Over the course of the past few days, the entire nature of our work here has changed. In my last blog, I mentioned how I felt somewhat frustrated that our efforts promoting the ELI Africa Education Center in schools hadn’t produced more immediate results—and that maybe it had been unrealistic to think simply advertising our project in schools would immediately bring tons of kids to the center.
Well, it turns out that maybe my notions weren’t so unrealistic after all. Since Wednesday of last week, we’ve been getting about 30 kids at the center every day, and almost every student who’s come to the center so far has returned again—often bringing friends with them. If a passerby were to walk into the center, I feel they’d guess we were a well-established non-profit that had been operating for years well before they’d think we had opened the center only a few weeks ago. The kids really seem to be having a good time, and everyone involved in ELI Africa is having an awesome time working at the center. We’ve organized our schedule so at three lessons are going on simultaneously, which is not only great for making sure students can explore all of their interests, but also for having fellows help each other out during the day. It’s always nice when I can go help Austin out with his sports/fitness program or when another fellow sits in on my poetry sessions.
The space is also really coming along in physical terms. Gina’s garden (modeled in the shape of Africa) has been completed, we’ve cleaned and refilled the pond with water (a group of students even came in on their own when the center was closed to work on it), and the new ELI Africa aquarium has been delivered and filled.
I’ve also managed to get a meeting with government officials tomorrow at the Ministry of Arts and Culture, with the hope of having ELI Africa collaborate with the Mauritian government to establish a youth poetry prize. I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning with Vedant, and hopefully we’ll be able to have a productive meeting with the Ministry.
So all in all, the past few days have been really eventful for everyone, and it’s been really cool to see our group gradually making some awesome progress with our work.