Monday, May 19, 2008


two days in a row? nice!

as you know, i was VERY excited to go to work this morning. we were dropped off around 915. it was only the four of us. crystle, laura, liz and myself. dr. fish and dr. triplett went with the other groups to their first day and an important meeting the Stepping Stones group had. so we were on our own!

the entire school is outside, there is no "building", just rows of classes. i can't think of a school at home that looks like it but i hope you get the idea until i get some pictures. we drove through the barbed wire gate and got out of the van. walked through the front hallway and ran into Swallows, he informed us that the internet was down. oh no! my mind started racing; thinking about what i was going to do all day. if i couldn't get on the internet i couldn't do ANY work that needed to get done. we went into the teacher work room and sat down to wait for alex and pumi because we were supposed to meet with them to see what we would be doing for the day. alex came in a few minutes later to talk to us. she didn't have much work for us to do because she had to turn in her portfolio tomorrow and was busy with that. we looked through a few text books and scanned over some papers for about 30 minutes.

3 hours later...yes, 3 hours of sitting around in the teacher work room. we decided to get up and walk around the campus by ourselves. walking down the 'hallways' (cobblestone sidewalks) we passed classroom after classroom of broken windows and open doors. it was about 75 degrees today. every class we walked by yelled and waved and we waved back and smiled and said 'molweni!' (mole-wayne-eee) this means 'hello' to a large group of people. if it's just one person you say 'molo!'. we felt like celebrities....again. a boy from one class we walked by asked us if we were from New York. that made us laugh.

after our tour we found an economics teacher in the workroom who agreed to let us sit in on his grade 11 class. the students were already there when we showed up. i didn't count but i would guess upward from 35 in a room smaller than my moms at school. no air conditioning. the broken windows and the open door were the only source of circulation. but with the door open there was so much noise in the courtyard even i was distracted. i don't know how they do it.

anyway, we got to the classroom and introduced ourselves. i was last.
"hi! i'm Katie. i'm from ODU and my major is psychology...and i'm really you can tell." they all laughed and gave me and the rest of the girls a huge round of applause after each introduction. then the teacher told us to take a seat and one girl at the back of the class looked so excited and was waving at me so of course i went and sat next to her. she cleared off the seat beside her (they have to share a bench which is connected to the desk). her surname is Caroline. i have no idea how to spell or pronounce her Xhosa name, sorry. next to Caroline was her friend Olivia. again, a surname. they were so sweet. after the lesson we got to talk to them about why we are here and what ideas we had for the school. when they heard about the idea of a book club they lit up! we passed around a piece of paper and got everyones name who was interested. this was the last class of the day so they left after we talked, you would be amazed at how a wave and a "goodbye" from us made them grin from ear to ear. i get chills just thinking about it :)

we went back into the computer lab after school. Swallows was already gone because he and the other teachers had to attend a workshop this afternoon. we sat around in the lab for awhile to see if the internet was working again but it was still down. we really hope it isn't capped for the month yet. did i mention they have a cap? they only get a certain amount of download bites (gigga, mega, i don't know what it's called) and with all the unnecessary downloads like youtube and music they lose that really fast. back to the story, crystle and i met a boy named Mawande (muh-wan-day). he is in grade 12. he wants to be an engineer. we told him to apply to ODU and i wrote down our email and the schools email. i hope he looks into it. he asked us a bunch of questions and we just chatted for awhile. he asked if we have visited the townships and we said yes. he asked if we walked around them and we said yes. he asked if we walked around for a long time or a short time and we said for about 20 minutes. then the conversation went something like this...

us: "we walked around for about 20 minutes."
him: "really? ....i wouldn't do that"
us: "uhhh.....why?"
him: "that place is dangerous. no, not even dangerous, i don't know a different word, but it's more than dangerous."


i'm sure he meant that about the night time and of course if we were by ourselves. which would NEVER happen. to hear him say that just broke my heart. he lives in the townships. i'm not sure which one. he was such a nice boy. we asked him what he liked to do after school, if he had any hobbies or anything. he basically said he did homework and sometimes played soccer in the streets; anything to stay away from the gangsters and drugs and violence because "that stuff is bad". they are actually called "gangsters" out here. not like 50 cent or tupac. real gangsters that rape and murder and steal. these kids face that everyday when they walk home from school and in their neighborhoods. we're going to meet up with him tomorrow after school so i can create an email account for him to stay in touch after we leave.

now for the happy stuff. see how i leave the uplifting things for last?

