June 25, 2013
Well….today was an interesting day to say the least. We started our morning by going to Roma Girls, a small primary and secondary school funded by the government, but is also a Catholic school. There is only one class at each grade level, and the class sizes were about the same as the other schools we have seen. The rooms were wonderful, and so were the students and the staff. They sang us songs and gave us fritas when we left, which tasted just like fried dough.
From there we went to Libala to teach. Upon beginning the session, we quickly realized that all of the teachers were in a meeting and that we would be on our own for today. This school does not have a subbing system, so when teachers are absent it seems that they are either left on their own or split between the different classes at the grade level. Since all of the teachers were in meetings, Heather and I were in control for the day. It seemed overwhelming at first since there were 49 students in the classroom and we had no lesson plans. But we thought on our feet and were able to have a productive day. We completed the pen pal letters, played hangman and Simon says, did some math problems, and began to read a story from Heather’s kindle.
All in all it was a great day. Nobody got hurt and learning did happen. I pushed the edges of my comfort zone and came out successful on the other side.
June 24, 2013
Yesterday was amazing! We went to dinner at Mr. Chola’s house, a relative of Dr. Shandomo. He lives in a mansion with his wonderful family. I don’t think I have ever met anyone more humble than him. They are so giving and fed us a wonderful dinner yesterday, and opened their home to us. We had an amazing time!
They arranged for us to go to the tailors today and gave us fabric to make authentic African skirts. Such a wonderful surprise! We then went for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, and the food was amazing. I came back to the commonwealth after that, but some girls went back to their house to relax.
I feel like I have seen so much on this trip. I’ve now seen how the well off live, and I have also passed so many little towns where people live in what we would consider poverty. It has really made me think about what I have and I have a list a mile long of things I am grateful for. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing people every time I turn around.
June 22, 2013
Yesterday we arrived at the Mukambi safari lodge. I think it is the most beautiful place that I have ever stayed at. As we were driving through Kafue national park, we saw zebra so I knew this was going to be an amazing weekend. The chalets we are staying in are gorgeous. They serve us gourmet food, offer turn down service, and there is a beautiful view of the Kafue river outside my front door.
This morning we left at 6:30 in the morning for a game drive. We saw puku (I’m not sure I spelled that right-they look like deer), impala, an amazing male lion, hippos in the water, elephants crossing our path, monkeys, antelopes, and plenty of birds. We took a break and were served tea and coffee while watching hippos swim. It was an amazing morning.
Before and after lunch we got to relax and enjoy the sunshine. Some girls used the pool, while heather and I chose to sun ourselves by her chalet. We were listening to music, watching the monkeys play, when we looked to the other side and saw a warthog next to us!! She was so close that we could have touched her if we wanted to. But of course we didn’t. It was absolutely amazing.
At night we went on a sunset safari and saw hippos, crocodiles, and many beautiful birds. The sunset was amazing, and the moon was so big and bright. This weekend was a much needed break and I feel ready to start my last week in the classroom!
June 18, 2013
Today was our second full day in the classroom. I mainly observed again. I find the differences amazing. Teaching here seems to be very traditional. The teacher explains something, writes it on the board, gives a few examples, and then the students are given a lot of time to work on problems on their own. There does not seem to be any opportunity for group work from what I have observed. They are given long blocks of time to complete work. I think this is because they do not have textbooks or workbooks to use. Everything is copied from the board.
Schools here have 13 week terms, and the students are off of school in the months of April, August, and December. I almost think I would like this better than having three months off at one time!
I asked one student what her favorite part of school was. I was expecting her to tell me a specific subject, or that she liked seeing her friends. But she told me that her favorite part was “Learning. I love to learn.” I found that to be just amazing. Such a difference from students I have talked to at home. Many tell me they like lunch, gym, or recess.
Another big surprise came as the students got quite chatty. The teacher asked them “Do you want to go home?” They all replied “No!” in unison. So she replied “Well behave yourselves then!” I feel that if this would have happened in the schools back home, at least some students would say yes, they want to go home. I think this shows how much the children here in Zambia value learning and their education.
June 17, 2013
Today we went to the chikumbuso orphanage. That’s where we donated everything I brought, mostly donated by my amazing friends and family. The women that live there are widows with children and many of the children there are orphans. They were so happy! I have videos of the songs that they sang us thanking us for what we did.
We were all in tears at one point or another while we were there. The women’s stories were just amazing. I’m so glad I was able to help them out and look forward to helping them more in the future. The feeling I got today was just amazing :)
June 16, 2013
This weekend was amazing! It took us like 8 hours to do what should have been a 5-6 hour drive. And their roads are full of pot holes. It’s nuts. It was crazy to see all of the little villages that we passed. It completely changed the way I view things.
