Thursday, 16 May 2013

Meeting the Chief - Amawus School - Monday

After class we didn't get collected until 4.30 so we went for a walk in the township. Mr Dlamini introduced us to the head boy who took us for the walk along with the choir leader. 

We began by walking some of the children back to their houses. Lots of the children wanted to follow us and hold our hands - many of them talking animatedly about our skin colour and the difference with their own. This is the kind of work we can't plan but is so fascinating. Many of the children have never seen a white person other than on television so to touch our skin and hair was hugely intriguing for them. 

The head boy walked with us up to the Chief's house of the township - we didn't really know what to expect but asked lots of questions about what he did and how you became Chief. It turned out you had to contact the chief in order to build on the land, and the chief is a position passed through relatives - we also met his son, the next chief. 

When we arrived at his home filled with cattle and geese our chaperones were asking us a lot about London - did we have cows at home? What is our house like? What's the weather like?

We tried to answer their questions as best as we could although it was difficult to do it without trying to compare to what they have. Someone asked if London was as big as Harding (the nearest town).

The men took us to the Chief's graveyard (pictures to follow) - it's clearly an area they're really proud of and it was strangely peaceful. It had the most beautiful backdrop of the green hills and fields and you could instantly see why this was a perfect place for a 'holy' spot.

On each grave there was  a bible transcription on each tomb in English -  "so that everyone can read it". The graves of the chief's family were also there, totalling around 6.

It was so lovely to have been invited into this precious place and be shown this area that so few people visit. Moments like these are what have made this trip special. 

On our way back we met a girl who came to say hello. We could tell from her dress that she attended a different school and her level of English and confidence speaking the language made her stand out - As I approached her with the traditional Zulu greeting Saobona she replied 'I can speak very good English'. 

We asked her about her school and when we discussed the school we were at she looked less than impressed. It was the first encounter we had had with anyone who suggested class or poverty within the community. She was fascinated by how much our trip had cost and who had paid for it - this was a different kind of learner we met and was so interesting to see the difference between this girl and the others we'd met. 

When we finally got onto the bus the bus was filled with conversations between the two groups of students. The experiences are so different - particular in what the schools have expected of our students. In comparison to our school the students at the other school were asked to teach straight away and asked to plan lessons, but the group sizes were much smaller. 

What's great is that because their two experiences have been so different we all feel like we've experienced both. Listening to people's stories and how they overcame challenges or what worked meant we all learnt the techniques. 

A long day with a lot to think about!

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