Just another day teaching in South Africa


Today is just going to be a short blog entry. In class the kids were reciting the alphabet. It was the same tune as ours BUT they pronounce some of the letters different so it sounds soooo different! I noticed while working with the children throughout these 5 weeks that I and E make the same sounds and they ask me which one I mean. There are also a few more I just can’t remember. Isn’t that kind of cool? It makes teaching a little bit more of a challenge, but it’s all good.
Let’s see. What are other phrases that I want to let you know about. Oh tekkies are sneakers. Kookies(sp) are markers. Also, today I got offered “cantaloupe” but that’s not what it's called here. They call it Spunk-Speck. It is Afrikans. One of the kids offered me one and asked if I have ever had it. While I was looking at it I was thinking to myself “hmm it looks like a cantaloupe.” Then I tried some and yup indeed it was haha.  Random thought I know. Thursday I am getting observed by professor for the last time. Last week she watched me for the first time. This time I am doing a large group life skills lesson so it will be a different atmosphere. I am hoping it goes well. At this point the kids are use to me and respect me somewhat, but kids will be kids so you never know until the day of!

Oh I know I am not supposed to have favorites, but I must say that Loyiso is such a cool kid and will be famous someday! This kid has bad ADHD. He is well behaved he just has a very hard time staying on task. He loves to draw and comes up with all these brilliant ideas! I mean brilliant. The littlest things will trigger these inventions. Today while reading he came up to me and told me an idea and said he got it from looking at a picture in the book we were reading. The other day after lunch he shows me a milk carton and asks if I will be here for show and tell because he is going to make this milk carton something amazing, but he can’t tell me. When we walk down the hall he always wants to talk. He is very tall and he told me, “Miss. Brown what if I keep growing? I will be able to BEAT everyone that I race.” He has such a great imagination. He also wants me to take him back to the USA so he can get a massage hahahaha. Oh, Loyiso. I could go on an on. I normally don’t post about specific kids, but he is something special.
Well that’s about it! I will be home in 2.5 weeks and then on to teaching kindergarten!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Last weekend! I think I am caught up!!


The highlight of my weeks are defiantly Weds when I get to help out with tap! I got a pair of shoes so I can dance along with them. At the very end after practicing the dance I taught them a new step and showed a few people what wings were. Their faces were priceless! A lot of them tried and it was so funny to watch! When I walked out EVERYONE wanted to see it. I am sure this Wednesday I will have to show everyone haha. Tap is one of my favorite things to do and to be able to help teach a class in South Africa is sooooo cool!! The kids also love that I am there watching and doing it with them : )

Last week teaching went well. I did my first supervised lesson on time in small groups and it went well. The kids are still crazy. We did painting on Fri and I had to take the paintings away from a few because they were ruining other peoples paintings. On Friday after school we had a games night. All the kids were welcomed to come to the school at 5:30-7(if they pained R35) to come play games created by the teachers, eat hot dogs, and play in the bouncy house and on the playground. We had a great turn out and made a good profit. At our station they children made hats. We found this old recycled paper with cool old flower patters. We pre-cut them so they made cones and the kids made the cones, stapled it, but streamers made out of paper on top and then we punched to holes and put elastic on them so they looked like party hats! The kids LOVED them! I thought it was cool how we made the streamers It was strips of recycled paper and we used scissors to curl it(like you do with ribbon).
                                                                                                                                                                                           