Fezeka has an AMAZING choir. i mean, AMAZING doesn't even begin to describe them. after the computer lab it was about 315 and we weren't being picked up until 430ish. we were sitting around in the courtyard and saw a boy from the economics class walking towards us with his friends. of course we yelled for them to come talk to us. they mentioned in class that they were in the choir and we even tried to beg them to sing for us during class but they were too we asked again. the courtyard was empty and it was just us. they all had huge smiles on their faces and you could tell they were blushing but Sbu (sboo, this one is hard to sound out but just squish the S and the Boo together) told us to wait there and they were going to practice for a second in the classroom.

we waited for a few minutes then heard this booming sound coming from the classroom across the courtyard. i swear to you it sounded like someone was either playing a CD or they had more than 4 boys in the room with them. it was neither.

Thando (ton-dough), Sbu, Vuyo (voy-yo) and Khanyiso (he let us call him Kanye)

Thando and Vuyo are twins. Thando means "love" and Vuyo means "happiness". awwwww. Sbu means "blessings". i'm not sure about Kanye yet. they talked to us and sang for us for an hour and 15 minutes before the van showed up to get us.

did i mention they are all 15 years old?

they gave us all Xhosa names. they named each of us after one of them. i got Sbu! kind of ironic if you know my views on organized religion, but i love my new name. Sbu is my boo. that's the new joke in our group. he has a crush on me and it's pretty cute. i always fall for the music men.

we have a date to see the whole choir tomorrow!


we had our first dinner at the house tonight. well, the first catered dinner. there was a LOT of curry. my mouth was on fire. i've never had curry before. i think she said she uses it a lot in her dishes so i might be eating salads for dinner from now on. we'll see. by the way, i thought i was going to lose at least a couple of pounds on this trip. it's impossible when we eat ALL the time and there is a quick mart up the street from our house. seriously, this culture is all about food. all the time. and good food. we get snacks and treats and meals all day long. it's so hard to resist! and it's not like i'm not hungry and don't want to be rude, we work all the time and we are constantly doing things so we're starving by the time the next meal arrives. sheesh. oh well. when in rome....or south africa.

Ndiyakuthanda! (that is "i love you" and i'll let you sound that one out for yourselves)


mommy said...

hi pooh bear! those guys are AWESOME!!!! it sounded like an entire chorus and it was only 4 guys! amazing! i hope the computers are up and running tomorrow. hopefully you will get the package dad and i mailed today. it is full of certficates of all kinds. ellen cox is already thinking of ways to make money to get books and pay for postage next school year! maybe we could set up a mentoring program where the high school kids there email my kids here...that might be cool! more people are reading your blog and cant wait for the next chapter! have a great day tomorrow. i love you up to the sky and back! oxoxoxox

Jessica said...

Hey Katie!!!
It's your cuz Jess! I hope your having a blast, it sounds like it! Wow, when I played the videos of those boys singing I was blown away. You weren't kidding, they are amazing!!! Also, all the things you guys are planning there sounds awesome, its so cool that they are all excited about a book club. These kids are amazing, and Im so proud of you and all that you're doing. Sorry if that sounded cheesy lol! I hope everything is going well, and I hope the surfing thing works out. That part actually surprised me haha! Be safe! Love you, Jessica!

dad said...

that singing was awesome.....those name...Sbu....youre a trip...I guess I sholdnt tell you this...but im going to anyway....I cant help knw that....I wa reading ona south africa web site...a news item about the violence in johanesburg....xenophobia....yeah....that means basically not liking, or perhapsbeing afraid of foreigners....there was violence toward foreigneers in the streets...but it was mainly other africans who the locals thnk are taking their jobs....people, refugees i believe, from zimbzbwe and mozambique....a bit scarry though....but the article emphasised that xenophobia was not part of their culture and that the govt was cracking down on safe and dont go out alone, or without numbers...I havent told mom maybe she wot read this...and I sure didnt tell JB!!!!!hed be on the first plane over my class last night, several students had wall maps they were using...tow had africa up...and i baby is right freakin south africa...i stillcant believe least you got a better airpane than i did when i went overseas!!!!!...but i had a helluva boxed lunch..let me tell wa awesome...Opening the door and stepping out ito that sauna was a trip though....anyway...back to the 21st century...broken windows and no ac...barbed air classes...makes you wish for madison doesnt it!...its also funny how people think all americans are from ne heard that before...everyoe knows new york....not sure thats the best way to judge america...I love you....cant wait to see you!

dad said...

whered my comment go? did i unblog it? wa it too long???? grrrr

dad said...

Oh...its t the bottom...see...i blogged again

mom said...

hey katie its ur brother,hope ur having a good time out there,all ur pics. are really sweet, i wish I was there,im kinda jealous.remember to be careful,always travel in groups,and dont drink the water!!!!!!!!! i ;love u and miss u and i will see u when get home.until then have fun,peace!