When You Think You’ve Seen it All…

By Ann Yanchura

Children are walking to school in the morning – often in the dark – in bare feet. 31 third graders sit in a classroom that has two benches, a half dozen tiny chairs, and a wooden pallet for seating. Mothers take turns cooking rice or maize over a fire for 260 students every day so that they have a meal. 30 parents come to school daily for 3 hours after the children have gone home so that they, too, can learn to read and write. Children take turns using a pencil because they don’t have their own, and they sharpen them with an old razor blade. Younger brothers and sisters help scavenge at the roadside dump to find useful things for their families. Teachers walk 45 minutes to school every day over a route that includes walking on the side of a terribly busy road with no sidewalk and then along a dirt road that is dusty in the dry season and flooded in the rainy season. Then these very same children and teachers spend hours together at these schools without enough seats or books or pencils or food. And still they smile and study and hug complete strangers who come to visit. The children are hard working, well mannered, and cheerful. The teachers are committed and caring, strict and challenging. I can’t explain it, but I feel honored to be a part of this. I can’t tell you how many times adults and children at these schools have shaken my hand or hugged me while saying, “YOU ARE WELCOME HERE.”

11 thoughts on “When You Think You’ve Seen it All…

  1. I completely understand why you feel honored to be there, Ann. You’re describing a community living and acting with dignity, warmth and generosity toward each other and strangers. Wish we all would live like that…

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Ann. I’m so proud of you and the team! My prayers are with you and your mission.

  3. I had chills reading your blog today! We need to share these experiences with our students. It may make them appreciate all they have and take for granted. I can’t wait to hear more! It sounds like you are there for a good reason, Ann!!

  4. Ann, Your blog post today was a poignant glimpse into the Zambian community, and gives readers a better idea of the challenges faced by the people you are working with. It also gives us all a clear picture of how the members of this community (and others in the area) face those challenges with smiles, determination, and love…good lessons for everyone!

    I found my time there two years ago equally inspirational and you do feel that you are part of something much bigger than you expected. It’s a situation where everyone gains new insights…us as the visitors and those we are working with. I came away with so much I could bring back to my students in Crystal Lake. Keep up the great writing and blog posts. I’m thoroughly enjoying the adventure along with you and the others. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

  5. Wow…what a way to start my day! I truly wish I was there to experience first hand what you are a part of. I read the post to my own kids to once again remind them of how truly appreciative we all should be. Keep us posted…I love to hear from you!

  6. Ann,
    Your post brought tears to my eyes! I will remember it each time I feel like complaining about petty things. I truly hope to be as brave as you are and do something like this someday. What a way to bring meaning to your life!

  7. It’s a good reminder that this is reality you are bringing to us via your blog posts. You should all feel honored to be right where you are. And we have the honor of being able to read and imagine the experiences ourselves.
    You gals are the embodiment of “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

  8. I love reading about what you are doing. It certainly helps to put things into a bigger perspective. Let me know where I can mail a box full of pencils and sharpeners.

  9. You teachers are an inspiration. The work that you are doing there, going half way around the globe to do it. I am honored to work with you all. I am going to put your post up in my own office to remind myself how lucky I am for all of the resources we have and the great PEOPLE RESOURCES we have every day!

    If all of our people thought like this imagine the power it would have on our kids and on us ALL as a true Profession Learning Community? Thank you for going and for updating us on your progress!!

  10. Ann, did I not tell you – you would be in your element with experience? Each word you wrote is filled with heart tugs, and many mindful moments to refelct on during your stay. (As well as on yourreturn home.) So proud of you – you all are doing a great job…and you know you are truly appreciated during your stay there,. Stay strong, get rest and enjoy the moments.
    Fondly, Clarann & Butch

  11. We have so much to be thankful for in America and we take it for granted. These conditions make what we complain about seem minuscule. So glad you’re there making a difference!

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