Felicia Black
Felicia Black
South Africa 2011- 2012
VIEW FINAL REPORT
I am a recent Belmont graduate (Class of 2011) and I am going back to South Africa. I first went to South Africa in the fall of my junior year at Belmont and I had so much fun I decided to apply for the Lumos award and have been lucky enough to go again! Check out my previous blog at http://coming2sa.blogspot.com/ I will also be updating that blog as I return to South Africa so check ‘em out! Read More About Felicia →

Reunion!

Wednesday there was a strike. I really don’t know anything more than that and that they shut down the school because of it. We were lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) because we found out the day before so there was time to make a plan. I was excited because I thought I may get to go to the orphanage and luckily I did. I was so happy to be reunited with my kids!

I don’t think I’ve ever spent an entire day at the orphanage. It’s usually only been half a day so being there the entire day was interesting. It started out crazy because the carers (the people who take care of the kids) gave them sweets at NINE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING. Really? So you can imagine how the rest of the day was: manic…and I loved every second of it.

I was placed with the older kids who are around 6 or 7 years old. Angie usually works with them but she was sick that day so I took her kids. They are such smart boys! For real. We were reading story and I was asking them about colours and animals and they all knew them! Compare this to my grade 4’s who didn’t even know what a bird looked like. There was this hilarious book called “No, Daniel!” and they loved it. It was about this naughty boy who kept on doing horrible things. There was even a scene when Daniel was butt naked. They thought it was hilarious (of course). They’re really good at reading as well. I’m not sure if it’s because they can actually read or if they’re just memorized the story but they do at least know how to follow along with their finger.

The lessons went well. Like I said the boys are really smart. I loved seeing how a “normal” day at the orphanage goes. I say “normal” but it is anything but normal but I think that’s the fun of it. No two days are the same.

I thoroughly enjoyed music and physical time. The songs Cheryl has the kids singing are crazy and so much fun. We tried to teach the kids the macarena but they were not having it. They certainly loved watching me doing it though. Their smiles were priceless.

During the break, I got baby Anathi out. He is still my favourite. He is so adorable. Seriously, I cannot say no to that face and he’s such a happy baby. I love being around him.

Play time was crazy. I started this thing on Fridays when we used to visit where I would carry one of the kids on my back and of course once you do one you gotta do them all. “Me, teacher! Me!” I definitely got my workout. Overall it was a wonderful. I will for sure get to go next Wednesday (March 21st) and that’ll be the last time that I will for sure get to go see the kids. I am not looking forward to saying goodbye. How can I say goodbye to their precious little faces? :(

Mexican Fiesta!

Last Friday something beautiful happened. We all got together and created something wonderful: a Mexican feast. It all started last Monday when I was looking through a book called Possum Magic. It’s this very cute story about this Grandma Possum who turns her granddaughter invisible and then she has trouble turning her back. So they go around Australia trying different uniquely Australian foods to try to turn her back. Most of the stuff I had never heard of so I asked Angie about it. She explained most of them and then we got a map so I could see some of the different cities of Australia (I only really knew about Sydney).  This soon prompted Angie to ask about America and as I was flipping through various books to find a map I found one which included information on both America and Mexico. I was instantly distracted by the local foods from Mexico including burritos, fajitas, etc. I love Mexican food and South Africa just doesn’t do it right. Forget American food (whatever that is) I miss Mexican food and so the idea for a Mexican Fiesta was born.

We went all out. We first made a list of all the things we wanted to make this included 7 layer dip, bean quesadilla (for our vegetarian friends), chicken fajitas, homemade guacamole and salsa and finally for dessert apple enchiladas. Needless to say, our shopping trip for supplies took a while. Charlotte was in charge of decorations but they didn’t have any Mexican piñatas which was heartbreaking and they didn’t have some of the essentials like black beans, or refried beans or even nachos. It was tragic. But we improvised with kidney and butter beans and plain plain potato chips (not the same I know but it’s better than nothing). It was still really good.

for every month we've been together :)

We all banded together to get the job done. We even had flowers on the table thanks to Nadia and my finance (he sent flowers for our anniversary J). We also had place mats and name plates. The end was a massive feast. I have included recipes if anyone is interested in having their own Mexican fiesta. I would highly recommend it.

