WorldTeach summer volunteer Britney shares some of her experience in South Africa.
Last week was the start of the holiday break around here, which means we all started working. A few of the volunteers, myself included, are working at a place called the Pink House in Masiphumelele. We are working with Grade 7 students and creating workshops to help with reading and writing (especially in English) and increasing self-esteem. We have been doing different activities to have them focus on what they like about themselves and focusing on how wonderful and different they all are. We are encouraging them to create these things in English and in Xhosa and we have had the kids even help us create some for us in Xhosa words. It has been so much fun to have them teach us their home language too.
Working with 13 and 14 year-olds was definitely a huge change for me since I have been with tiny humans for so long, but these kids are just so amazing! They definitely keep me on my toes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our first few days were mainly focusing on playing games to get to know each other and try to learn everyone’s names. Their names are all traditional Xhosa names so I am still trying to learn how to properly pronounce them– thank God these kids have enough patience to tell me multiple times how to say their names. I have also started to learn how to play soccer, which has been entertaining to say the least. On the first day they taught us how to play rugby and I ended up ripping my shirt. I guess you could say I got a little too into it. At least my soccer skills are definitely improving… Okay maybe not.
They asked to take us on a tour of Masi last week to show us more about where they live and what they like to do around town. As I have said in my previous posts, each tour we have taken around the township has been very emotional, but this one has been the hardest. We spent our day walking around with the children as they pointed out all of the different areas around their town, where they like to play, what stores they go to, etc. It is still just so unreal to me that these amazing children are so happy with practically nothing. Some of the children pointed out their homes and it was unimaginable to picture all of these children living in such small spaces. I was overwhelmed with the amount of gratitude I felt for everything that I have in my life.
Seeing how different these kids’ lives are compared to how I grew up is eye-opening to say the least. They made collages on the first day to describe themselves and their hopes/dreams. It was amazing to see how many kids put pictures of cars or families on their collages saying that they hoped to one say have these things. One little boy put the word “Hero” on his collage and said he hoped to some day be someone’s hero. My heart just about broke right then and there. They are just so grateful for anything we give to them, even if it is just simply our time. As much as we are working to help teach these children, I already know that they are teaching me so much more. They have changed my life more within the first week together than I could have ever imagined. I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for us!
-Britney, WorldTeach South Africa Summer 2014
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