A Renewal of Faith


After a pretty rough week in the classroom I wanted a fun activity for my Thursday classes. Earlier in the year I received a shipment of white boards and dry erase markers from my fabulous Mama Brodie and decided that today would be the perfect day to start using them. I cannot even start to describe how much the kids loved using them! I started class with a quick demo and a few rules since I wanted to make sure they didn’t use their pens to write on them and of course the daily reminder to keep my pens out of their mouths (yes this is a necessary reminder- a few good crayons have faced an untimely death in the mouth of a student). I wasn’t sure what to use for erasers so I ended up bringing a roll of toilet paper (pretty classy-I know) and handing out a few squares to each students. It wasn’t the best choice so I need to figure out a better solution eventually but toilet paper worked just fine for now. I wish I had a video of the kid’s faces when I showed them how the marker erases with a simple swipe of toilet paper- they thought it was pure magic and the coolest thing they have ever seen. I handed out the markers and boards and gave them a few minutes to just experiment and play around. This type of liberty is a foreign concept to them and they always get really nervous when I don’t provide specific instructions. So here is how this conversation went down:

Me: You may have 3 minutes to write and draw on you board

Student #1: Teacher, what do we write?

Me: It is your choice. Whatever you want.

Student #1 (looking uncomfortable with this response): I write my name?

Me: Sure, you can write your name.

Student #2: Teacher, we write both names?

Me: It is your choice. You have time to practice now. You can draw a picture if you want.

Student #1: We draw a house?

Me: If you want. It is your choice.

Student #3: Teacher, we must draw house?

Me: You can write or draw whatever you want. It is your choice.

Student #4 (Sitting across the room): Teacher, what do I write?

At this point I ended free time and gave them instructions for what to practice writing. Sometimes the freedom to choose is just too overwhelming for them!

Once they got the hang of things we played a game to review opposites. I would write a word on the board and they had to write the opposite and hold their board up for me to see. They love competitions and it was really funny to watch them try to write as quickly as possible. They struggle spelling in English when they have an entire period to write so a pressure situation produced some very creative spellings. They really enjoyed this game but I eventually ran out of opposites so we played a game I have named “The Translation Game.” Here is how it is played: I write a word on the board in Kinyarwanda and they must write the same word, but in English, on their board. It worked pretty well plus they relished the opportunity to correct my spelling and pronunciation of words in Kinyarwanda. I also discovered some random words that they didn’t know in English. The final list of words they couldn’t translate included:

Igihaza- pumpkin

Inanasi- pineapple

Ibyondo- mud

Ubutunguru- onions

It was interesting to see their various reactions when they couldn’t translate a word. Some groups would write the word in French, some would try to draw a picture, and some would just write totally random words in hopes that it might be close. It was a fantastic way to end the week and I am so grateful to Mama Brodie for thinking to send the boards and markers! I am extremely grateful and so are my students!

Here are some other random updates:

– This morning on the ride into Kigali I had to sit in the very back of the bus which is always a little scary and very uncomfortable. The girl next to me was a student, maybe about 14, and I could tell she wasn’t feeling well. Part way through the ride she started to shake and all the sudden the seat was very warm- and very wet. I am not really sure if she had a little seizure and that is why she was shaking and lost control of her bladder or maybe she had just been holding it for a really long time. Either way my skirt was soaked in this girl’s urine and I needed to find an alternative solution so I didn’t have to wear it all day. I told the woman at the post office about my situation and she was properly horrified and informed one the men hanging around the post office that he was to escort me to the nearest clothing shop. It turned out to be about a 10 minute walk from the bus station and the guy helped me find a skirt and waited with me for the entire process. Of course they had nothing long enough so I ended up buying fabric to wrap around my waist. It looks horrible. I might just wash my skirt in a sink and wear it wet. So anyways this guy then walked me back and expected nothing in return for his kindness. I am very grateful for the kindness of strangers here!

– I got a letter today that my mom sent on February 4th. There is a stamp on the envelope that says “Missent to Thailand.” I guess it has been on quite the adventure

– I ran into a friend, Providence, while I was walking on the dirt road to get a bus. She was coming to visit me at the convent and both she and her daughter were all dressed up and sad that I was going to Kigali for the day. She has my number so I explained maybe next time she could shoot me a quick text to make sure I would be there. The concept of visiting friends is very different here- there is no advanced warning and the expect you to be home all the time!

– Next week the students are required to take a quiz for each subject. I am still confused about the format of the schedule because the students have 2.5 hours to take my quiz… that seems excessive. I asked my headmistress and she told me I needed to write “many questions” so that it would take up the whole time. Since we have been working on paragraph writing that will be the majority of the quiz which means these quizzes will take me forever to grade. I also assumed that I wouldn’t have to be at school for all the days of “quiz week” but it turns out I still have to go and supervise students taking the quizzes which is 100 times worse than teaching. My headmistress also informed me last night at dinner that they have added an extra week to the term- the good news keeps on coming!

Since I have fast internet today here are some other random photos:

My beautiful backyard

For the kid’s autobiographies they had to draw a picture of their house. They are very serious about drawing and many are talented artists. Here are few examples-

And finally one last shot from Kibuye (aka paradise):


One response »

  1. My mom uses these with her 1st graders in the US, her “eraser” has always been an old sock. It doubles as a little pocket for the markers!

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