By Mal Keenan
Educational: Fully understanding that when I brought four teachers to a foreign country, I became a travel guide, schedule planner, and Zambia expert…whether I had the answers or not…my super great team always looked to me for guidance…Responsibility 101
Funny: Being handed a roll of pink toilet paper at Shine on Monday before tea and white bread breakfast. Wondered if that was my Thank You gift for coming back…then realized everyone got a roll…no paper in the bathroom as it would just get stolen.
Promising: The older kids that have graduated Shine are still in school – most in grade 8. One of the students I’m keeping track of is Jonathan. He has shifted out of the government school (celebrate) and is attending African Vision of Hope School (on scholarship) near Kablonga compound. He walks an hour to and from school, but is driven to move forward in life. Need to figure out how he can attend college in the US.
Frustrating: Last week I was trying to navigate ridiculous traffic in Lusaka for over two hours with people everywhere – finding a place to park – standing in very long line – only to learn there were NO bus tickets to Livingstone available. Drat! (Worry and Anxiety had also set in at that point)
Informative: Demonstrating the gradual release of responsibility for teachers and then talking more about the “We Do” – something that is not part of the classroom instruction here in Zambia.
Enlightening: Discussing the importance of English Language learners with teachers, sharing the stages of language acquisition with them, and talking about how to best balance English and Nyanja in their classrooms.
Uplifting: Seeing the kids at the My Father’s Homes in Chongwe – these beautiful children are growing up in safe and loving homes with a mamas who care for them…what a blessing for these most vulnerable orphan children.
Inspirational: Talking with teachers at Mango Grove School and learning how they are deeply committed to their profession and to their students…these teachers earn almost nothing in salary, yet walk 45 minutes one way to teach every day at the community school.
Aggravating: Every night at 6ish the power goes out. It goes out ‘til at least 8:30…some nights 10:00. Lots of lesson planning in the dark with headlamps on and lots of peanut butter sandwiches as there’s no electricity to cook dinner.
Hopeful: Students like Pierce – my new seven year old pal at Shine. He has the spark. He is quite smart and has come to school every day with a letter for me…and every night I write him back. Others that give me hope include Joseph, Chrisma, David, and Frieda.
Challenging: Driving to Shine each day – avoiding holes and big rocks in the red dirt, scraping the bottom of the car anyways because there were five of us weighing the car down…and then keeping an eye out for small children,dogs, and other pedestrians walking along the narrow alleys in the compounds. So many “Jesus Take the Wheel” moments. 🙂
Amazing: Seeing all the books A to Z has sent to Shine Reading Academy’s library – an oasis in the middle of a poverty and despair.
Remarkable: Watching the four Crystal Lake teachers do what they do best. These women are skillful, intelligent, and have a gift to share with the teachers and students here in Zambia. Ann, Mariann, Anastasia, and Kalan have done an outstanding job and I’m blown away by their love for literacy and passion for teaching.
By Mal Keenan