ACJ’s First Dance Class

Happy Leap Day everyone! I have learned a lot about this weird day. Apparently this is the one day deemed acceptable for women to ask men to marry them (who knew?) and if you’re pregnant and you’re due for February 29 you have to decide whether your child’s birthday will be February 28th or March 1st. Again who knew? Because I sure didn’t. Anyways useless information for you.

This post is really about the start of something new (cue High school musical soundtrack). Too bad it’s starting less than four weeks before I leave. Oh well, at least it’s starting. I think I’ve mention this before but last term we were supposed to start dance club. I honestly can’t remember why it didn’t start but for whatever reason it didn’t. Then this term rolled around and I gotta be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. I was afraid of failing and also not sure if I wanted to put more work into the school. That sounds incredibly selfish but with the load I already have I’m exhausted. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it, let alone be good at it.

Today proved that all my concerns were unwarranted (sorta). I was exhausted especially since I also had Nia today but the class itself rocked! Now let me first say that I had help, A LOT of help. On Sunday when I was trying (yet again) to choreograph the moves to at least one song (how hard could it be?), I asked Nadia one of the teaching volunteers to help me. She agreed and then I found out that Megan another teaching volunteer took dance in high school. Hello, I think we have a dance team. We spent the next hour or so choreographing an awesome dance routine to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. We didn’t end up choreographing the entire thing but we got halfway through it and the routine is amazing

So today was utter chaos which is to be expected with anything connected to the school. Two of the dancers showed up on time at 1:30 which was impressive. We had to go around to all the Grade 7 classrooms to get the learners. We have 10 learners in all (2 from each class). I wasn’t sure if we were going to have any guys but we have 4 so I think we’re going to try to do a fight scene or do something cool for them.

The dance class itself went really well. Megan was amazing. She’s taken classes before while my history with dancing is very informal. I’ve only taken a few YMCA dance classes (zumba) and then of course Nia which I’ve been taking for a while now here. So basically it was all of Megan. She lead us through a warm-up and stretches and when the kids heard Waka Waka, they went crazy. We may have to do a routine to that too. We taught them a few of the moves from the Beat It dance and we got through a good portion of it before it was time to go. It was kind of hard to do because we were in the GVI classroom. We were supposed to be in the staff which is much bigger but they were doing some presentation in there so we couldn’t. Hopefully next week we’ll be in the staff room and be able to spread out and really move! We have three more weeks to get a routine down and we might even have a performance. Stay tuned for pictures and video updates.

ESL and the Sunset Cruise

Tuesday 21 February

Today was interesting. I worked with my English teacher on writing a friendly letter and comprehension. It never ceases to amaze me how hard the English language is. I take for granted a lot of things in English, especially “hearing” that something isn’t right. For example I would never write something like: The girl feel frustrating. Because I know that doesn’t sound right. How in the world do you teach a child hear if something doesn’t sound right? It’s very difficult, but it wasn’t too bad. I made sure to use an example with my group before having them write their own personal letter and they were actually pretty good. It’s amazing to me what some of the learners write. The group I had was great but once I got into the classroom, it was a struggle. Sometimes I would read a sentence and have no idea what they were trying to say. Then when I asked, I was met with blank stares or just a repetition of the sentence I didn’t understand.

After break, I worked with another group on a story. We first read through the story and then I had them identify unfamiliar words and as homework they were supposed to look up the meanings of the words (the teacher’s idea not mine). I thought it might be better to do that first but it didn’t seem to matter with the group I had. We read through the story several times and finally underlined the parts of the story that answered the questions they had to answer. It took about an hour but they seemed to get it which is the main thing and they managed to write beautiful full sentences!

That took me up until the end of my day because after the last group I had lunch and then by the time I was finished with that it was the end of the day. Today workshop was doing volcanoes. It was really cool. They actually had the kids make their own volcanoes and then combined vinegar and baking soda to make them explode. The kids loved it! It was great to see their faces as the lava erupted out of the volcanoes.

After school, a group of us decided to go on a sunset cruise. There is a guy in the local area that does sunset cruises for cheap. It was beautiful. The boat was a decent size with a top deck with a small bench for seating. We even saw seals, apparently there is a large population in our area which I didn’t really know. Words really can’t describe so I’ll let the pictures explain the rest. (Notice my awesome shorts? Those are the new shorts I bought in Cape Town!)

