Sunday, January 31, 2010
Yesterday was a wonderful day for interacting with the house kids. The morning was teaching prep time and free time for reading, journaling, etc. I took that time (after prepping with James, my teaching partner) to read the textbook, "There's No Me Without You," and study Amharic a little bit. Then after lunch and after our group prep time (and a little nap), I went down to the playground to play and interact with the house kids that were down there. I played volleyball, basketball, and jumped rope. I got to know some of the girls a lot better and a few of the boys. Lemlem, Senite, Sahi (Sun), Jijertu (Jiji), Tesfahonne (Tesfa), Natenael (pictured), Ashenofi (Ashu), Desta, Yerusalem (Yerus), and some others whose names have escaped me. I really connected with two individuals today, specifically Jiji and Ashu.
Jiji is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. She is slightly hesitant around our team, although on the basketball court she was bossing some younger girls around a little bit. I saw her and another girl arguing in a game of Around the World (or something similar). I got to know her a little bit better when I approached her, asked her name, and told her she has a very beautiful voice. She was the worship leader for the children during the Christmas service, and she sang with the purist tone I have heard since we've been here. All of the children have beautiful voices and are very talented in music.I found out more about Jiji as she asked me about my family and we talked about school, sports, and other things. She was my right hand girl for the afternoon.
Another student who I talked to was Ashu. He is 16 and in 8th grade and speaks very clear English (Jiji is 12 and in grade 6). Ashu played basketball with us, which was my introduction to him, but later he approached me and told me he has always wanted to learn guitar. I was simply ecstatic and told him I would love to teach him sometime. I told him that there is an extra guitar in the dining hall and that we could maybe use it. I hope that none of this seemed like a promise to him so that if it doesn't end up happening he doesn't feel betrayed. I need to check with Randall (one of our team leaders and a Project Mercy employee) if that one on one time between genders would be culturally inappropriate. I also hope that it is possible for me to take time out of our schedule to teach him. We talked more about his family-- he has 2 sisters and 3 brothers, and his family mostly lives in Addis. His sisters are both married, one living in Addis and the other living near Yetebon in Butajira. Some of his siblings attended school at Project Mercy in the past, and he has been here for five years.
After dinner we had our team meeting and we sat and talked for a little while in our tukol. Someone came in and mentioned a star walk, and we ended up gathering as a big group to go lay under the stars. We walked from the main part of the compound, past the grove of trees (I love the word grove by the way...it's just cool! haha), and into a dark, hilly field where we settled on a grassy knoll and scoped out the sky. I talked with Randall on the way out about the possible role of music education could have at Project Mercy because of how talented the children are in music and because of Ashenofi's interest in learning guitar and learning more about music. He said he would have to talk to the headmaster, Ato Getachew, about what that would look like. He said that I might have to teach a lower elementary English class alongside music classes. I would really love to see myself having that kind of role here, if God wills it.
I am feeling much more comfortable with the culture and the people around the compound than I did on the first day. Even though I still feel like I don't know much about the culture, I feel like I am not afraid to engage and learn (at least not as afraid as I was the first day we were here). I'm sure by the end of the trip I will feel much more comfortable, at least on the compound. I feel like the culture outside the compound is much different, and going into town, further away from the compound, it gets even more different. I feel like if I stayed here long-term I would feel more comfortable with those outside cultures than I will in my time here. This is understandable, and I am okay with it.