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!

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!


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!

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,

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!