Friday, January 27, 2012

Puzzles and Coloring Books

Our standard 1 class this year has 120 students and only 2 teachers. It's like a circus of tiny babies in there. Well some are babies, some look to be around 12 years old and still mix up the only 2 english words they know, "hiiii" and "byeee." I've spent the past couple of days visiting these classes for about an hour or two, teaching them how to do jigsaw puzzles and helping the teacher prepare coloring materials for the class. In addition to being understaffed this year, we are also underfunded. No new materials for 120 standard 1 students. No photocopy machine either, so we have resorted to tracing old coloring pages 120 times so the students have something to do during the day.  

A few kids have taken to following me home after school. The same kids who used to visit before, but now they're 1.5 years older, less neurotic, and I can communicate with them better. I've been in a good mood lately, so I gave 2 girls some water and they sang and bounced around in their cups like I'd just given them the cure for cancer. They came back the next day, and then the next. On day I said no, not today. They begged and begged. Finally, one pulled out a small coin, 10 thebe (about 1.5 american cents), "I will buy water ! I want to buy water!" I laughed. Why not do a little role playing? "Sure" and I took the 10 thebe coin. They danced around again, screaming happily. "3 cups!!" she demanded from me. One for each little girl on my porch. So I got them 3 cups and a pitcher and they sipped happily exclaiming how good the water was. 

I realized this morning that as much as I cringe from the pitter patter of feet on the concrete patio, as much as I hate venturing out in the sun to shut the gate that they always leave open and unlocked, as much as I hate being woken up from a nap by a small boy in my backyard drinking from my tap, I'm going to miss their shrill voices.

Standing in a hot sweaty afternoon classroom with 60 kids, watching them stare at a Hannah Montana jigsaw puzzle for the first time in their lives, play with the pieces, discover its edges, its dips, its handles, its colors. Watching them 10 minutes later fit their first pieces together. 1 hour later, one of the groups had finished their puzzle and then went on to undo it and redo it 3 more times... It was nice. Even if, when I left, they sang to me in an itty bitty chorus, "Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii"

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