After games night I came home changed and we went out to the college bar The Rat and Parrot! Such a good time, but you guys don’t need details : )
We went to a bigger game park called Schotia. We drove around in a Landy. This drive was fantastic! It started at 2:30 and right off the bat we saw a whole pride of wild lions. They were bathing in the sun and up on the hill you can see the buck. The bucks were staring right at the lions. You could tell the lions weren’t going to attack them quite yet. The lions had cubs too! We got very close to a nursing lion. I got a video of it! We also got about 3 feet away from one. On this drive we saw rhino, all kinds of buck, giraffe, zebra, warthog, HIPPO, alligator hmm I am probably forgetting some. There were two hippos. They weren’t very active the first time we past the damn, but the second time they were very playful and active. Sadly at this time my camera died, BUT it was still so cool to see. They would open their mouths and chomp the water. Half way we stopped at this little house. It was like a western style bar. It was so cool. We also passed a collection of bones! On the way to dinner, we also passed the lions again. All of them, but the cubs were in the same spot. The cubs were all very close to the road playing with each other. It was so cute! They were pouncing and tackling each other. I got some video of it! We stopped at about 6:30 to eat dinner. It was a big hut, with a fire bit in the middle and little paths to different tables. The bathrooms were in the busy! There was a path that led inside a hill where the toilets were! It was so cool! We ate a traditional South Africa meal. We also got to know the people in our car a little bit better. There was a gay couple from Holland/Amsterdam and an older couple from Germany. They German couple spoke no English so our tour guide spoke both English and German. The gay couple spoke both(along with many other languages). Everyone was very friendly. After dinner we went on a spotlight NIGHT drive. The lions were in the same spot, but this time they were hunting the buck! They were all in a circle around the buck. There was also a little cub hunting a skunk hahaha. We could hear him yapping and running around. So any who this pack of lions were circling the buck and they went for the kill! Sadly thy didn’t make it : ( I personally was a little scared because I didn’t not want to hear the noises of the kill, BUT It would have been awesome to see. Did you know that only 30% of lion’s kills are successful? With that being said we were lucky to even see an attempt!  After we saw the attempted hunt we went back to camp and headed home. Such an AWESOME experience.

On Sunday we drove down to Port Elizabeth. Summer stayed there for 1 week before she came up here so she knew her way around. We wanted to go to a shop, but with the shops closing at 1 we didn’t make it in time, but it was ok! We got out at a shopping mall and walked around a bit then headed to a small game park. At this game park you drive yourself. We saw zebra, giraffe, rhino, and a lot of buck. We got to see them even closer than the other parks. A lot of them walked right up to the car. I wanted to pet them! It was pretty neat to be able to navigate it yourself! At the end of the drive we got to pet 2 Cheetahs! Yes you heard me right!! We went into the cage and got to sit with them and pet them! It was so cool and kind of scary! They were tamed, but at the same time they are never completely tamed. I can’t even put into words how cool it was! When we were finished with the Cheetahs we did a monkey walk. We crossed a ragged old swinging bridge(it reminded me of Indiana Jones) and did this walk through the woods. There were wooden boards throughout kinda like a boardwalk. Part of it overlooked the wild cheetahs and we managed to see a wild one! It was pretty cool, but sadly we didn’t see any monkeys L When we finished the monkey walk we headed home. Port Elizabeth is about 1:30 away from Grahamstown. It is where I flew into. On the way back we stopped to get a picture in front of the “Welcome to Grahamstown” sign and we stopped at Ginos(an Italian restaurant). They had AWESOME pizza. I got bacon, onion, and olives. They make the pizza on a wooden brick and stick it in a stone oven. The pizzas in South Africa are a little different. There isn’t a lot of sauce and the toppings are different. They are good, but I think the US has better : ) We went to Pick n Pay after dinner, returned the car then walked back. It was about 10:30 by the time this was all finished and I was so exhausted. I went to bed right away!

Since today is Monday I might as well update you on my teaching day. My teacher came up to me at 7:25(5 mins before school starts) telling me that she has an abscess in her tooth and she has to leave and won’t be back for the rest of the day. She gave me the lesson plans and I was on my own. With that being said the day went VERY well! I introduced a new classroom management technique. It gets them to be quiet faster than the bell, but like always they don’t stay quiet long, but hey we will work on it! Today was VERY hot so during dancing we sat and listened to music then did some fun dances like the Chicken Dance and Simon Says. It was crazy within 20 mins of school being out a crazy thunderstorm came through! Luckily I got a lift home. The lighting was so close with the thunder following seconds behind and sometimes! I can’t believe I am done teaching in 2 weeks! It has gone by so fast! I am also very excited to have my mom come down for a week and explore South Africa!

Weekend of Feb 11th


So this is from last weekend (Feb 11th) I can’t  wait until I am all caught up! I feel like I am leaving out so much which makes me sad!!

