This first week in Mauritius has been a whirlwind. We took the first day or so easy, since we were still recovering from our two day flight. We live in a town called Roches Noires, in a house right across the street from the beach. Unfortunately, some wealthier residents have blocked off their own private beaches even though, according to Mauritian law, all beaches are supposed to be public. We’ve found a way to infiltrate, though – one of the large houses is still in construction, and the construction crew has been kind enough to let us pass through to the beach. In the mornings, Mike Rose and I have been going for swims around 7 am; I don’t think I’ve ever been able to wake up so easily or felt so energized in the morning.
After getting settled in, we visited Etoile de Mer, Ecole Fatima, and Amour Sans Frontières, three of the four schools we will be working at this summer. The way it works in Mauritius is that, in order to go from primary to secondary school, you have to pass a test called the CPE. At Etoile de Mer, we will be working with younger students who have not yet taken the CPE, while at Ecole Fatima, we will be working with older students who have already failed it multiple times and are at this point preparing for life in the real world. The common goal for both groups is to augment their English skills, which we will be doing through a variety of programs that I’m excited to explain further as we really get down to business next week.
The third school that I mentioned, Amour Sans Frontières, is a special needs school that welcomes students with a host of disabilities ranging from Down syndrome to autism. Our time there was absolutely amazing – the first time we visited, they were practicing for a performance they would put on the next day for their families. They sang and danced, and even taught us some moves to Shakira’s World Cup song, “Waka Waka” (which all of us now have stuck in our heads). We returned the next day to watch the real performance, and it was heartwarming to see parents there cheering their sons and daughters on, their smiles matching those of the kids onstage.
All in all this first week has been phenomenal, both in terms of getting to know the other fellows and the students at the schools. I only have one problem – I can’t seem to stay awake past 9 pm. I feel like such a grandma, I need to get it together because we have a lot of work to do next week!