Tag Archives: Teaching

Skool’s Out

I’ve never been to keen on guided tours and lectures.

Locked up abroad.

The Robben Island tour was full of them. If the tour guide told me that I was free to explore the prison to my liking, I would have enjoyed the experience a bit more. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, it’s just when I’m getting lectured my mind goes to La La Land. I’ve always been that way. A downfall of mine perhaps? Now that I’ve seen the island Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on for years, I can say I’m glad I went. However, it’s definitely not a highlight of my Africa adventure. If you are a history buff, then I highly recommend it. Obviously, I am no buff of history.

The main prison on Robben Island.

After we left the island, we took a cab to Timbuktu Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant on Long Street. The inside of the restaurant had a “tree house” feel to it and it seemed to only have one server for the entire restaurant, albeit a small one. I ordered a Kifto, chopped beef served with veggies and some kind of bread. I knew this meal would be special when the waiter came and told us “The food is ready. Will everyone please wash their hands.”

Timbuktu Cafe

I’ve never been told to wash my hands by a stranger before. Our waiter delivered our food. I didn’t realize we didn’t have any utensils and apparently we didn’t need them. They eat with their hands here. I suppose it’s an Ethiopian tradition. We used the bread, which looked like a flat sponge, to scoop up the food. It was actually quite tasty.

It’s the last week of school in Cape Town before the holiday starts. It stinks because we are at the point where we know a good chunk of the kids and they know us. I actually look forward to seeing them everyday, especially my favorites. There are seven students in particular that have clamped onto me since day one and I claimed them as mine. Conroy, Lewon, Deano, Limbo, Jayden, Gadija, and Ashwin. They all range from grade one to grade five. Is it bad that I bought them candy and not any other kid? Of course I gave it to them in secret but it’s almost impossible to do it without other kids running up to you begging for candy. I also bought pencils for my grade one class I have been in the past week. They either lost or broke them within the first ten minutes though. Since finals are done and students typically take it easy this week, all the first graders have been watching Barney for the past few days. I was able to set up Miss Jacobs computer and speakers to make it all possible. Miss Jacobs is one of the grade one teachers, who is very nice and often would leave me with the kids. Which I didn’t mind at all. On my last day at the school, I bought her a cake from the grocery. I told her I would try to visit her and the school when I return to South Africa in August.

I never described to you guys about the school’s computer program. When I first arrived in South Africa, I was originally supposed to teach the kids basic computer knowledge. I was very excited. But then I saw their “computer lab”…

This is the much hyped computer lab.

Their lab consisted of only two working computers. Both without internet access. Also the lab was inside a shipping container that was used for storage so there was barely any room to move. The computers were also outdated and slow. It was pathetic. It’s nothing like what was initially described to me. Essentially, the program doesn’t exist yet. However, the school is in the process of constructing a new lab inside the main building. It’s a slow process but I’m excited for the finished product. Unfortunately, I won’t be here long enough to see it.

I’m going to miss the kids here at the Christian Primary. The most corrupted games of Duck Duck Goose I have ever seen, the “Peel Banana” song, hiding from them in the shipping container on certain days, the tournaments, playing soccer and frisbee, and even the smell of dry urine on them.


Actually, I won’t miss the stench from these kids haha! I wish I could take them all home so they can get a proper shower and a fresh new garb of clothes. Even without that, these are some of the happiest kiddos I have ever seen. 🙂

Chris and the kids.
The grade 3 class…I think.
This was a part of my life at the Primary. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The “Air Hockey” Tournament

The grade five teacher has been absent for a couple days now, so the principal has left me and Erin (North Carolina) in complete control. Once the principal and their regular teachers leave, the kids go absolutely nuts! It’s more of how to figure out a way to keep them in line rather than actually teaching them anything of educational value. This is where my iPad comes into play. Before coming to Africa, I never intended on bringing it with me out of fear of getting it stolen (which is still a moderately high possibility) or ruined. But I heard the kids here LOVE touchscreen gadgets. I let Erin handle the girls. As for the boys, I thought some friendly competition would hold their attention. I have an air hockey app on my pad that two people can play at once. I set up a tournament bracket on the chalkboard and told them that I will buy the winner some treats. They were pumped! When you bribe these kids with candy, they will listen to anything you say.

