Another week down in the books here in Mauritius. Time has really gone by fast as our days are consumed with teaching in the classroom and debriefing each evening. I’m happy to see our progress from just a week ago and, especially after our meeting this evening, I’m even more excited to get the ball rolling on our projects at the separate schools.
The students at Etoile de Mer enjoyed the Fellows’ company and direction as they have begun to write their own autobiographies and have spent a day tilling and preparing the garden to plant various fruits and vegetables. The school also allowed us to accompany them on a field trip Friday to the sugar museum and to a botanical garden. The museum was very informative and had a few interactive stations, but the students were definitely ready to leave when it was time to pile up and head over to the garden for lunch. After lunch, we introduced the kids to some traditional American outdoor games like “Duck, Duck, Goose” and “Red Light, Green Light” before roaming around the garden to see massive trees, beautiful flowers, and tons of fish, deer, and huge tortoises. They all loved taking pictures of everything and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The thing that amazed me most during the day was the kids’ generosity and hospitality on the trip. They were sharing their snacks and their games on the bus and always wanted the Fellows to be involved with what they were doing.
At Fatima, we felt that another day of observation was necessary in order to examine how the students were being taught English and then discuss what projects would be the most effective. I participated in an activity with Bryan and Isabel where we thought of different words for each letter of the alphabet and then we wrote our own paragraphs using those words. It was nice to see them working together and I really enjoyed standing up and presenting my paragraph to the class. After everyone presented, it was time for a small break and then I sat in an art class with kids making mosaics. One of the students working in the class, Kevin, was very engaging and wanted to get to know Mike and me a little better. We talked about what we did for fun, what music we listened to, and what he wanted to do after school. Our time at Fatima was up after Kevin taught us how to play the card game rummy. It was nice to see that, thanks to Kevin, the other kids were much more willing to open up to us and that they were all regular 15-19 year old kids like we once were. I’m also very thankful for Kevin and his willingness to reach out to me and the other Fellows. So, the plan at Fatima this week is to start up a blog and theater project. I think the kids are going to have a lot of fun using the computers and the internet to make their writing public and they will surely have a great time with Mike and his planned theater activities.
On Thursday, we went to Anous Grandi and Amour Sans Frontieres, the two special needs schools we are working with while we are here. It was our first interaction with the kids at Anous Grandi and they welcomed us with tons of handshakes and, of course, soccer. We then played a game where we passed a ball around in a circle as music played to help the students practice their motor skills. Once the music stopped, whoever had the ball had to go into the middle of the circle and sing a song. Mike gave great renditions of “Happy Birthday” and “Mary had a Little Lamb” and I performed “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” We were all out done by a girl in a wheelchair who sang in Creole about putting your hands in the air, your hands on your hips, and then doing the American dance. She was great. A little later on in the morning, I had some one on one time with a boy who never ran out of energy. He was playing soccer, going down the slide, swinging on the swingset, but, most of all, spinning. He spun himself on this one piece of playground equipment so fast and for so long and, yet, he never once got dizzy. If he fell off, he got right back on for another round. If I told him it was time to go inside, he spun some more. Finally, I summoned some help from the other teachers so he decided to give us all a scare and hide for awhile before he was found minutes later. As much work and energy he took out of me, I’m already looking forward to playing with him again this week. He’s awesome.
At Amours Sans Frontieres, it was great to see all of the kids get excited when we pulled up to the school. It was lunch time and the group I sat down with tried to give me Creole lessons while they ate. They were very helpful and enjoyed being the teachers for once. Then it was time for more soccer obviously. The kids had a blast and you could tell that they don’t get the chance to play with others very often. It was a good day.
So yeah. If you are still reading, I had a great week. The Fellows had a lot of fun, but we also got a lot of work done. I think all of the students are very comfortable with us helping them in the classroom and I already feel close to many of them. It will be interesting to see how the projects go from here and to evaluate what changes need to be made along the way.
I’ll reward those readers that have made it this far with a few other memories that occurred outside of the classroom this past week:
Vedant’s dog, Baba Lours, jumped off of the second floor balcony.
We found a dead rat in a bucket of water in the kitchen.
A boy from Etoile de Mer can do the coolest running back flip I’ve ever seen.
We had an ‘eventful’ drive to Port Louis on Saturday.
Back-to-back traditional Mauritian meals for dinner this weekend.
And, lastly, I missed USA’s only goal vs. England while I was in the bathroom.