Monday, October 10, 2011

The Grand Opening

Last Sunday was an exciting event as students, parents, teachers, and even the village pets gathered in front of the brand new kindergarten building for its grand opening ceremony. That morning, Ileah and I helped clean up the yard in front of school along with the other villagers and hired help. And by cleaning up the yard, I mean using our hands as rakes to pick up fallen leaves since there weren’t enough yard tools. Everyone was busy finishing up last minute touches. The ceremony started around 1:30 that afternoon and as I made my way over to the school, I could feel a sense of merriment, anticipation and pride from crowd. Songs were sung, speeches made, traditional ceremonial practices preformed and finally the pink ribbon cut by Dr.Fekede. Although classes didn’t officially begin until the next morning, the teachers decided to teach that day after the ceremony because the parents had already prepared their children for a formal school day.
The kindergarten building is divided into three classrooms. On the left is what they call the lower KG (around age 5-6), on the right is the upper KG( age 6-7), and in between is the nursery (ages 3-4). (The ages are just estimates). Occasionally, I will go in and observe the teaching style of the teachers (which usually consist of shouting out the lessons and having the students shout back in response at ear splitting decibels) and reading stories to the children during break time. Because I am not allow to formally teach school here since I don’t hold a teaching license, I have to find creative ways to be helpful which is proving to be challenging since the teachers pretty much got it covered. Dr. Fekede told us that our role is simply to mingle with the students and that we are making a difference with just our presence and although I would like to believe that, I still struggle with feeling as though I’m not accomplishing much.
Dr. Fekede returned to the States last Friday leaving Ileah and I the only Americans on the compound however, he plans on coming back after Christmas and spending 6 weeks here. For the time being, we are operating somewhat by ourselves in terms of what we choose to do daily.

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