We did a lot of things in Africa, but this was my favorite.
Friends, I'd like you to meet the beautiful people at the Bwerenga School.
Bwerenga is a little community out of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. If you are familiar with Sixty Feet, then you'll know that this is where Mama Katherine and Pastor Ernest live and where Faith and Boaz teach and work.
And it made me very, very happy.
Not only did going there give me a chance to witness some of the happiest children I've ever seen, but it also gave me a chance to do something I never thought I'd EVER do: teach Math. In case you're new around these here parts, I teach, well taught, high school English. I've recently resigned because I fully believe God is calling me to pursue other options. Anyway, teaching math was not on my list of things I wanted to do in Africa, but teach math I did.
Here's a picture of me and some of the kids in my class. I was trying hard to get a picture of the little boy in the red shirt to my right, the one NOT looking at the camera. He was possibly the most precious little boy I've ever met, so timid and shy and so very smart. He knew all the answers to the questions I asked the class. He also had the biggest hernia on his belly I've ever seen, but that is neither here nor there.
It was so interesting to me to observe the differences between this school in Africa and our schools back home. But more than I noticed the differences, I noticed how we are all essentially the same. Kids will be kids. Teachers will be teachers. People will be people, black, white, red, or brown, African, Indian, Chinese, American, or any other nationality.
I was also so very impressed with the teacher I worked with that day.
Here she is preparing for the day's lesson and getting ready to explain to me how to best teach take away (or subtraction, as we would call it) to her kiddos.
And what precious kiddos they were....
I cannot tell you how amazed I was with how efficient they were with their supplies. You'll notice there are no desks in this room. The kids all sit in these plastic chairs. They cart them back and forth every day from their classroom to the main room, where they do their Bible studies and crafts. They also do a lot of standing-- their teaching style is much more active and hands on than anything I've ever seen here. They dance and stomp and move around...constantly.
And the posters on the walls? The teachers DRAW those. Impressed? I certainly was.
I was also impressed with how well-behaved they were. They were so sweet and so grateful for the opportunity to go to school, something I think Americans so often take for granted.
They were so friendly and so very happy.
I honestly think I could have stayed there for a long, long time.
This is Faith, one of the most poised and gracious women I have every met. She's the director of the Bwerenga School, and let me just say that I'm pretty sure she works harder in one day than I usually did in one week here in America.
For my former students, you'll recognize this handwriting on the board, except for once I'm not talking about pronouns or literary devices.
The only negative thing I have to say about the whole day has to do with these dang pencils. I don't know where they found these, but they are terrible. I literally spent half of the morning sharpening these because they literally broke every time a child touched one to his or her paper. And a nice, electric pencil sharpener? Forget it. I was hand sharpening these with what had to be the most pitiful excuse for a dollar store pencil sharpener ever created. I certainly left with a new found appreciation for effective equipment.
But this is what impressed me the most. This, my dear teacher friends, are my teacher's handwritten lesson plans....for just this one lesson. She writes several of these for every day that she teaches. She also hand writes the work that each of her students will do that day in each student's workbook; there are no copy machines in the Bwerenga School.
Needless to say, I left with an overwhelming respect for these teachers and how hard they work. I also taught a little girl how to write the number four, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. The look on her little face was priceless; she was so very proud of herself.
Bwerenga School, I already miss you and have asked Lee on more than one occasion when we can come back and see you....except next time, I think Libby needs to come too.