Well vacation is officially over. There were rumors that the holiday would be extended in order to give the census people more time to collect information but they decided to start now since this last term was already the shortest. It has been a pretty fantastic holiday- a trip to Tanzania, almost two weeks with my sister and mom, and a week of GLOW camp with an amazing group of young women.
Today I stayed home in bed since I had a fever and sore throat so my first official week of school is finished because tomorrow is my day off. In some ways it was wonderful. I forgot over holiday just how much I love my students. They are funny and caring and really do try hard to participate in my class. In some ways I also forgot how frustrating it is to teach and how much I hate dealing with groups of kids who refuse to quit talking and a class schedule that never runs on time. There has also been a decent amount of drama at my school considering we are only four days into third term. All workers in Rwanda have been asked to contribute part of their salary to some type of government fund so the teachers are not so pleased about that development and one of the male teachers at my school cut some of the children’s hair, without permission from anyone, in the middle of classes.
I was writing notes on the board and he came in and asked me to stop teaching. I put my chalk down and watched in horror as he stomped angrily through my classroom searching for children who had “long hair.” By long hair I mean that they do not have their heads shaved so they had maybe a couple inches of hair. He did not cut it all off, just a section in the middle that made them look ridiculous enough to ensure that they would have to shave their heads. Some of the kids laughed, some cried, and I stood awkwardly watching from the front of the room. As he walked out he lectured them about not needing “wigs” to study and then stormed out of the room. As it turns out he didn’t have permission from anyone to do this and my headmistress was not very happy with his self-initiated disciplinary actions. Can you imagine if a teacher did this in America? I was blown away by how the kids just let him use an enormous pair of scissors to chop some of their hair off. No questions asked because he was an authority figure. Apparently serious students do not have hair- another teacher told me that the minister of education announced this fact on the radio last week which is interesting. It was also ironic because I was teaching a lesson on emotions during all of this and was then tempted to add a scenario to one of my activities that asked them to describe their emotions when a teacher cuts your hair without asking you. Obviously I couldn’t do this but I can imagine their answers.
Teaching about emotions has been extremely interesting. In Rwanda, whenever you ask someone how they are in English, the response is always, “I am fine.” This response never changes and it drives me crazy so my goal has been to teach them at least a few new ways to respond to me. After we learned the new vocabulary I split each class into six groups and gave each group a piece of paper with five new emotions listed on it and they were responsible for writing three times when you would feel each particular emotion. It was really difficult for some of the kids but the ones who understood the assignment did a really nice job. Here are some examples of what the groups came up with:
– When you have good marks
– If you have birthday
– When you succeed national exam
– When you have answer but is not correct and other students laughing you
– When your parents beat you
– The death of a parent
– I tell you I am kill you
– Your place in class is last
– Someone in your family is died
– We have bad marks in school
– Don’t eating food
– We have not parent
– My parents beat me
– When you seek (contract) AIDS
– Don’t eating food
– Bad marks
– Parents beating me
– Don’t eat food
– When there is no food
– When there is no money for school fees
– When there is no clothes
– When you think you can be one day doctor or teacher
-Think of future
– He has good car and you haven’t but wish it
– He has good shoes and you haven’t it
I found it interesting (and depressing) that they were able to better articulate situations for the negative emotions as opposed to happier ones. The common theme seemed to be a lack of food and parents beating them when it came to negative emotions. Some of the happier emotions like ecstatic and confident also ended up being assigned to groups who didn’t really understand the assignment and gave really weird and random answers despite my numerous attempts to feed them examples. I guess you win some and you lose some.
Last night the nuns had a party to welcome a new priest that arrived this week. My headmistress informed me at lunch that there would be an extra mass and dinner would be late. I started to feel really tired and achy after lunch and could tell that I was coming down with something so I decided to eat early. I was planning on just eating some bread and fruit but one of the older nuns, sister Claire, was horrified by that idea and immediately went into the kitchen to see if any of the party food was ready. She returned with a plate of rice, peas, and carrots and I was grateful that she made me eat real food. For that 20 minutes I felt like a small child that the parents feed before they have guests over. I sat at the table eating while they prepared for the night, folding napkins and arranging flowers while singing prayers in Kinyarwanda. A new nun would occasionally walk by and ask why I was eating early, making sure to stop and check my forehead for any signs of fever while carefully smoothing my hair back and tucking any stray hairs behind my ears. It felt nice to be taken care of and after dinner I took a quick bucket bath, found some medicine for my fever in my Peace Corps medical box, and was under the covers watching Father of the Bride at 6:30pm. I think they ended up eating around 9pm so I was glad I decided to eat early even if it meant missing a party. Being sick is never fun so I am grateful to have the nuns watching out for me- it is such a blessing to have 10 Mommas to take care of me!
I think that is all of my updates for now! Here are a few cute pictures from the orphanage this week. The kids had a late lunch on Monday so they didn’t go to rest before library time so I had four different kiddos fall asleep reading. I managed to get pictures of Claude and Patrick- such cuties! 🙂