So this past weekend I had sooooo much fun!!!! We rented a car again. On Saturday we went to Kuantu Elephant Reserve and Kuantu Game Park. Both were AMAZING! At the elephant reserve we got a mini show and got to see just how smart elephants are. We got to ride an elephant and we also go to feed them!! All I can say is wow!! So when it came to riding the elephants I was at the end of the line of 5 people because I was scared. I know it sounds silly, but I am scared of heights. I also had a bad experience while riding a horse so I have been scared to ride a horse since and I mean HELLO an elephant is just a little bigger than a horse haha. Anyway, I’m at the end of the line then he calls me to go first! Ummm no? haha BUT I ended up doing it. I am pretty sure I cried a little bit. At first it felt like I was going to fall off. I was sitting on a blanket on the elephants back and holding on to the guide who was sitting in front of me. I didn’t feel very secure! After a while I got the hang of it! We went through a field that had zebra, buck, and other small game. The guide also told me about the elephants. Did you know that they have no bones in their feet? My guide was from Zimbabwe and his accent was kind of thick, but he was very nice! The name of my elephant was Amarillo(yes like the drink haha).The other guide took pictures which was really nice of him! He got some good ones. Sadly my camera died, BUT my roomies had theirs so it was all good! After we finished riding we got to feed them. When all that was finished we had about 2 hours to take a five min drive up the road to the game park where we would have a snack, go on a three hour game drive, and have dinner. Well thank goodness we had about 2 hours to get there! We ended up almost going to Port Elizabeth which is about an hour away. Oh remind you, we also got a little confused getting to the Elephant reserve as well. We aren’t very good at reading signs apparently. So yea we missed the sign for the game reserve and got there about an hour later. The same family that did the elephants with us were doing the game drive. They asked if we were following them. I jokingly said if we were we wouldn’t have gotten lost haha. The family is from Whales. There was what looked to be a 9 yr old boy, 6 yr old girl and mom and dad. They were very nice! The game reserve was sooooooo beautiful and relaxing. You walk in and it is like an elegant, welcoming hotel lobby. We hung around for about another hour and we had lovely snacks. Then it was time for the drive! For this drive we were driven around in a Landy. It is like the type you see on TV for the safaris! It was soooo cool, windy, bumpy! Holly and I sat in the way back. Apparently it is the worst place to sit because you get the most air, but it was a lot of fun! We got blankets halfway through because with the wind it was chilly. They call the brush the African Highway : ) We saw zebra, buck and a lot of other animals, but sadly no lions or giraffe. They saw the giraffes earlier and weren’t sure where they were. Our guide joked around and said maybe they took a vacation to the states. We also got to go to the cat sanctuary. There they had Cheetah, a pride of lions and a baby tiger. All but one of the lions was rehabbing to go back into the wild and you could tell! The little girl had a giraffe had on that had dangly legs and a long neck. The cats started following it! It was good for pictures, but scary! The cats starting growling and stalking the hat! The little boy also ran a few times when no running was allowed so it got the cats a little wound up haha. The sanctuary was so cool! One of the lions(the one who cant go back into the wild) was kept as some ones pet! : ( After the AMAZING drive we came back to the main place and waited for dinner. Before dinner there was entertainment. We didn’t know what it was going to be. We were hoping for a tribal dance, but no such luck. It ended up being a guy who brought in a huge snake and talked about how not dangerous they are and that the movies give them a bad reputation. It was very informative. At the end we got to hold the snake! I did it, but then again I am not that scared of snakes unlike some people. There was a lady who was terrified of snakes! In the beginning he brought out a bag and the lady freaked out because she assumed it was a snake(that was the point that we have a fear of what we don’t know and understand) Her husband was also scared, but at the end the husband came up and the lady touched it! It was so cool! After the show we had and had an amazing dinner! We sat down and had a full 3 course meal! It was so tasty : ) After dinner we headed back home.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The weekend of Feb 4th..

