In Week Five, Mona Fell Jumped in Feet First


Mona Fell, a Teach with Africa Fellow, spent the summer teaching at the LEAP School in Capetown, South Africa. This is her journal entry from week 4.

LEAP students: eager, bright, ready to excel

Township students: they live in a hard world, and are not shy about grappling with real issues

Another FANTASTIC week!!

I have been co-teaching 9th and 10th grade math classes with the math teachers at LEAP and have brought my own crazy flair to the classroom.  So much of their instruction is lecture style, so I am working with the two teachers to bring in some student based learning.  We have been closing the door and singing songs (the other classes on the hall were getting distracted cause that doesn’t often happen in a high school.)  I am still very much enjoying my students.  Sometimes I feel like I am in Chicago when I watch then interact with each other.  Being an awkward teenager is pretty universal.   The only thing that is different is that I cannot understand a single word they are saying.  Xhosa is such a passionate language with so many clicks and sounds it is hard not to think that someone that is simply asking for a pencil is irate.  I am sticking to my use of humor as a means to win over my students and it is working.  They like me, they want to talk to me during breaks, and it makes me feel good.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I help in the elementary schools for a HIV/AIDS awareness program that is sponsored by MAC makeup.    I travel with two psychologists to the township school and run a class on body image, self-esteem, self-love in an attempt to prevent HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy in future years.  The topics that we discuss are interesting and the students are not at all shy about sharing.  They are topics that they are used to seeing everyday in friends, relatives, and neighbors.  This last week the students have been working on a play that they are going to put on for a HIV/AIDS awareness night that we are having at the civic center in Langa on Thursday.  They are all very excited and we have ordered them matching t-shirts to wear so they are beside themselves.

Now I am over the half way mark and have been really reflective about the rest of my time here.  I am getting a little nervous that I am not going to be ready to go back to my ‘normal life’ in Chicago in 4 weeks.  I am making sure not to over do it, but at the same time get involved in every way that I can.  I don’t know what the upcoming week has in store for me but I am going to make sure that I don’t go home in one month saying, “I should’ve…”

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