 

 

 

ESL and the Sunset Cruise

Tuesday 21 February

Today was interesting. I worked with my English teacher on writing a friendly letter and comprehension. It never ceases to amaze me how hard the English language is. I take for granted a lot of things in English, especially “hearing” that something isn’t right. For example I would never write something like: The girl feel frustrating. Because I know that doesn’t sound right. How in the world do you teach a child hear if something doesn’t sound right? It’s very difficult, but it wasn’t too bad. I made sure to use an example with my group before having them write their own personal letter and they were actually pretty good. It’s amazing to me what some of the learners write. The group I had was great but once I got into the classroom, it was a struggle. Sometimes I would read a sentence and have no idea what they were trying to say. Then when I asked, I was met with blank stares or just a repetition of the sentence I didn’t understand.

After break, I worked with another group on a story. We first read through the story and then I had them identify unfamiliar words and as homework they were supposed to look up the meanings of the words (the teacher’s idea not mine). I thought it might be better to do that first but it didn’t seem to matter with the group I had. We read through the story several times and finally underlined the parts of the story that answered the questions they had to answer. It took about an hour but they seemed to get it which is the main thing and they managed to write beautiful full sentences!

That took me up until the end of my day because after the last group I had lunch and then by the time I was finished with that it was the end of the day. Today workshop was doing volcanoes. It was really cool. They actually had the kids make their own volcanoes and then combined vinegar and baking soda to make them explode. The kids loved it! It was great to see their faces as the lava erupted out of the volcanoes.

After school, a group of us decided to go on a sunset cruise. There is a guy in the local area that does sunset cruises for cheap. It was beautiful. The boat was a decent size with a top deck with a small bench for seating. We even saw seals, apparently there is a large population in our area which I didn’t really know. Words really can’t describe so I’ll let the pictures explain the rest. (Notice my awesome shorts? Those are the new shorts I bought in Cape Town!)

 

 

 

Signs of Improvement

Wow. I haven’t written in a while. Sorry about that. I have been busy but mostly I haven’t written because I haven’t had anything good to say. These past couple weeks have not been good. Suffice it to say that I am tired of being taken advantage of and underutilized. But actually the end of this week got better. I talked to Mel about it (I was hoping that that wouldn’t have been necessary but it was) and she had a meeting with my teachers and the head of the department. To my horror, it was just MY teachers and didn’t include Joel’s teachers which means my teachers knew that I was the one complaining (they told me this later) and that I wasn’t too happy. I was horrified. That’s not how the meeting was supposed to go. It was supposed to be a general meeting with all the teachers and just giving them suggestions for improvements. I was horrified but glad that I spoke up because I did not want to spend my last weeks here grading papers (which is what I had been doing).

Thankfully, the teachers weren’t too upset at me (at least not to my face) and I finally got to do more. I got out of the classroom and into the library working with small groups of students, which is what I was doing before. I’m not sure why I stopped doing that but for some reason after I got back from holiday, everything was different.

So the last couple days this week were good which was good since I think I was at my breaking point. There are still other frustrations like why the government finds it necessary to teach two different kinds of number systems to the kids (our teachers choose Egyptian hieroglyphics and Roman numerals). It seemed like a waste of time but at least I was out of the classroom and actually I taught an English lesson and it went really well. That is amazing for me because usually I struggle a lot with English (who made up these rules anyway?). The students struggle a lot with comprehension and answering questions in complete sentences. Often they just copy sentences out of the passage instead of actually understanding what is being asked and how to answer it. But I broke down my lesson a lot and we went through the story several times and even though it took an hour and half, they wrote their sentences beautifully and seemed to comprehend. That’s a big step forward.

Yesterday was a really nice day. Sarah, one of the long term intern and I went into Cape Town via the train. It took two hours. It wasn’t bad though because we were in no rush and we did eventually get there. We even meet this coloured man who talked to us almost the entire way and he made the ride seem much quicker. Once we got to Cape Town we headed for Green Square Market where I started negotiating the prices for the things I wanted. I always enjoy doing that. I wish we did that in the States. It’s so much more fun. Unfortunately the thing I really wanted, these awesome pants in a ton of different colours, that price was not up for negotiation. It took some of the fun out of it but I am very happy with my purchase. I also bought my fiancé (still have to get used to that) an ostrich egg, which I was able to get a good price on.

