Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teaching in Lesotho

Students at my school, Tsoaing Primary, get ready for morning assembly.

Good morning class! How are you today?
We are well and glad to see you, Madame Lerato!

   That is how my classes start. The students stand up and greet me as I walk in the classroom.
   Pretty cool, huh? You rarely get that in America, lol.
   But I'm not in America. I'm in Lesotho, and teaching here has been quite the learning experience.
   Although the Peace Corps gave me solid educational training when I first arrived in country, I'm still on a learning curve.
   I've gotten much better at using different teaching methodologies and classroom management strategies this session, though. And the good thing is that I'm very passionate about teaching and want to learn how to be a better teacher.
   I teach at a school named Tsoaing Primary, which sits atop a tiny mountain in the district of Mafeteng. The school's located less than 200 feet from my house, which makes my early morning "commute" easy:) Tsoaing has no running water, electricity, air conditioners or heaters. Students call teachers "Sir" and "Madame." School starts at 8 a.m.
   About 70 percent of the students are orphans. Most are dirt poor. Despite their personal challenges, the students come to school with good attitudes and are loads of fun.
   I have compassion for them (you have to) but I also lay the law down when need be by using alternative discipline techniques. Spanking, or "shapa," is illegal but still used by many teachers around the country. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I can't shapa (and wouldn't if I could). Instead, I punish by having naughty students run laps around the school, do squats or clean the classroom and front office.
   Recently, though, I've implemented "Student of the Month," and that's helped significantly with bad behavior. If a student talks during class, their name goes in my little black book and they won't be eligible for SOTM. Students get so sad if their name gets written but they end up getting the message.
   I work with a co-teacher who's a brilliant woman. She's a math teacher who has been teaching for 13 years. We are working on a letter exchange program where students are writing pen pals in America. (The letters will be mailed within the next two months.) It's good having a counterpart in the classroom because I'm a first-time teacher and she helps me with language and relay things to the children if they don't understand me.
   Fun is something I try to incorporate a lot of with my 170 students (between 3 classes). We sang songs. They teach me their mother tongue, Sesotho. They get a kick out of my American accent. (The Ministry of Education wants the children to speak English and I follow this, but sometimes, I have to speak Sesotho so the students can understand me.) 
   After school, I have a super busy schedule. I tutor on Mondays, teach craft classes to the teachers on Tuesdays and Thursdays (I'll get into this in a separate post at some point). On Wednesdays, I run the school's English club. And teachers have been teaching me a traditional dance after all of our school activities are done.
   Whew! A lot, right? It is, but I'm here to work and I really enjoy being in the classroom with the students.
   Things aren't perfect here in Africa and Tsoaing and I have a few meltdown moments in the classroom, but please know that I truly, wholeheartedly enjoy waking up each day and going to Tsoaing to teach:)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sephora by OPI's "Chesnuts About You"

Sephora by OPI's "Chesnuts About You" has been the cat's meow for me here in Lesotho.

It's been a while since my last nail polish review, but I've found the perfect cutie that's worthy of high praise!
She's Sephora by OPI's "Chesnuts About You," a very aptly named polish.
I love it more than Kim Kardashian loves black men:)
CAY is a rose gold, that all-flattering hue that was oh so popular in the American polish world last season.
Many rose gold polishes give off a blinding metallic finish (I'm looking at you Essie Penny Talk!) but not CAY. It gives off a subtle shine. A hint of glitter. Just the right touch of sparkle.
CAY is a very versatile hue. It has potential for for day and night wearage.
And this color would make the perfect base coat for any kind of nail art starring the color black.
My friend, Chelsea, another volunteer here, has graciously been letting me borrow this polish for about a month now.
I really don't want to mess up a friendship or anything but brace yourself Chels, for you may never see CAY again:)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Durban, South Africa

I was very, very blessed to visit Durban, South Africa this past week.
It's a cute city. Very, very underrated.
Durban sits along South Africa's coastline and many of its residents are Zulu and Indians.
(During a walking tour, I was very surprised to learn that Gandhi lived in Durban for 21 years.)
I learned many other things in Durban and I had a great time!
Here are some pix:

Here's the Juma Musjid. It's the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere and can accommodate 1,000 people:

Downtown Durban:

Me goofing off at the Durban Oceanfront:

Youth performing a traditional Zulu dance at a local mall:

I ate dried ostrich and it was yummo:

I almost got eaten by a T-Rex at the local museum:

I had to pay 2 Rand (20 cents) to piss at some places. Ain't that some s%it!?

Traditional Zulu jewelry at a street market. I wanted everything on this table:

Went in this bead store at the craft market and blew my mind and wallet:

Traditional medicine at the herb market:

Bunny chow, a popular dish made of curried meats and veggies in a bread bowl:

A rickshaw driver:

Another shout out for their oceanfront because it was so beautiful:

I spent about a week in Durban with other volunteers for Easter vacay and I miss it already.
The food was good. The vibe was like a big city. And the ocean was gorgeous.
I'd love to go back at some point before I leave South Africa. And you should too!