Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just For KICS

I’ve officially passed the one month mark! A week ago yesterday I had been a Rwandan resident for a month. The internet provider has been down almost every evening now for close to a week, and our router blew because of a power surge at home…so that is why it has been so long. In fact, I’m typing on a Word document to have saved for the next time I can get the internet. Getting the internet set up at our home was literally a miracle! You know, one of my friends who has lived in Africa said her blogs started about ideas and dreams and culture, and soon a friend told her they had digressed to the weather and what she ate that day. While I don’t want to neglect sharing about my experiences in a way that has a little depth…I should mention as a warning for the coming months that what I get to eat can truly feel like the event of the day. But, lucky for my regular readers, I’ll always have a class- and that means I’ll always have at least a story to tell.

First of all, I hope you paid close attention to the title of this entry. I know it may sounds cheesy- but I’m pretty proud of that play on words. (for those of you who may not know, KICS stands for Kigali International Community School) Now, I’ve been thinking of how to make the most of using that title…and that definitely means including many pictures. I’ve been attempting a good class picture- and it has been difficult. But I think I’m ready to just upload what I’ve got. I have a small class of only 7 students…and I’ve also taken more pictures of my classroom. When I first arrived I took pictures of the transformation of the room from day to day during my week of preparation…but then I never quite felt like it was ready for the “after” picture. So, I kept putting it off. Then I realized that it will never look like the most perfect first grade classroom I could ever envision, so I better start snapping away anyways. Since uploading takes here I'm only including one "before" picture.

Last year this room was used for 4th grade...the desks are so high and they are set up in rows.

Progress- I've lowered the desks, set them up in tables, and am now sorting through K and 1 books and curriculum, and put up a bulletin board

This is what my room looks like now...that is the alphabet chart with phonic pictures that the class made up on the wall, we have a calendar area with small rugs, the bookcase, and word wall

This is from the other corner of the room- my textbook shelf and my desk in the corner

This is the white board- it is white paint on the wall with plastic covering to use as a wipe away surface. The best thing in this picture is the pocket chart! I love it!

Thats all for now because my internet code is about to run out again- and I don't want to wait for pictures to load again! More soon...and please feel free to email me :) I love keeping updated on the small details of your lives as well!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jambo First Graders!

I made it through my first week as a first grade teacher :) And, despite very minimal time for preparation and the trials of settling into a new home and route to school...I believe it went quite well. I'm eager to have a wonderful class picture to share with you...but the ones I've taken have had closed eyes or are not including my new student, so I think I'm going to wait for a better picture before I hastily post one that won't give quite the right impression.
Many of you know me and you may understand to a degree what my organization and planning preferences are like. Now, I'm not a total overachiever or detailed planner...but I am a someone who likes to have control and order and lists. Planning each day the night before it happened is not my preference whatsoever. But, when you're in a whole new world, you're in a new world ya know? So I survived- the kids have gotten the procedures pretty down- we've had some good writing and reading going on- we've learned some Swahili together- everyone got 100 on their first spelling test- and overall we had a wonderful week! I love my precious kids. It has been so encouraging to hear from parents at how pleased they are with the school and the good things they've heard from their students. And, on Thursday night I went to Bourbon and worked on planning...and one of my students came in with his family. When he came around the corner he jumped and squealed all excited!! It was seriously the best reaction you could ever get for someone seeing you...and I know I made all the high school teachers jealous that they weren't teaching the cute ones :) The title of this blog says Jambo (which is Swahili for hello) and although Swahili is not regularly spoken by any of my students, it is a prominent language of the surrounding countries in Africa and my students have really been excited about learning it! After just one Swahili lesson from Ms. Miriam (a 1/2 day preschool teacher), my kids were already greeting each other by saying "Jambo!"
I had one student ask for me to write down all the words from a Swahili book so she could take it home...so here is a lesson for you: Asanti= thank you, Chakula= food, and Watoto= children. We're only reading a few letters a day, but once we read "W' from the Swahili Alphabet book I'm going to start addressing the class as "Watoto".
Saturday came and my roommates and I had a very productive day! One stayed home to be there for the plumber and welder/locksmith. The other 3 of us went to town and bought so many things we really needed. More food, a water filter, hangers, plates, rags, kitchen supplies, sheets, rugs, and so much more. We also had our first game of truth or dare last night...which was incredibly bonding --haha! I have been so blessed by the relationships I have with these girls. It is so encouraging to live with people who are honest about what they are all going through (we all have our days!) and who are there to pray with, talk to, and laugh with.
I wrote in an email today that this week hass been extremely exciting, reassuring, chaotic, stressful, fun, challenging, and emotionally difficult. Although it has been the most exciting time here in Kigali (moving into a house, finally meeting my kids, and starting school) it has also been difficult and tearful. I have been missing home, my deepest and strongest friendships, my family being a phone call away, and the comforts of the world I'm so used to. The Lord has a way of showing me what I need to see/hear at just the right time...and so after feeling so close to tears many times this week, I was encouraged at church today in an incredible way. I decided that even with so much to do for this week, that I would attend a "beginner's class" to become a member at Christ's Church Rwanda. Hearing about the history and the vision of the ministry here (CCR is strongly affiliated with KICS) was very meaningful to me. I was reminded of how important this school is for the people in this community and what an influential group of people they are. There is a vision to engage the systems in place in Rwanda in order to have lasting transformational impact on the area...and it was essential for me to hear from a particular person in the meeting today who is Rwandan and a godly believer who has finally found a place that's vision has potential to make an immense difference for the people of Rwanda. The initial engagement of leaders in the Kigali community in the community of believers is essential for effective growth and development of faith in this region--and it is really exciting to be a part of it! (I wish I was better at explaining, but it would take 4 hours like the meeting today :) so just trust me that God is leading the believers here in amazing ways)
I will be posting again soon, and hoping to send an email this week. There are always stories, and always more thoughts to share...however, there is always more to be done in preparing for class- and because of the day I've had today, it has stacked up way beyond my expectations. So, I'm going to get busy and hopefully be efficient and productive tonight. As always, thanks for reading and remembering me in your thoughts and prayers. My requests for prayer today would be for endurance, relief of worry, and times of solitude and renewal. Thank you!