Today was dynamic. I woke up entirely inspired to go into town on my own and make some headway on Operation Di*rt. I rose at 7 and finished writing the final examination for my Joy Girls while I waited for Mama to wake up so I could tell her I was going to town. When she woke, she had news of her own. She has been back and forth to the hospital the past few days, trying to identify the source of the weakness she has been feeling recently. The doctors identified the problem and have advised that she undergo surgery on Monday. She said there are a few things she wants to take care of before that, and one of them is to thoroughly clean the house.
It was about 4pm and I was deep cleaning the kitchen when I was absolutely overwhelmed with a feeling of entrapment. I was not bothered that my plans had not worked out, rather I was bothered by the fact that I never even had the courage to tell Mama of those plans in the morning, and also that by the afternoon, I was the only one still cleaning. Everyone else was outside talking to the some Fountain of Hope New Life students who were on a retreat at the house because they were having issues getting along.
I wanted to go out and join them, given that the topic was communication, which is what I teach them anyway, but it was all in Swahili. Instead, I channeled my frustration at the family and grew angry with them for abandoning cleaning when I had other plans and was still cleaning. (I was consciously aware of the immaturity of this frustration. The only problem really was I lacked the guts to tell them I wanted to leave).
Finally I decided to go outside and try to listen in Swahili and see what I could gather. I asked one student what Mama Shoo had said that made everyone laugh while she was lecturing to them, and he explained it to me. A few other students saw this interaction, and then one approached me later. His name was Samwel and we ended up talking about the instruments he played and he and his friend Nash offered to teach me. Then a boy named Victor saw this conversation and stopped me as I was washing to ask me if I ever hand wash clothes in America. He proceeded to help me wring the bed sheets as we spoke. Then, another student, Willgod asked me about basketball later which led to a wonderful chat with he and four of his friends about basketball, planets, Christmas vacations, computers software, you name it.
These interactions totally turned my day around. I didn’t need to go to town: I moved but a couple yards to be with them and suddenly all feelings of entrapment had dissipated. The reason it disappeared? I had a chance to do a little analysis while we were speaking (which was what I wanted to do in town). Only boys approached me, the girls were far shyer. I tried approaching them, but the conversation was extremely awkward. It was a start, but I have yet to find a way for the Fountain of Hope girls to feel comfortable with me. Boys are easy – you just talk about sports and they know you’re cool.
Another thing I noticed is how smart and sometimes socially immature they are. When I go home for a few weeks in December I think I want to remap their upcoming communications lesson plans to give them some more challenging material, but focus for a longer time on assertive communication because they don’t seem to grasp it 100% yet (which is completely understandable – a two hour seminar isn’t going to completely mature your personality).
Anyway, the kids added a third dynamic to my day – a wonderful important dynamic that is a small milestone, but a milestone nonetheless, in our growing relationship.