Well I had my blog all typed out and guess what? My computer died and it got deleted. I guess I need to update more frequently so if it happens again I don’t lose 2 week’s worth of good stuff!
                 So let’s see 2 weekends ago(Feb 4th) we rented a car to go to Port Alfred for the day. Our original plan was to rent the car and go to a game park, but when we called for a car they didn’t have any until later and it was rainy. We ended up getting the car around 5pm on Sat. During the day we walked around town. We went to CafĂ© Devine which lives up to its name! I got an omelet and it was fantastic. I also got a smoothie. It was made with all real fruit. It wasn’t my favorite(favourite) because it was really chunky, but it still tasted good! After we got the car we went out to eat at a restaurant called Spur. I got a quesadilla. I was craving one soo bad! I still have yet to try a traditional meal, but all the restaurants we have been to haven’t really had anything to exotic. Any who, so on Sunday we decided to go to Port Alfred. We heard it was beautiful which it was! Hopefully I can figure out how to post pictures on my blog to show you guys! So we got up early to go to the beach and guess what? We got a flat tire! We were driving a long and BOOM! (We think we hit a pothole). Man I have bad luck with cars. The best part was it happened right in front of the Welcome sign haha. So Holly kind of knew how to fix a flat and same with Summer so we pulled over a decided to fix it. There was a jack and a tire in the car. A few cars helped, but no one stopped UNTIll do do do dooooooo a red car that passed us turned around! It was a young guy in his twenties who was driving his mom and girlfriend to Port Alfred. His mom said that he asked if he could turn around and help the three girls back there. Luckily he did! It took him like 15 mins. We would have been there a lot longer haha. So after that was fixed we were on our way. Two side notes. Most of the cars here are stick and luckily Summer knows how to drive it so she was our driver and they drive on the other side of the road haha. Still hard to get use to. When I get in the car sometimes I go to the drives side by mistake. When we left for the beach it was a little rainy, but while we were eating lunch(I forget the name of the restaurant , but it was outside overlooking the water) the clouds moved out so by the time we went to the beach it was clear and sunny! The beach was sooo pretty! It’s the Indian Ocean! There were sand dunes everywhere. There were also a lot of jagged rocks and shells. We didn’t bring our swimsuits so we just got our toes wet, took pics, walked, collected shells, then just sat and listen to the ocean. It was very relaxing. After a few hours we headed home and had an un eventful trip. We passed some township homes. These homes are shacks. They look like ragged shacks that is barley standing that use to be used for storage. They are made out of tin.
Nothing to excited has been happening at school. I gave the kids a spelling test. This was the first time they had trouble understanding me haha. I had to repeat the words in context about 3 times and sometimes my teacher would have to repeat the word so they could understand. My stupid accent! The grade threes are practicing for the ball and they are coming a long great! I am taking over a lot more in the classroom. My mentor teacher and I are getting along great. That’s really about it. The kids still like me. I still like them. Although I am sooo exhausted!! Teaching all day is a lot of work!
Some random things. Horn=hooter, Eraser=rubber. They also say shame man and shame a lot.

Sorry if they are a lot of typos. I am trying to get these posted because I am so far behind. I have read through it a few times, but I am sure I missed somethings. I will go back and edit soon : )

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Week 2 already?

            So much has happened this week and it’s only halfway through! On Monday, my teacher had to spontaneously leave for two hours so I was left to teach the class ALL BY MYSELF!! I was super nervous, but I knew I could handle it(even if I didn’t think I could, I didn’t have much of a choice haha). The kids were pretty well-behaved. I think the students finally began to realize that I mean business and I am a teacher. They were rowdy, and I was told to take down names of students who didn’t listen. I wrote 2 names on the board and gave them a chance to be taken down, but the students failed to change their behavior so I had to tell my teacher. The students completed all the work I gave them on time. : ) As nervous as I was, I am so glad I got a chance to handle 35 students by myself. Even though I had to be a little strict, but the kids still love me : )
            Yesterday I took over reading groups. The children partnered up and got to pick a book. They are going to read this book for about 2 days, then report to the rest of the group and then switch books. The groups are based on ability and some groups were more challenging than others. It’s not the fact that some kids don’t get it, it’s just that some don’t want to listen to me AT ALL, which is so frustrating. Some groups work really well together and others don’t. This goes for maths as well.
            Today (Wednesday) I took over maths. We worked on place-value with the boards. The lowest group is really struggling. This is apparent when they work with me, and when they do work on their own. After school, I marked papers with my teacher and realized just how little some students understand. I’m glad I got to see who the struggling students are, but now the challenge is to somehow reach these children so they understand it.
            Today in the meeting with all the teachers I learned something interesting. After grade 3 at Oatlands the only option for public schooling in town is an all boys or all girls school. There is very limited space in both schools. About only 5 girl spots and 10 boy spots. This means that some children are going to have no place to go. Apparently, it was brought to a higher authority that Oatlands should add on and go up to grade 7. This is cause for a lot of argument. Many teachers don’t want it to go higher then Prep(which is grade 3), but others know that the kids have nowhere to go after this. Tricky tricky. This has been going on since 2010.
            Let’s see what else. I am pretty much doing reading groups and maths groups right now. My teacher is doing one or the other at the same time. I also help the kids with spelling and make sure they are on track. I am starting to write lesson plans and have the rest of my 6 weeks planned out! Everything is still going great! Week 2 is almost over which is crazy!
            Oh yea. So there is no air-conditioning here so the windows are constantly open. So on Monday when I got home from school, my whole bedroom was covered in flies! They were babies that just hatched. So I had to go on a killing spree. Then last night when I went to bed I saw 2 spiders crawling on the wall. I look up above the shower and there is about 70 little baby spiders that also just hatched! WHAT THE HECK?! I seriously screamed, cried, and got goose bumps! Bah. So I went to bed without doing anything, and when I got up in the morning there was only about 15 left. Not sure where they went. So I sprayed and now I think the problem is fixed haha

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Holy cow! It has been 1 week!