I set up the bracket and had to explain to them exactly what a bracket was and what it can be used for. It was a good way for me to learn their names too. After some intense and lengthy matches, we crowned a winner. Virgil won.

I’ll be honest, I did not want Virgil to win. Out of all the grade five boys, he’s the worst! He causes the most trouble in the class. But he won fair and square so I bought him a giant bag of doritos and a king size kit-kat bar when I went on lunch break. To my surprise, Virgil shared his chips (otherwise commonly known as “crisps” here in South Africa) with his comrades in the class and asked if I could start another competition. I happily agreed. From then on, the kids in grade five took a liking to me and would follow me around even after class ended. I promised them we would have different tournaments soon. Success.

Virgil won…

The next day, I went to help out at the daycare because I needed to leave early to take care of some flight stuff. The daycare I went to was the most well behaved of the bunch. I didn’t have to do too much other than help them put together a million different kiddie puzzles. It’s the same routine for these kids everyday: play, eat, sing, eat, play, eat, nap. An easy day.

The kiddies eating lunch before their nap time.

Surfing was next on my agenda and this time I broke my previous record and stood for seven seconds. Thanks to Dave for the brief but important lesson on my stance. Crouching is key! The more I surf, the more I fall in love with it. The waves weren’t as great as other days but I still had a blast!

7 Seconds!

I have to cut this post short, because I have to wake up at four in the morning. Why so early you ask? Shark cage diving :).

Take Charge!

We received a stern warning from the principal at the school to be tough, take charge, or they will take over you. We didn’t really heed his warning very seriously. How difficult could it be to manage a classroom full of cute little kids? I was supposed to teach the students basic computer skills, but one of the teachers for a first grade class didn’t show up. I guess it happens often. Teachers just don’t show up. Like it’s no big deal. So I was yanked from the “computer lab” ( I’ll explain the quotations on a later post) with four other new volunteers to handle a classroom of 40 kids ranging from four to six years oId. I wasn’t prepared for this.

It was more like running a daycare than an actual classroom. The kids were all over the place! We were told to attempt to teach them whatever we wanted but unfortunately these kids were way too young for me to teach them anything they would be interested in. So I thought the best thing would be to have them follow me in step-by-step drawing. There are a few things I know how to draw from memory. Mickey Mouse is one of them.

The kids trying their best to match my Mickey.
Wrestlemania: South Africa

It managed to hold their attention for maybe five minutes before kids started climbing all over me for the remainder of the class. At almost every point there was a kid either on my shoulders, my back, dangling from my neck, or hanging onto my legs. If they weren’t using me as their own personal jungle gym then they were beating the crap out of each other. I had to break up maybe 15 different fights. No exaggeration there. These kids are savages! Before I came to SA, I heard from a friend that kids in this country love Dragonball Z. Thankfully I was able to calm the kids down a bit when I revealed I knew how to draw Goku. I think I drew him with the students about ten times. It was definitely a big help.

There were times when I hid from the chaos and visited other volunteers who were doing the sports development program. Boy did they have it easy. By the end of the school day, the lot of us teachers locked ourselves inside a shipping container that was in the schoolyard, protected from the wild animals. Personally the kids were too young for me. I can handle a few, but not 40 at once! Before we left school for the day, some of us newbies were introduced to the older, more well behaved classes that we would eventually work with. It was great because they asked if I could help them write raps in English when I get the chance. I told them yes and we would get some rap battles going on soon! English is not their first language, but they understand it pretty well. Most of the students speak Afrikaans or Xhosa. I don’t know a lick of either.

It was madness!

At this point in my time here, the other volunteers started to grow on me. In addition to the 20 volunteers I live with, there is roughly another 20 volunteers in a separate house, roughly five minutes down the road that I see on a daily basis.  I’m still trying to get names down. There are times where I would introduce myself to people that I’ve already met the day before. There’s just so many! There’s one girl, Lindsay, who I’ve literally met four times. Africa has a negative effect on my memory it seems. We joke about it now, but I won’t forget her anymore haha! Lindsay. After a night at a karaoke bar with everyone, we all finally started to make connections with each other which was great. Some connections were on a whole other level ( if you catch my drift) but that’s a separate story. 🙂

I guess they’re making gang signs. I was supposed to stop them from doing that. But oh well!