After the market, we went and had lunch on Long Street at this amazingly cheap and delicious 24/7 Indian restaurant. It is a little piece of heaven. They give you so much food! My chicken tikka masala and garlic naan was delicious. Sarah and I were both very full after that meal.

After lunch we met up with Angie, one of the girls from our house who was staying in Cape Town for the weekend. We decided to go to the beach since it was such a gorgeous day. I suggested we take the minibus because they’re super cheap and I personally think they’re a lot of fun (even if they are dangerous). They try to cram as many people as possible in a tiny minibus and that’s exactly what they did to us. I was fine because we were only cramped for a bit before more room opened up.

We ended up at Camps Bay and if you ever come to Cape Town you must go there. It is gorgeous. It’s in a very wealthy part of Cape Town and the beach is beautiful. Yesterday the water was freezing but Angie and I jumped in anyway and it felt great after being in a stuffy minibus. We couldn’t stay long because Sarah and I had to catch the train back home but we soaked in a few rays and even got some smoothies before getting a cab back to Cape Town. We made our train no problem.

Our ride back was less eventual since it was shorter but we were joined by this mother and her three adorable daughters. One of the daughters was cracking me up. She kept trying to steal a balloon from her baby sister and then when that failed tried to get a balloon from someone she didn’t even know. Finally the girl with the balloon gave it to the little girl and she was very pleased with herself. It was hilarious. It was wonderful Saturday.

Signs of Improvement

Wow. I haven’t written in a while. Sorry about that. I have been busy but mostly I haven’t written because I haven’t had anything good to say. These past couple weeks have not been good. Suffice it to say that I am tired of being taken advantage of and underutilized. But actually the end of this week got better. I talked to Mel about it (I was hoping that that wouldn’t have been necessary but it was) and she had a meeting with my teachers and the head of the department. To my horror, it was just MY teachers and didn’t include Joel’s teachers which means my teachers knew that I was the one complaining (they told me this later) and that I wasn’t too happy. I was horrified. That’s not how the meeting was supposed to go. It was supposed to be a general meeting with all the teachers and just giving them suggestions for improvements. I was horrified but glad that I spoke up because I did not want to spend my last weeks here grading papers (which is what I had been doing).

Thankfully, the teachers weren’t too upset at me (at least not to my face) and I finally got to do more. I got out of the classroom and into the library working with small groups of students, which is what I was doing before. I’m not sure why I stopped doing that but for some reason after I got back from holiday, everything was different.

So the last couple days this week were good which was good since I think I was at my breaking point. There are still other frustrations like why the government finds it necessary to teach two different kinds of number systems to the kids (our teachers choose Egyptian hieroglyphics and Roman numerals). It seemed like a waste of time but at least I was out of the classroom and actually I taught an English lesson and it went really well. That is amazing for me because usually I struggle a lot with English (who made up these rules anyway?). The students struggle a lot with comprehension and answering questions in complete sentences. Often they just copy sentences out of the passage instead of actually understanding what is being asked and how to answer it. But I broke down my lesson a lot and we went through the story several times and even though it took an hour and half, they wrote their sentences beautifully and seemed to comprehend. That’s a big step forward.

Yesterday was a really nice day. Sarah, one of the long term intern and I went into Cape Town via the train. It took two hours. It wasn’t bad though because we were in no rush and we did eventually get there. We even meet this coloured man who talked to us almost the entire way and he made the ride seem much quicker. Once we got to Cape Town we headed for Green Square Market where I started negotiating the prices for the things I wanted. I always enjoy doing that. I wish we did that in the States. It’s so much more fun. Unfortunately the thing I really wanted, these awesome pants in a ton of different colours, that price was not up for negotiation. It took some of the fun out of it but I am very happy with my purchase. I also bought my fiancé (still have to get used to that) an ostrich egg, which I was able to get a good price on.

After the market, we went and had lunch on Long Street at this amazingly cheap and delicious 24/7 Indian restaurant. It is a little piece of heaven. They give you so much food! My chicken tikka masala and garlic naan was delicious. Sarah and I were both very full after that meal.

