This week at RPS we handed out the books and colored pencils from the book drive. The kids were all so excited and everyone kept comparing it to Christmas.
So many of the kids could not believe that they actually got to keep the book. They asked over and over when they had to bring the book back. Once they understood that the book really was theirs, one boy said that he would keep the book for a few years and then give it to his little brother, another girl said that she would give the book to her kids when she grows up, and one kid planned to keep the book until he was 100 years old. They were all so grateful and wanted us to thank those of you who donated books.
The library at Zuurbekom is finally finished. We put up signs and finished dotting all the books. From the minute we opened the library doors until it was time to leave, the library was full of students. Kids from every grade came whenever they had the chance. One group of ninth grade girls even offered to sweep the library just so that they would get to be the first ones there in the morning. The third grade boys continue to drive us crazy, but even they are so eager to learn and get their hands on a book. At both RPS and Zuurbekom we were reminded how happy and excited these kids are to have access to books, especially when they can bring them home.
Because this was our last weekend in South Africa, we visited all of our favorite spots. We also saw a Kwasa Kwasa (music from central Africa) band. We can’t believe that we have less than one week left. It’s going to be so hard to say goodbye to the kids. See you soon!
Last week, the shipment of books and colored pencils arrived! Thank you to everyone who donated, with a special thanks to the Pingry and Christ the King communities. We especially want to thank Anna Wood, a fourth grader from the Pingry lower school, who requested GLP book donations in lieu of gifts for her birthday. We really appreciate this support and plan to start handing out the books to classes tomorrow. The kids are going to be so excited, especially given the great quality of the books!
The vice-principal of RPS asked us if we would work to create a yearbook with one of the grade 7 teachers. RPS has not published a yearbook in over twenty years, so we’ve been trying to help with suggestions and pictures. We also totaled the votes of the grade 7’s surveys, which included a “favorites” section and a superlative section, and got some very funny responses–one boy, for example, wrote that his worst nightmare is “being kissed by a girl who doesn’t know how to kiss.” It was also interesting how many of the kids’ choices were similar to those in the U.S.: the favorite food was pizza; their favorite song was “Knock You Down” by Keri Hilson; their favorite actors were Will Smith and Angelina Jolie.
We had some entertaining moments while starting to read a few of the donated book with the kids. A few grade boys spontaneously broke into rapping and beatboxing “The Lorax” (and it actually sounded good!), and a few groups very elaborately acted out “The Rainbow Fish.” With one grade 3 class, we hosted a competition between the boys and the girls. Each group had to read the full book and plan out a performance. The difference between the boys’ group and the girls’ group was hilarious: while the girls quietly sat in a circle and passed the book amongst themselves, the boys pushed each other and argued about how best to read the book. Given this, it was unsurprising that the girls’ performance won by a landslide–even the boys admitted that.
On Wednesday afternoon, we left for Durban, which is in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. It was great to explore a new city, enjoy the sunny weather, and eat delicious Indian food! We cannot believe that we are leaving South Africa in less than two weeks!
On Monday, four of the foundation phase (grade 1- grade 3) teachers were absent so there were over 150 subs (students distributed into other classes). Because some classes then had more than 60 kids of various ages, the teachers were really struggling to figure out what to do. In the morning, we tried to help out by taking about 60 of the subs kids outside. They were given the choice of playing or reading. Although some of the kids of course chose to play, it was refreshing to see how many kids wanted to spend the time reading. For the last two hours, the teachers decided to show a movie to all of the foundation phase kids. Everyone was glad to have made it through the day.
Olubayi Olubayi, the president of GLP, was in South Africa for a few days. We saw him after school on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We met with Madame Speaker Caroline Setsiba and two people from the Social Development Department in Randfontein. It was great to touch base with both Olubayi and members of the local government. We were reminded of how much is being done to improve the school systems as well as how much is still left to do.
The finals for Master and Miss Randfontein Primary were held this Thursday. It was so much fun to see the kids perform the dances they’ve worked so hard on and model in the dresses and suits donated by local businesses for the night. The kids were so cute and did such an amazing job! So many of the parents and other students were there to cheer on the contestants and dancers. The teachers put so much effort into making the night possible. It was great to see everyone in the community come together and show their school spirit.
At Zuurbekom we have continued dotting the books and more kids have had the chance to check them out. This week we got to meet with some of the older students (grade 8), who have been repeatedly asking their teachers why only the younger kids got the chance to check out books. Although it was strange to teach kids closer to our age, it was nice to not have to worry about the language barrier. They took out books ranging from The Princess Diaries to a world atlas to AP Physics Homework Help to easy picture books. It was clear that although they were all so enthusiastic, their reading level did not necessarily match up with their desire for information. The second and third graders, who have almost all brought their books back on time, also checked out books again. It finally feels like the library seems to be functioning smoothly.
We went with Abby (Mrs. Kinney’s sister) and her family to the American Society Halloween Party. We helped set up and ran different activities like pumpkin golf, find an eyeball, and pin the nose on the pumpkin. We hope you had an amazing Halloween and are enjoying the World Series. Go Yankees!