Thursday, June 19, 2008

Potty Talk

Emotionally I'm doing well, but I've come down with my first case of diarrhea. Attempting to relieve myself in the choo [pronounced cho (as in hoe)- o (as in oh my goodness)], which is simply a hole in the ground you squat over, is not the easiest of feats. It's also fairly disgusting. I never realized how wonderful traditional toilets were until today. I visited the choo at school three times and each time it became increasingly difficult. To make matters worse, it rained all morning and all of my clothes were soaked when I arrived in Ngaramtoni. I'm sure my hiking boots will never pass an inspection by the US Health Department. 4 Pepto's later, I'm still feeling slightly rumbly in my tummy, but am hoping for the best. Of course, Megan's stomach is made of steal and she's working on the opposite problem. We've decided that we need to combine forces to create the ultimate stool.

We had another great day at school today. The kids are dedicated learners and are particularly thankful for everything we teach them. After each lesson, they shout in unison, "Thank you, Teacher!"

Today we split into our English groups. Megan's group worked on writing their names and singing the ABC's. Offhand, I heard our teacher correct Megan's version of the ABC song. The Swahili version is fairly similar with Z being pronounced as "zed" and sung to a different tune. Megan reports that her group of students, about 7, have no letter concepts and a very difficult time spelling their names. My students continued working on the short -e and short -u sounds. The students used the flashcards I created and sorted the words according to the vowel sound they produced. I also wrote the words on the board and had the students practice sounding them out. We finished by drawing pictures for each of the short -e words. When I collected their homework from yesterday, those who completed it smiled proudly, while the few who forget looked extremely embarassed. I reassured those students that I wasn't upset, but they still appologized profusely, "Sorry, Teacher. Teacher, I do more."

We finished the day by creating "All About Me" books, my mother in-law's idea. Megan begane the lesson by reading the book, "Whoever You Are," a wonderful story about diversity. We discussed with the kids the things that make us the same and different from one another. Sweet Nuru shared with us what love means, "I would hug someone if they're hurt and tell them they are ok." The kids were enthralled with the book. As I sat back listening to Megan, I looked at all of their faces and their eyes were glued to the book and every now and then they would chuckle as our teacher translated the book into English.

After Megan read the book, we created the kid's personal books. The kids were in awe that we had created books of paper just for them. Our teacher pulled me aside as the kids chattered away in Swahili and said, "They're saying, 'It's like a real book!' They are very happy to have this book." We had the kids write and design their covers (Title: All About Me. Author: Musa, picture of Musa). Each kid numbered their pages and we then had them fill in the first page. I wrote on the chalkboard "My name is Michelle. I have 6 people in my family." The kids copied this onto their first page and wrote their own names and how many people they have in their family. We then had them draw each family member and label them. At the end of the period, each kid came to the front and read their book.

Megan and I are really proud of the kids. Their really working hard and are being challenged more than I think they have ever been. When we've left each day this week, our teacher always says, "The kids, they are so tired." Today we even had a few with tears of exhaustion in their eyes and one who was nearly asleep at his desk. I'm happy their working so hard, but I don't want them to over-exert themselves. We may have to scale back a bit.

Moment of the day:
* Seeing all of the girls' drawings of themselves. In Tanzania, it's required by the government that students wear their hair shaved. Thus, all of our students have short hair. All of the girls in our class drew themselves with long, flowing black hair that flipped at the ends.


Dad said...

I've been meaning to give you a Dave Mathews reference.

"Don't Drink the Water"!!!!

Hope all is well and you are getting "regular".

Love you! Dad