I am in a complete sprint by the time the rear two bright lights slow as the bus nears the bus stop. Unfortunately for me, Mauritian buses do not view the “stop” aspect of “bus stop” as an absolute, and this bus is no exception. The bus slows down just enough for a woman wearing an elaborate yellowish-orange scarf to hop on the first step and then it speeds away as I reach the bus stop panting. I look down the street and see that Bryan was also unable to chase down his bus. It is getting darker.
We had been waiting for a bus for around 30 minutes when one bus rounded the corner from the west while another turned the corner from the east; this would not have been a problem except that the bus stop for the eastward bus was approximately 75 feet from the bus stop for the westward bus. For Bryan and I, who were clueless about what bus to take to get from Grand Gaube to Triolet (13 kilometers), this greatly complicated our trip. As the mutual fear registered in our eyes, I had pulled my backpack’s straps tight and began sprinting for the eastern bus stop and Bryan started running for the other stop. After our failed attempts we met back in the middle to wait for another bus. Finally after another 45 minutes a bus going to Triolet arrived at the western stop.
Aside from the bus scheduling, the day had gone excellently. It was my first day at Grand Gaube which is the new center where Bryan teaches his Applied Theatre class on Mondays, Wednesday, and Friday and where I teach my Creative Writing class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That day we acted out “The Lion and the Mouse” and “The Wolf and the Lamb” and we identified the elements of creative writing within these short stories. The kids, whose ages range from 12-15 ,caught on to the lesson plan immediately and soon were developing their own short stories about Captain America, bodyguards, dragons, and football. What was really exciting to watch was when after the older kids understood the lesson, they then taught the younger kids in Creole so that the class moved at a quicker pace. Next Tuesday we will play a round of soccer before writing our experiences down and trying to get a bystander or reader to feel like he or she is actually participating in the story.
In my class at the Naw-N-Shaw Centre we are also making progress, however, it is a bit slower than my class at Grand Gaube. Today the students went over and beyond with their homework. The majority of my students completed their short stories about the soccer match, articulating their opinion on the outcome and often describing emotions, setting, and dialogue. Some students wrote two stories that they proudly presented to the class. Needless to say, I was barely able to control the huge smile that was bursting onto my face. After this great start though, the kids became a bit rowdy; fortunately, after some settling down we made it through the lesson plan on details and descriptions. I gave some of the troublemakers a lecture on leadership and made a point to acknowledge the well-behaved students. The students are now working on developing their descriptive writing and ability to convey details in short stories. Hopefully next week we will finish up the stories and begin discussing and experimenting with poetry as a form of storytelling.
Each new week there are challenges – sometimes we miss buses, sometimes the students are too rowdy or not receptive to the lesson plan, sometimes the students’ age difference complicates the lesson plan – but what is encouraging is that each day the students choose to show up to this class ready to learn. What is encouraging is that the students want to learn about creative writing and want to help others learn the art of storytelling. I look forward to these next four weeks full of creativity and discovery.
(picture coming as soon – internet permitting)