Wed Jan 25th
Today was a busy day. First grades 2 and 3 meet to practice/make perfect the Oatlands song. I got to learn it too. I would tell it to you but umm yea I kind of forget it already. The tune is definately in my head, but only bits and pieces of the song are coming to me. It’s late haha We learned more about bullying. I helped the children with spelling and putting words in their dictionaries. I also watched how to do maths(this is right. They call it maths not math haha). Today they worked on place value in a very cool way! But it’s too hard to explain haha. They also did bridging in a different way. Example for the equation 9 + 4 it was broken down as so xxxxxxxxx oooo. They circled 10 so the 9 x’s and 1 o would be circled. Below that would be (9 + 1) + 3. Then below that would be 10+3 and below that would be 13. This is so that when they add another number it will be easier to see. She made a word problem to go with this. The children are also working on counting by 3’s and 4’s as well as flash cards with basic addition facts. Maths are done based on ability. The groups have about 11 children in them and we meet on the floor. The other children are reading and working in their books.
Today was also hot dog day. The children are required to pack a healthy lunch every day but for R10 they can get hotdogs on Weds and for R20 cupcakes on Fri. Apparently some children took hot dogs that they didn’t pay for so we had a miscount. I had to go down and make the hot dogs in the microwave hahaha, but no worries I saved the day. Next Wed we are doing it a different way to make sure that only the children that paid get them. During lunch 2 children offered me some of their food. One was called a cheddar. It is almost like a cheddar pancake and I have NO idea what the other thing was. It was almost like a fruit roll up and it tasted kind of like orange? Anyway I’m not sure if I would say they were my favorite, but hey nothing wrong with trying new food.
After school I watched the tap class. The day before I told the kids I would go down so today when I was five minutes late they were looking for me haha. I went to the teachers’ lounge right before to get water and apparently all the girls and boy(but as of today boys) were looking for me. The class is soooo good! They have rhythm. I can’t wait to do it every Wednesday. The teacher wants me to show her some moves : )
After I got home I took a long nap. I am so worn out! Student teaching takes a lot out of you. This weekend I plan on going to Port Alfred. I’m very excited to do more exploring! It has a ton of pretty beaches!
Sunday Jan 30th
So I forgot to post the pervious post so I am just going to add on the weekend. A week has gone by! How crazy is that? The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. I started teaching reading groups. That is a challenge. Big groups, lots of noise and it’s way different than how we do it in the states. I worked with a lower level maths group and got addition with double digits to click! I was so excited and all the kids were excited to work with me and told me I was a good teacher. I also taught my first lesson! It went fantastic! I did it on bullying. I was given a worksheet, but I decided to make everything on the sheet interactive. The teacher thought it went great and she told me she learned good teaching strategies from me. I had the kids come up to the front of the room a lot, which they loved. The students are starting to warm up to me and respect me. I love the school and feel like I am fitting in great.
This weekend we went out to the movies and saw Sherlock Holmes. It was a great movie, BUT there were a lot of high school/middle school boarding students there that talked the whole time. After the movie we went to the Rat and Parrot(a bar where the college kids hang). Even though the college kids aren’t back yet there were still a few there. A few guys came up to us and we chatted. They were super nice. Today(Sunday) we ran into them again after we went to the Botanical Gardens. They invited us to a Game Park next weekend and took down our professor’s number (since we don’t have phones yet) haha. They are really nice and it is cool to actually have friends! So yea today we went to the Botanical Gardens. It was so pretty and peaceful. We had lunch there. We took a path that took us to the top of the mountain and the view was spectacular. I will try to post pictures to my blog asap. I am having trouble with that at the moment. It was sooooo hot today so after we did the gardens( we only saw half because it was so big) we went to the Delizza and got some smoothies and pizza. We then ventured home and have been relaxing ever since. I got some sun and am super tired. Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. I have been so busy, which is a good thing : ) Still loving it here, but starting to miss home. I skyped my parents and cats today haha : ) My skype is SeanBrown13 so add me! I would love to talk to you!
Sean

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

What's it like in America?

