Well, after months of waiting, our group’s first days in Mauritius have finally arrived. Our accommodations are beautiful (our 3rd floor porch has great views of the nearby ocean), the house as a really positive atmosphere, and each of the Fellows is noticeably excited to begin work on his or her respective project.
Before we begin working with students, however, our group still has plenty of work that needs to be done. Most notably, we must prepare our new education center for the students we hope to soon be working with. We traveled as a group to the center for the first time today, and held a meeting there to discuss what changes we plan to make in the next several days to transform the building—currently set up as a private residence—into a bright, welcoming, educational space. As a result, it seems most of our upcoming weekend will be spent moving furniture, painting walls, and obtaining the necessary supplies to successfully create the atmosphere we’re looking for.
Despite all this more immediate work, however, I’m not forgetting to focus on the broader goals of my poetry-writing project. After seeing the education center’s basic layout and discussing the general format our Fellow-student will assume, I realized I faced a number of new challenges. How could I best take advantage of the education center’s space without getting in the way of the other Fellows? How can I work with my other Fellows to ensure my project ties in with their work? How can I best incorporate the center’s spacious backyard into my project?
Over the next few days, I’ll have to consider potential answers to these questions (and many more). At the same time, however, I won’t let such ideas prevent me from engaging myself in the tasks currently at hand: working on the education center itself, and raising awareness of ELI Africa and our program within the local community.
As a group, we’ve got a lot on our plate; but judging by the enthusiasm and attitude my housemates and I currently share, I think we should be up to the task.