Thursday, 17 July 2014

Future Plans

Although it was a difficult decision, I have decided that at the end of my "extended-year" contract in December, I will not be renewing for another year of missions in South Africa.

I have enjoyed my service immensely!  I've met such wonderful people, made lifelong friends, taught unforgettable students, and learned so much in these past years.  

I don't know what God holds for my future, but I do have the comfort in knowing that He holds it.  God knows what is next for me and I'm trying my best to not worry or be anxious and to let things fall into place.

Please pray for me as I prepare to return to the United States in just over four months and as I look into future job opportunities.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, 4 July 2014

Cultural Blunders

Even though I've spent 18 months in South Africa I'm no expert.  I still have a lot of things to learn about the country and it's people.  I try my best to keep my eyes and ears open so that I make as few mistakes as possible, but there are some things I'll never pick up on my own.

Just a few weeks ago I was attending a dinner and my friend said to me, "Take off your gloves."  I looked up as if to say, "Are you joking?  It's freezing in this place!"  My friend responded to my facial expression with, "It's rude to shake someone's hand with your gloves on."  I was skeptical until another person chimed in that it indeed was rude.  Well, there's two winters already come and gone that I've made that mistake in!  At least now I know.

There's also a rule, although it doesn't seem to be strictly enforced, that students shouldn't wear hats in the classroom.  I get that, except when it's winter.  When it's 40 degrees in my classroom I have a hard time telling my students to take off their winter hats, especially when I have no intention of taking mine off!  That being said, it's even more rude to wear a hat while praying- even in America this is true.  But it's not something you think of as you sit shivering in the winter cold.  At least not something you think of until one of your students stops you and says, "Teacher you're still wearing your hat!"  Oops!

Those are just two examples of the many, many blunders I've made!  But the good news is I do continue to learn and try my best to adapt into South African culture!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

School's Out!

After closing in prayer at our school chapel today the kids rushed for their bags and headed home, not just for the evening but for the next three weeks!  June exams have come and gone so now teachers and learners both get to enjoy the winter holidays.

Here's some photos I captured on our last day:
Reading her report card!

Proud of his work during the term

Rushing home to a three-week holiday!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Computer Classes

Unlike many schools in our area, Saint Peter Christian College offers computer classes to students starting in Grade 1.  Most of our students are now in their second year of computer classes.  I'm really proud of the rapid growth I've seen.  The first graders have gone to no knowledge of computers to being able to power up and shut down a laptop, manipulate a mouse, and use the start menu.  They practise these skills by drawing pictures in Paint.

I'm busy developing the computer curriculum in our school which starts at the most basic level of what a laptop is to typing practise to learning the basics of different computer programs.  My goal for the seventh graders is that by the end of the year they'll be able to use Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel.

This term the seventh graders worked on individual powerpoint presentations.  They learned to format text, change the background, use animations, and insert slide transitions.  In addition I had them practise connecting the projector to the laptop and save documents to a USB.  These are skills that in America we would call basic, but here in South Africa our students are quite ahead of their peers when it comes to using a computer.

God has truly blessed our school with the ability and resources to teach extra-curricular classes such as computers, religion, and music!

Preparing for her presentation

Presenting about our school's soccer team

Monday, 16 June 2014

Youth Day

On the 16th of June South Africa celebrated Youth Day by remembering the struggles that South African youth went through during Apartheid.  On 16 July 1976 African youth across the country gathered to oppose the Bantu Education which forced them to learn all subjects in Afrikaans, a language many of them could not read or write.  Eventually South Africa changed those requirements giving learners the freedom they have today to study their subjects in whichever national language they choose.  In our area we have schools conducted in English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, isiZulu, and Sepedi.

Our school remembered Youth Day by doing a special chapel service which included the Sarafina dance- the dance that was originally done in the days of protesting.  At church the youth also sang protest songs from the 1970's in remembrance of the struggle for equal opportunities in education.

Youth at church dressed in school uniforms and performing the Sarafina dance after the service

Some of our students at school performing the Sarafina dance for the rest of our student body