Today was my last day at Chris Nissen, and I made sure to live it up as much as possible! I walked into the teacher’s lounge and into their staff meeting once again. It was a little hectic, as always, but in the amount of time that the remainder of the meeting lasted I was able to find out some very important information. Tom informed me that during the staff meeting last Friday the principal announced that the program was going to be cancelled, but he didn’t give a legitimate reason why. I guess after he made the announcement the other teachers threw a fit and said that it was unfair to me and to the students that the program would be cancelled, especially the day of. So the entire staff stood up for me. Although I was initially angry beyond belief that he wanted to cancel the program, I was incredibly grateful to the staff for standing up for me. Obviously it worked!
I thoroughly enjoyed my final assembly. The kids all sang beautifully, it was once again amazing to watch all of these kids and teachers pray together and worship together, and I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and love for everyone who I have met here and everything that I have learned from this culture.
I didn’t really teach any classes today. It was more of a day to wrap everything up, say goodbye to everyone, and try to learn as much as I could from everyone before I left. So for all of the classes that I had today I had the students teach me some things. One class taught me a whole entire page of new isiXhosa words, another class taught me several traditional Xhosa dances, and the last class taught me a traditional Xhosa lullaby. I had an absolute blast learning all of these new things! The dances were difficult, especially because I was wearing a skirt and many of them required high kicking, but they were definitely fun. I made the mistake of asking the kids what the words to the songs we were dancing to meant. Unfortunately, I will never be able to teach them in my future classes. One of the songs literally translated to “You don’t know what you want. You want my hand. You want my heart. You want my breasts.” So, after that I stopped asking what I was conveying in the dances and just had fun with it instead. In return for their kindness in teaching me the dances, I taught them some dances too. I taught them how to do the Macarena, which we did making the sounds from the song with our voices hehe. Then I taught them the Electric Slide, which was hilarious and beyond fun too!
So after I learned and taught some awesome dances it was time for lunch. Ms. Myo and Ms. Javu sent me outside and told me to stay there until they came out to get me. When it was time to come in I was completely blown away by what they had prepared for me! There was all kinds of food, a present for me on the table, and all of the staff members were there to wish me farewell. We had cake, South African candies, chips (as in actual chips, or as they call them here crisps), and milktart, which is a traditional South African desert that is beyond delicious. I was overwhelmed by their kindness. The principal spoke first. He told me that he was very grateful to me for coming to Chris Nissen and that I must tell my husband thank you for letting me do this. In this culture that is a big deal, but I had to smother a giggle because it was me who basically forced Aaron into letting us do this together He also said that he has always wanted to teach in America and that he has applied many times but has obviously never gotten a job there. I was sitting there thinking, dream on Mr. you wouldn’t last a day teaching in America. It is sad how little he cares about his school. When he was done talking he told one of the other teachers to take a picture of him and me so he could take it back home and make up lies about it. Let me tell you, I barely smiled in that picture. I was too weirded out. Mrs. Bam spoke next. I was still surprised that she even addressed me last Friday, but I was even more surprised that she asked to speak today at my going away party. She told me to thank my family for lending me to their school and their country for such a long time, and she said that I had truly made an impact on their school in the time that I had been there. She said that I had a positive aura around me all of the time, one of kindness and willingness to do anything. She said that I had energy and a willingness to always help and do anything for the learners. Lastly, Ms. James spoke. She said that she could not be happy today, only sad, because she was going to miss me. She said that she had learned so much from me and that she was going to use what she learned in her classes all of the time now. Then she gave me the gift from the teaching staff. It was very funny because she actually stood there and opened the gift for me then handed it to me. They got me a very nice stainless-steel travel mug. I absolutely love it. What a thoughtful and wonderful gift for a world traveler! I can’t wait to use it. Ms. James said that she hopes I will think of them every time that I use it, and I can guarantee that I definitely will. It was my turn to say something now. I stood up and told the teachers thank you for making me feel welcome at their school and in their country. I acknowledged that that isn’t always an easy thing to do, but that it was much appreciated. Then I summoned all of my courage and I basically said, “My hope as I leave today is that all of you realize how blessed you are to have the job of educating the future of your country and of the world. I hope that you also all realize how important this job is, and I hope that you are passionate about it and that you love it even when it gets tough. Every little life out there is an integral part of your culture, your society, our world, and our future, and giving them a positive and full education is one of the most important tasks that we can be given as human beings. I hope that you have learned as much from me as I have learned from you and your students; and I hope that some of my passion and love for teaching stays here with you always.” Ms. Javu actually yelled, “Yes!” in the middle of my talk. She told me later that she was so touched by my talk and hoped that it would help make the staff at Chris Nissen work together instead of against one another towards what was most important, the kids. It was such a fun afternoon, and I really enjoyed my time with the staff. I felt so loved and I felt like I truly helped and made a difference to them while I was there. All of them thanked me for doing the program and said that they were impressed with the performances and that they had learned more about how to plan and carry out a program in the future.
I enjoyed the rest of my day relaxing and talking with the students. I presented the new schedule that I have been working on to Ms. Myo and Ms. Javu and they were both ecstatic about it. I actually saw them showing it to Mrs. Bam before I left for the day, so I am hoping that they will at least take it into consideration and make some changes to the awful schedule that they now have. Tom is going to let me know how it goes because he is going to be there for three more months. I also completed a book of song lyrics of all of the songs that I taught the kids while I was here to leave with Ms. James. When the school day ended I sadly gave out hugs to every child that I saw and left the building. I left in the best way possible. I am happy about my experience, and I feel like it was completely worthwhile and that I made a true difference there. I connected with new people and a new culture, and I learned so much, shared so much, and am leaving full of happy memories.
Sharon drove me up to Dorothy Broster after we got back from school so I could say hi to Esteline and Nicolene. As we were driving through the township we saw Esteline walking on the side of the road with a few other kids from Dorothy Broster. They were on their way to the library, so I jumped out of the van and walked with them. Esteline immediately jumped into my arms and planted a huge kiss on my cheek. I don’t know how I am going to communicate to her that I am leaving. Her English is not good enough to understand me all of the time. I didn’t worry about it today though. We just had fun today instead. I gave the kids the books that Lydia Middleton sent and read through almost all of them with them. I had almost every child at the library either on my back, my lap, perched above my shoulders, or huddled next to me to read the books. It was beyond awesome and fun. It made me wonder though how often these kids have books read to them. Judging by their reaction today I don’t think that it happens very often. We all had a good time though, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading to them.
This morning we had to say goodbye to Uriel. He left at 2am to head back to Holland. Ayesha is leaving tomorrow, and then of course Aaron and I are leaving on Wednesday. It seems strange that we are all dispersing so quickly. To celebrate one last night out for Ayesha, Aaron, and myself we went to a Mozambique restaurant called Catembe for dinner with Tom, Nicole, and Lauren. The restaurant and the food were both amazing, although some of us did have to work for our food Lauren and I couldn’t decide what to eat, so we shared two dinners: chicken peri-peri and crab curry. They were both absolutely delicious!! Tom also ordered the crab curry, and this is where the work came in. Lauren and Tom had never had crab before, and they were both quite surprised to find out that you had to crack open the shell with a tool to get to the yummy meat inside. We all made a huge mess, and Tom struggled big time to get to his. It was definitely a fun experience with lots of laughs and curry and crab juice everywhere! We also tried a Mozambique drink there called catembe. This consists of red wine mixed with Coke! It was surprisingly tasty. Sharon said that it is a great way to get rid of bad red wine