The First Day of School That Wasn’t

Honestly, I’m not really sure what happened today. I had been told the first week of school is a bit of a disaster, but I didn’t really think much of it. After seeing the dysfunction today, I totally understand now.

All day students showed up “slowly by slowly” as Rwandans like to say. There appeared to be a lengthy process of checking them in with all their stuff, but I steered clear of that. Some workers were frantically finishing up repairs around the school. Three days ago they decided it was the appropriate time to punch several holes in the walls to put in new doors, and they have been scrambling to finish so the girls’ dormitory doesn’t have a gaping hole in the wall.

Over the past few days, I’ve been hearing from other volunteers about the tedious teacher meetings they’ve been subjected to, which basically consists of hours and hours of arguing over the schedule in Kinyarwanda. Yesterday I ran into a fellow teacher as I was walking to town, and she told me my school would hold its meeting this morning at 8am. Well this morning I was prepared to go to the meeting, but when I walked outside, the only people to be seen were the ones rebuilding the walls so I wandered aimlessly around campus trying to figure out what was going on. Later in the day, the cook, Emmanuel, told me he heard the meeting would be at 2pm, so I showed up again at 2, ready for the meeting, but nothing happened then either.

When people eventually showed up mid-morning, I managed to track down keys to the computer lab so I could poke around. What I found were 6 functional computers, two power strips, one outlet, and two birds’ nests in the ceiling. Because there’s only one outlet in the room, I’ve got one power strip plugged into the wall, the other strip plugged into that, and then two computers hooked up to each strip. So several zaps later, I’ve got four cleaned up, ready-to-go computers to teach my classes of forty students. Let the fun begin!

I spent the rest of the afternoon looking at curriculum and chatting with some of the students. It’s hard to get the girls to talk. They are super timid and will only talk to you if you ask them a question directly. The boys seem determined to make up for their female colleagues’ shyness. They came right up to me and introduced themselves and started asking a million questions. Where are you from? Do you have parents? What hobbies do you have? Are you married? Do you like Lil Wayne? What did you study in university? How old are you? They all laugh when I dodge that question by saying I’m 100 years old.

So tonight, as I’m sitting here typing, the usually quiet courtyard is filled with the girls’ chatter and laughs. After having the place all to myself for the past month, it’s refreshing to see and hear the campus so lively. It’s so much less lonely once the sun goes down now that there are 300 students living in my front lawn!

I’ve been told the elusive teacher’s meeting will actually happen tomorrow at 8am. According to the schedule, first period starts at 8am so I’m not quite sure how this will work out. I’m supposed to teach a double period of English and one ICT lesson. I’ve got my first-day-of-school outfit all picked out (wearing a lab coat to teach makes it a lot easier to decide on an outfit!) Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Wish me luck- I think I’ll need it! 

4 thoughts on “The First Day of School That Wasn’t

  1. My headmaster wants us to wear the lab coats but then told us we have to buy them. Thence proceeded a great deal of discussion and insistence by the teachers that the school buy them…so far, no lab coats. Yesssss!

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