I don’t even know where to start haha. I learned so much more about my students today! I brought in pictures from home to share so during reading time each group came to me and I told them about myself and Ohio/America and they asked me questions. I asked them their names and tried my best to pronounce them. One child I could not get so the whole class was coaching me haha All of them thought that I lived next store to someone famous. Sorry guys not in Hudson Ohio haha. One girl asked me to do her one favor. She told me I had to promise her. I told her I can’t promise, but I will try and help. She then asked pretty pretty please if I could take her back to America with me. She is the same girl from yesterday that I talked with after school. The kids were amazed that it was snowing and that it took me 2 days to get here. I showed them on the map where I lived and where they lived. I explained to them that I flew to London which was seven hours then to South Africa which was 12. They were also VERY interested in school balls/dances. This is probably because their first one is coming up.
The hardest part about today was control. There are 35 children and they are a rowdy bunch. I watched the full day and took lots of notes so when I start teaching full time I know how the teacher deals with discipline and to make sure I use the right terms so they understand me haha
The most exciting part of the day was that the children had lessons in Xhosa (which as some clicks) and Afrikaans(2 of 11 languages spoken in South Africa.) I learned along with them. It was sooo cool. Xhosa was harder because it moved fast and was taught by another teacher who came to the room. Afrikaans was taught by my mentor teacher and they were learning words like kat, man, and can. They are the same in English, but the /a/ is pronounced differently. Some words that are different are jas which is jacket, lap which is cloth, nat, which is wet, and dak which is roof. Tomorrow I am helping out with tap dancing class after school! I am soooo EXCITED!! I have tapped since age three. I actually talked to the teacher who is doing it. She is a grade three teacher. She said she has an extra pair of tap shoes and she has never taught tap before so she would love for me to help! I also will be teaching my first lesson on Friday over bullying : )
After school we went up town. I got a cell phone and we made friends with the girl who was selling the phones. She said to come back and she could show us all the good places to go! Yea She also gave me a discount because I was friendly and talked to her about America for a while : ) She asked if President Obama was the same as on TV. She wondered if his ears were really that big haha. I told her I have never seen him in person. She was shocked. She then asked about the white house. And was shocked when I told her I haven’t been there either. After I got my cell phone we bought groceries and had Professor Baxen(the lady I am staying with) pick us up so we didn’t have to walk all that way with a lot of groceries. Holly and I looked up South African recipes and bought the ingredients to make them. Yummy! We made a cucumber-zucchini salad. Oh yea they don’t have Zucchini in South Africa. Well they do, but it’s called morrow(or something like that). I had to ask 2 people who worked in the store and luckily a lady who over heard me asking knew what I was talking about. The one boy who was putting fruit away gave me a strange look after I found it and told me to say the name again again so I did then he asked what language it was because he had never heard of it before haha. Then in the checkout line we had two ladies ask us what it was hahahaha. Oh boy. We are silly Americans : ).
I am very proud of myself for adjusting so well. I am the one who asks the questions whether it be for directions, explanations, ect and I am doing just fine : ) Not to mention the people are very friendly and for the most part able to understand me with my accent. Even if they don’t I try my best to explain a different way and most of the time they can help haha
Day two went great : ) The children are just as goofy here as they are back home. They even thought it was funny that Ms. Brown had a Brown stapler. I haven’t heard that one before ; ) I still cannot believe I am here in South Africa teaching African children. Some of which speak little English! I am so blessed that I am able to do this!

