Okay, I haven't blogged in three weeks and now I have too much to tell you so I have writer's block. An idea from my friend Meghan's blog is to ask me questions (by email preferrably: firstname.lastname@example.org) which I can then answer on my blog.
Here is a quick version of what I've been up to the past few days.
I gave the sermon at Mama's church. Topic: Random Acts of Kindness. I really enjoyed speaking to and interacting with the kids. I'm trying hard to learn names and someday I hope to know the Kinyarwanda verses to some of the songs they sing. This Sunday morning tradition continues to be a real spirit-lifter and I am going to make it a priority each week.
I visited my domestic Delphine's house on an invitation to attend her little brother's first communion. There, I also tried sorghum and banana beer- yuck ! I met about 40 or so relatives and one eccentric uninvited guest who ended up being quite entertaining (re: " a little off") and was well tolerated by the guests. Delphine lives about an hour's hike up in the hills of rural Gitarama.
I watched a fascinating concert at Orion Nightclub in which most of the hip-hop stars lip-synched to a recorded track. The star of the show was "The Ben" (his hip-hop name) and man could he dance !
I finally hosted my Canada Party-ironically on July 4th. The irony was not lost on our British friend Tom who decided to wear an American flag t-shirt. My friends were put through the paces of some of my best game ideas. We played waterbottle bowling with a football (did you know footballs don't roll?), musical chairs, had a Canadian Flag drawing competition, "Truth or Dare" Jenga, a blindfold/spin/can you find the wall game, waterballoon volleyball (in which karma paid a visit and Tom was the only one to get soaked!) and finally Canadian Trivia. I have to say, I thought the question "Can you name a Canadian Prime Minister, ANY Canadian Prime Minister?" was one of the easier ones, but the British, American, Phillipino and Irish participants were stumped. Too funny.
On actual Canada Day, I passed around a bunch of balloons to the neighbourhood kids. It was really fun to see their reactions and explain why Canada had a birthday on July 1st. I even caught some adults joining in the fun. Besides the great comraderie of the day and feeling proud to be Canadian, a true highlight of this event was asking the neighbourhood kids to help me decorate my front gate with chalk art. We wrote "I love Canada" and "I love Rwanda" and soon the gate was covered. I collected all of the chalk back- or so I thought. A few days later, I started to notice little additions of writing in small blank pockets on the gate. Now, at home you would think that vandalism by kids under 12 would result in some embarassing or slightly inappropriate language/pictures. This is what my gate said in children's handwriting: "We love you Rebecca. We are all family. We are all friends." This little story captures the spirit of what it's like living in Rwanda.
The rest of the 2nd week was a little tough as I was sick again. I'm completely recovered and am eating my veggies/taking my Vitamin C hoping to avoid feeling that way again.
Now, UNICEF. I was fortunate enough to have the good sense to say "yes" when the VSO Office asked for a few volunteers to help Unicef run a workshop on active, child-centred methodology. This led to having my best week in Rwanda to date. We ran a workshop for four days to support Unicef's initiative of creating "Child-Friendly Schools". I will be preparing a longer blog and posting more pics about this at a future date. I think what I love best about being here, is the nature of my work. Bridging the gap between the traditional style of "chalk and talk" teaching and my preferred method of QDPA- making learning fun- style of teaching is fascinating. I had teachers making leaf art, texture sketching, playing Simon says, making musical instruments from found materials, playing Ship to Shore, singing the alphabet song- while including an emphasis on cross-curricular lesson planning. I remember when I first became a teacher and I felt inspired by the role of being a teacher. I'm so glad that feeling has returned. I am so passionate about this kind of work.
Well, I think I've covered about 25% of what's happened here in the last 3 weeks. As always, there are far too many stories, and far too few moments I can run to the Internet cafe.
Hope all is well and everyone is 100% into their relaxing summer routines.