After lunch we met up with Angie, one of the girls from our house who was staying in Cape Town for the weekend. We decided to go to the beach since it was such a gorgeous day. I suggested we take the minibus because they’re super cheap and I personally think they’re a lot of fun (even if they are dangerous). They try to cram as many people as possible in a tiny minibus and that’s exactly what they did to us. I was fine because we were only cramped for a bit before more room opened up.

We ended up at Camps Bay and if you ever come to Cape Town you must go there. It is gorgeous. It’s in a very wealthy part of Cape Town and the beach is beautiful. Yesterday the water was freezing but Angie and I jumped in anyway and it felt great after being in a stuffy minibus. We couldn’t stay long because Sarah and I had to catch the train back home but we soaked in a few rays and even got some smoothies before getting a cab back to Cape Town. We made our train no problem.

Our ride back was less eventual since it was shorter but we were joined by this mother and her three adorable daughters. One of the daughters was cracking me up. She kept trying to steal a balloon from her baby sister and then when that failed tried to get a balloon from someone she didn’t even know. Finally the girl with the balloon gave it to the little girl and she was very pleased with herself. It was hilarious. It was wonderful Saturday.

The Coolest Cats

It was way too difficult to pick just a few pictures of the older kids because they are so cute. They will seriously steal your heart away.

First up is Nugget. Yeah, that’s right. Her name is Nugget and don’t let that innocent face fool you, she is a handful to say the least. She’s adorable though and I love her. She has a brother and a sister (that I know of). Her brother is the adorable Anathi, featuring in my last post and Nobulelo is featured here. Nugget is super smart when you get her to listen and sit down but that’s the problem she doesn’t sit down or listen, she runs around and has a habit of hitting you on the bumb. What a lady!

Next up Nombulelo. Isn’t she gorgeous? This girl is too cute and she has the sweetest little voice. She’s not as much trouble as Nugget but she gets into her fair share of trouble. I love this picture of her because she looks so happy.

And then there’s Athula (the rest of the pictures are below). She has the most beautiful skin! I had the privilege of working with her for a bit one to one and she’s very smart. She was a joy to work with and she always looked forward to our one to one sessions. Can you tell how much I love these kids?

 

 

This one is just me and my girls: Aseza, Nugget and Nombulelo. Aseza is probably my favourite. She is such a character and we always have so much fun together.

Next is Siyabonga, Mama Lumka’s grandson. Mama Lumka is the woman in charge of both the orphanage and the nursery, in case I haven’t mentioned that before. You see this kid everywhere: at the orphanage and at the nursery. He’s super cute and has the best smile.

And that cutie is Masithembe. I haven’t spent much time with him but he is super cute.

And last but certainly not least is Yofeza. For the first few months that I was here he always looked sad but I saw him. But he has a beautiful smile and he’s a sweet kid.

Well, that’s all for now. There are more kids are the orphanage but I don’t have pictures of them yet. I’ll be sure to update you guys real soon. I get to see my kids on Friday. Can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

The Coolest Cats

It was way too difficult to pick just a few pictures of the older kids because they are so cute. They will seriously steal your heart away.

First up is Nugget. Yeah, that’s right. Her name is Nugget and don’t let that innocent face fool you, she is a handful to say the least. She’s adorable though and I love her. She has a brother and a sister (that I know of). Her brother is the adorable Anathi, featuring in my last post and Nobulelo is featured here. Nugget is super smart when you get her to listen and sit down but that’s the problem she doesn’t sit down or listen, she runs around and has a habit of hitting you on the bumb. What a lady!

Next up Nombulelo. Isn’t she gorgeous? This girl is too cute and she has the sweetest little voice. She’s not as much trouble as Nugget but she gets into her fair share of trouble. I love this picture of her because she looks so happy.

And then there’s Athula (the rest of the pictures are below). She has the most beautiful skin! I had the privilege of working with her for a bit one to one and she’s very smart. She was a joy to work with and she always looked forward to our one to one sessions. Can you tell how much I love these kids?

 

 

This one is just me and my girls: Aseza, Nugget and Nombulelo. Aseza is probably my favourite. She is such a character and we always have so much fun together.