Monday, 23 January 2012

1st day=AMAZING

I don’t know where to begin. Today was the first day of school and it was amazing. They started out downstairs for assembly. This happens every Monday. The kid’s line up, by class and the teachers are in the front. Today I walked in with the principal. When the principal walks in everyone is quiet. They greet the principal and teachers by saying, “Good morning Mrs….Good morning Mrs…and so on”  I got introduced and when she said what class I was in all the students in my class said YESSSS and got very excited. After the children sat down they sang a song and prayed the Our Father. When that was finished they had a mini lesson on movies and how things in the movies are not real. If someone gets shot they are still really alive and how behavior that we see in movies is not acceptable at recess because it is dangerous and someone can really get hurt.
When we got to class I introduced myself. All the children were amazed that I was from America and that it was snowing! I watched the students for a little and called them up one by one to measure them in centimeters. After that I then took them out one at a time to do reading level tests. They are actually reading ages rather than levels. When I came in she had different groups, some were reading some were doing math bundles and others were at their seat. I am sure tomorrow I will really get a chance to see what they were doing. I love that I actually did work today! Most of my students are black and English is not their first language. It is a little bit of a barrier, but I am sure I will overcome it quickly : )
There are 2 breaks during the day. The children eat lunch during the first one in the classroom. There is no cafeteria and each student must pack a lunch. I went down to the teachers area. Most teachers ate fruit and drank tea. During the second break the teachers are free to do whatever. After the second break I was in charge of having the students copy the homework that was on the board and have them get packed up and lined up for dance. This was a scary task. There are 34 children in my class! Lots of names to memorize and half of them I cannot pronounce. Well anyway I did it successfully without supervision. I was proud of myself haha  One girl came up to me and gave  me a BIG hug and wanted to be with me the rest of the day.
So apparently there is a grade 3 ball so the children are learning how to Waltz and another kind of dance but I forget what it’s called haha. SO CUTE! The boys and girls were on different sides of the room. The girls were taught backward and the boys forward. I had to help some of them out. So fun! They practiced 1,2,3 all the way up and down the hall. When the bell rang the students were dismissed for home. On the way out they got sprayed with a squirt bottle. It’s so hot!
After class got out I chatted with my teacher. On the way out I had to walk to the gate and one of my students was out there so I said bye to her. She followed me and said “Ms Brown if you love to dance why don’t you try out for So You Think You Can Dance?”  I had t explain to her that I am not THAT good haha and we talked a little more about tv shows.  So after that I said goodbye again and had to walk to the other side of the gate because I didn’t know how to get out. She stayed up there and about a minute later ran up to me and gave me a huge hug!
My first day was fantastic. I am so excited to go back tomorrow and spend six weeks in this school. I know it is going to go by so fast, but I hope not to fast!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The end of a great first weekend!

Today was fun! I am finally getting use to the way to go to town so we have started taking different routes. Everything closes at 13:00 hours on the weekend so we didnt get to go into too many places, but we shopped around a little. Holly got this awesome dress for 10 us dollars! It’s so pretty! I loved looking at all the shoes. They have some nice sandals so I think I am going to buy some for teaching. We got smoothies at the place we went to yesterday Delizzia. It was the only thing open. I got a tasty Apple and Raspberry smoothie! yuumm. We ran into one of Professor Baxens friends we meet yesterday. She came and said hi to us and introduced us to her daughter. They were both so nice! See day one and we already know some locals.

When we got home we both took naps .Oh so I have a set of keys. There are 4 keys. Back door, 2 front, and one random. Today professor Baxen had to drop her son off at the airport so I was in charge of locking up and setting up the alarm system. It took us a while, but we got it! haha
After we took our naps we made dinner in the flat. It was good. We made rice, veggies, and steak. We mixed it with a bunch of spices that were left over. When we finished with dinner we talked to Professor about teaching and tomorrow. I am in a public school that use to be all white but now blacks are allowed. It is a public school and in my school for a lot of children English is not their first language spoken. I am beyond excited but so nervous at the same time. School starts at 7:30 and is out by 1ish and then we do extracurricular which are normally ball skills and I should be back at the house by 3. I get to pick which one I get to help with. So pumped!
Well now I just got out of the shower. I am drinking tea and about to go to bed. I have a big day tomorrow!

gnight!
Sean

Oh also I got some sun today! haha

Saturday, 21 January 2012

We went exploring...

Today I went exploring. We got lost about 3 times, BUT we managed to find where we were going every time haha. We walked uptown for the afternoon. On the way we passed our schools. I cannot wait for Monday! It is so hilly and so pretty. English is not the first language here. There is actually over 11 different ones spoken in Grahamstown! Crazy, but soooo cool.  Uptown we went to the grocery store. There are some many new things I want to try! It is about 80 degrees heren so after we got back from our day of exploring we hung out and waited for dinner. Professor Baxens son is going to college in the sates so she made a last meal for him. Fish, pasta, and salad. So tasty.
After dinner I skyped my aunt and uncle. I also I got to talk to their cat, dog and 3 neighbors. I loved it! It felt like I was at home with them : ) The only request my cousin Bonnie has is to get a nice picture of a lion and Phillip wants me to get a picture of a Wessel haha I love them!  I also gave them a tour of the house and they got to meet my professor!! Skype is awesome! After that I talked to my parents they got the tour and met my proff also. I got to say hi to my 3 cats. Home got so much snow! Crazy!
Tomorrow the plan is to walk back uptown and rent a phone and look at some shops. The shops close at 1 so we didn’t have time today because it took us 1hr 30mins to get there by foot when it should have taken 15 20. We are also going up to Port Elizabeth(PE) to drop her son off at the airport. We plan on doing some shopping also. So she said on the drive from PE to here she was surprised I didn’t see any wild game like giraffe or zebra so I am excited to hopefully see some tomorrow! I love it here! Welp that’s about it!
Sean

Friday, 20 January 2012

I have arrived!