The people in the villages we passed lived in straw huts. I’m assuming they didn’t have electricity because they were all dark when we passed them at night. I don’t know what the water situation is. It’s sad to think about all of the things they probably don’t have. But at the same time, if you’ve never had it you don’t know what you are missing. Everyone here has been so welcoming and so grateful for everything we are doing for them. They seem to have such a greater appreciation for life and the things that they do have. Sometimes I think we are the less fortunate ones…
Saturday morning i got to watch hercules while eating breakfast :) Victoria falls was absolutely amazing. I can’t even explain it. It’s so much bigger than Niagara Falls and so much more beautiful. The pictures I took don’t do it justice. We saw so many baboons! It was crazy. One tried to take my friend Jessica’s bag just like we were warned would happen lol. I wore my backpack on my front so I could protect it lol. We walked across a bridge that took us through the mist. Except it was more like a downpour than mist. We got soaked. Im going to need new sneakers when I get home. Some of the girls bungee jumped off the bridge. It looked incredible. It’s supposed to be the highest bridge people are allowed to do that on. And I set foot in Zimbabwe!! I had one foot on each side of the border. Incredible.
We also went to a traditional market. I’m not very good at bargaining. People kept telling me sad stories so I ended up buying a lot of things.
On Sunday you’ll never guess what I did. Not only did I ride an elephant, but I pet and walked with lions and cheetahs!! I have the most amazing photographs! This weekend was just the most amazing experience. I walked cheetahs on a leash and walked lions by their tails, with only a stick to put in their mouths if I needed to. I have lion hair on my sleeves instead of dog fur. A cheetah liked the back of my hand. I fed an elephant through its trunk and directly in its mouth. It was awesome!
June 10, 2013
As we approached Africa, I was getting nervous. I couldn’t believe this day is finally here! I felt like I didn’t know what to expect, and I was worried about going through customs. I know now that I had nothing to worry about! It was incredible to step off of the plane and onto the pavement. I’ve never done that before. It was cool to see the plane up close. From the beginning, everyone in Zambia was so friendly! We all got help with our bags. I was relieved that mine made it to Africa in one place. Customs was a lot easier than I expected as well. It was intimidating being around all of those people in uniforms. They seemed so serious!
Driving to the Youth Center was awesome! It’s cool to be in the car while it is driving on the left side of the road. The scenery was amazing! Africa is much more beautiful than I expected. Our rooms are kind of cramped with all of our luggage, but I’m grateful to have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in at night. Falling asleep the first night here reminded me of my nights camping when I was young. It gets chilly at night, so I was a little cold lying in bed, listening to crickets, and I even smelled smoke from a fire people were having in the courtyard.
This morning we went to the University of Zambia. The campus is beautiful! They have an outdoor area which I compared to the Union at Buffalo State, or the bookstore. It had a stand to sell school supplies and also had stands that were selling food. I wish our school was like that! We met with some of the heads of the different departments in the School of Education, and met with the Dean as well. They were all so personable and friendly, and gave us lots of helpful information. The school system here is so different from what we have back in the states. I’m looking forward to tomorrow when we start visiting the different schools in the area.
I hope that all of my friends and family are doing well. It has been hard for me to not have constant communication with everyone back home. Maybe I can finally break my cell phone habit. I’m really learning to take the time to enjoy the little things around me. It has been nice to have some downtime to relax with my thoughts.
Hope to talk with you all again soon! Goodnight :)
June 8th, 2013
Well, we had a delay at JFK which caused us to miss our flight today to Lusaka. I think this was a blessing in disguise as we are all just exhausted.
This evening we got to tour Dubai! This city is even more beautiful than I would have imagined! We got to visit many beautiful locations and went to the Persian gulf and I got to put my feet in the sand :) those who know me know that I love putting my feet in the sand.
We then went to see the largest building in the world and got to see a fountain show. We also walked through the huge mall! It was amazing :) they even had a Tim Hortons :) I really enjoyed visiting the market. It was great to experience some of the true culture and have an authentic experience.
Today has been amazing. Time for bed :) I can’t wait for Africa tomorrow!!
June 7th, 2013
It’s currently 7:38 at night Buffalo time and I am writing this on the plane. I’ve been traveling since early this morning and I still have a long way to go!
I’m en route to Dubai right now, and this flight is great! We’ve had so much good, there are lots of movies to choose from, and the pop cans are in a different language! (Arabic I think) The flight crew speaks an amazing number of languages, and I love listening to their accents!
I’m so relieved to be on the way with this wonderful group of people. As we talk on the plane, it feels like I’ve known them for so long! This is great!
I’m so excited to see what Dubai’s airport looks like, and of course I’m looking forward to being in Africa!!
June 4, 2013
Welcome to my blog! I can’t believe that we leave for Zambia in three days! It seems like just yesterday I was talking to my family and friends about wanting to do this and now here it is.
I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of my family and friends. They mean the world to me. My parents have been absolutely amazing and I can’t thank them enough.
When I first heard of this experience, I knew immediately that this was something that I wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to travel, and I figured Africa was the best place to start!
I think this experience will change me in all the right ways. I look forward to learning about the people of Zambia and their culture. I also look forward to observing and teaching in way that may be different from the way we teach here. I’m slightly nervous about the flight, since we will be traveling for a full day. I also feel like I don’t know quite what to expect when we get there, but I’m looking forward to every second of it!
I can’t wait for the safari, and I look forward to sharing my pictures, stories, and experiences with my friends, family, and all of the classrooms I come into contact with in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to visit my page, next time I post it will be from Africa!!