I am currently on a high from a hard workout and an extremely successful day. Our morning started early, with the team breaking apart for several missions. Ed and I traveled around to several schools to promote our program, and the administration was very receptive and encouraging at all three. We had the opportunity to speak to classes and pass out our flyers at the first two, and the kids seemed genuinely interested and excited. We also intrigued several teachers, who want to come see our center and observe our classes. At the second and third school, we were invited back to teach lessons during the day. In fact, at the second school, where science isn’t even taught, the teachers were so excited when they learned of my program, and invited us to come any day, at any time and we could teach classes.
After a long trek around Pamplemousses, we ran into Vedant on the way to the Center, passing out flyers to various businesses in the vicinity. Ed and I stopped for some flatbread for a quick lunch, and a friendly bus driver was nice enough to treat us to our lunch and a cold drink! I am constantly amazed by how gracious and welcoming the Mauritian people are, and how grateful they are for our attention to their children. He sincerely wanted to thank us for the work we have devoted ourselves to, and will be sending his son to the Center tomorrow and hanging the flyers at all of his stops.
Finally, we reached the Center, always the favorite part of my day. I was super excited when Vedant presented me with a solar-panel powered lamp, and was able to teach a quick lesson on sustainable energy and renewable resources. Their excitement after the lamp lit up after an hour was hysterical, and they all piled their hands over the orb as if reading a magic crystal ball, and I would telepathically communicate with them as they repeated back the lesson they learned earlier.
But definitely the highlight of my day was our first female student!! She is the big sister of one our prior students, and showed up a little shy and timid. However, after sitting her down in my new ‘lab,’ she proved extremely bright and clever. I went through my initial reactions lesson with her, and was even able to delve a little deeper into the topic and show some chemical equations and such. My mission is definitely to inspire young girls to pursue science, especially in a culture in which female scientists are not as common. Today definitely felt like the first big step.
Another exciting tidbit: some of our students have to put on a show in two weeks, and they want our help! Sabrina and Ed are going to help them write it, McKay is directing it, and they want to make it all about science! Apparently the mad scientist act of the coat and goggles has been working on at least some of them, and it is touching to know that they truly enjoy my lessons.
The house’s energy is high after such a productive day. Most of the team is now rocking out in the kitchen to our new favorite Mauritian station, BEST FM, busy preparing Gina’s Korean barbeque. It may have been only two weeks, but there is a definite bond building between us. It is amazing to think that most of us barely knew each other before this trip, but we are so strongly united over this common goal of helping the children that our friendship has been so immediate and sincere. We are truly shaping into the ideal Eli Africa family.