I am officially at my final destination!! The long flight was not too bad. I switched my seat so no one was sitting next to me : ) I watched Moneyball, My Sisters Keeper, and some documentary on tigers. I think 12 hours is my limit on a plane haha I was so antsy to get off. I slept the whole 1 hour flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. No joke I was asleep before takeoff and woke up when we hit the ground. After I landed I got my luggage and looked for my shuttle. I found my shuttle and was on my merry way to the awesome little town of Grahamstown. Oh my gosh the drive was soo pretty! Later when I was talking with my advisor she asked if I saw any big game. She said there are normally Zebras and Giraffe! Sadly I didn’t see any. I actually fell asleep for most of the drive. I didn’t mean to: ( haha
So I got to the house and no one was there so I waited with the shuttle guy and called my supervisor( I am staying at her house). She told me someone should be there so I had to wait a little, but all was good. Instead of staying at the flat which is attached I am staying in the main house. I have my own room. The house is pretty cool! There is no air conditioning, but all the windows and doors(besides the front are left open). There is a nice backyard. There is a cool garden, lots of bird feeders and a futon that is covered by a patio so its great for outside lounging. I think I am going to be spending a lot of time there : ) It is nice to be in nice weather and get some fresh air. Apparently I missed a huge snow storm back home?! Looks like I’m going to miss most of winter. Darn ; )
After I got settled in Dr. Baxen drove us  uptown and treated us to dinner at the Yellow Door which is  a cute little restaurant. We all got Calamari.  I came home showered, skyped some people and now I am writing this haha. Leave me your skype if you want! Mine is SeanBrown13!
Grahamstown is a small town. It is old and very hilly. The views are pretty cool. You look outside and you can see the hills! Pictures will come! I plan on doing a historic tour tomorrow and walking around and exploring. I cannot believe that I am here! I am getting use to Military time. It is not hard to figure out, but it is hard to process. I need to count on my fingers. Ummm I am sure there is lots more I need to tell you guys, but I am too sleepy to remember haha
Lots of Love,
Sean

Thursday, 19 January 2012

And the Adventure Begins

Hey guys,
I am currently staying at Yotel in London’s Heathrow airport. It is so cool! It is like a tiny time room with a bed, tv, sink, shower, toilet, mirror and table all in one! I tried to take a pic, but it’s so compacted I couldn’t get it all in. The bed is built into the wall and the tv is at the foot of the bed in the wall. Its very interesting, but such a good idea considering my layover is 8 hours. I left Cleveland at 7pm, got to Chicago, and 6:59pm I believe? Weird I know with the time change haha and I got to London at about 11:15am. So it was a 1 hour flight followed by a 7 hour, now a 8 hour layover followed by a 12 hour flight to Cape Town then 2 hour flight to Port Elizabeth and FINALLY a 1 hr 30 min shuttle to my final destination Grahamstown South Africa!! I will be arriving around 2pm their time which is about 7am your time( 7 hour time difference).

Well any who travels have been go so far. No one sat next to me on either flight(lucky I know) so I got to spread out. There was a lot of bad turbulence on this last flight and it scared me because I was sleeping and would wake up because of it! I  Had to ask a ton of questions to find this place haha this airport as a lot of looooonnnnnngggggg "hall" ways to get to your destination, but they are all glass so you can see outside! This airport is HUGE! I had to go through customs. So I got a London stamp on my passport. YES!

I am still nervous about traveling, meeting my supervisor, mentor teacher and students, but I am sooo beyond excited! Words can’t even describe the feeling!! I hope to update this blog as much as possible including pictures of my adventures so make sure to check in and save the link!

Well I am going and try and take a quick nap.  I don’t want to sleep to long, but at the same time I have a KILLER headache because I have only slept 2 hours in the past 24 haha.
Thanks so much for all the support you guys are giving me!
Sean