Next is Siyabonga, Mama Lumka’s grandson. Mama Lumka is the woman in charge of both the orphanage and the nursery, in case I haven’t mentioned that before. You see this kid everywhere: at the orphanage and at the nursery. He’s super cute and has the best smile.

And that cutie is Masithembe. I haven’t spent much time with him but he is super cute.

And last but certainly not least is Yofeza. For the first few months that I was here he always looked sad but I saw him. But he has a beautiful smile and he’s a sweet kid.

Well, that’s all for now. There are more kids are the orphanage but I don’t have pictures of them yet. I’ll be sure to update you guys real soon. I get to see my kids on Friday. Can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

Focus on the Positives

This week has been crap to be perfectly honest. It has been overwhelming, draining, exhausting...I could go on but no one wants to hear about my bad week so let’s focus on the positives like talking about the rest of my day last Friday. It was a great day. Every two weeks we get to go to orphanage and seriously I count down the days until I get to see my kids again. They are so cute. So this week instead of me focusing on my words and then adding pictures, this post will be heavy on the pictures and light on the words. Changing it up. Plus you have got to see these kids. I’m in love. I get to see them again in a week and I can’t wait!

First up is Ricardo. Before I left for holiday Beth had me write profiles for each of the babies so I’ll let you imagine baby Ricardo telling you all about himself:

My name is Ricardo and I’m awesome! I enjoy walks to the chicken coop or around the orphanage. I’ll even show you around (so please don’t pick me up)! I can say “teacher” and I will say it often. I like to play catch and practice kicking the ball. I’m a very happy baby and it doesn’t take much to make me smile. Give me a raspberry on the belly and I give you the best smile ever!

Ricardo is adorable. You can’t see it in this picture but he used to have the cutest baby dreads ever. They shaved all the kids’ heads over holiday :( Not sure why. But I love this picture because he was obviously going to town over whatever they were eating for lunch. Love him!

 

This cutie pie is Xabiso. It’s pronunced with a click but it’s pretty much impossible to explain how it goes without actually just saying it. So suffice it to say that the X is his name gives it a click. The other letters in Xhosa that give clicks are C and Q. Here’s his profile:

My name is Xabiso and I generally have a sad face but when I smile, I light up the room. I like tickling, sliding and swinging. I love music so give me a bell and I’ll show you what I can do. I also enjoy playing ball and I’m practicing to be the next big soccer star, so let’s get that soccer ball out! I can walk (obviously) so please don’t pick me up. Generally when I don’t get my way, I’m not happy but I can easily be soothed. I can also say “teacher” and I’ll show you the ropes around here.

Xabiso is a character. He loves being picked up and will cry unless you either walk away or pick him up but he is too cute. It’s awesome to see him progress because he only started walking last year!

Next up we have Lisa Khanya. The only girl among the babies. She is a hand full! Enjoy her star studded profile:

My name is Lisa Khanya and I’m a diva. I’m pretty happy if I have a bottle in my mouth but if you take it away from me, watch out! I will not be a happy camper. I can sit on my own no problem but I need a lot of coaxing to crawl. I like blocks and listening to stories. Generally, I’m very shy and quiet unless I don’t get my way.

I worked with Lisa Khanya for a few days and for the life of me I couldn’t get her to crawl. Thankfully she has made lots of progress since the holiday and is crawling around and even walking with some help. She is a great big tub of love :)

Last but certainly not least in baby Anathi. I think he could definitely pass for my child and no one would know the difference. I absoultely love this picture of me and him and more importantly his sister, Nugget took the picture (more on her later). Enjoy his profile:

My name is Anathi and I’m probably the cutest baby you’ll ever meet. Plus I’m generally a very happy baby and I love playtime! I’m teething right now so I will put everything in my mouth. I can crawl and stand up with your help. I love to cuddle but be careful because I have very sharp nails and I will scratch you. I’m very curious about the world and love playing with toys that make a lot of noise. Give me a rattle and I’m set!

Seriously have you ever seen a cuter baby? It is going to be so hard saying goodbye to all these beautiful little faces :( But I won’t think about that now. For now I will cherish every single second Friday that never comes soon enough and is always over before I want it to be. Next post we’ll talk about the older kids. They will rock your world.