From aqua abode to aqua academics, it’s about a forty minute walk through the bush. It’s a beautiful traipse… Zweli, my brother in grade 5, and I leave at 7:00 and, for the better part of an hour, meander through narrow dirt paths lined with golden grass, bend under barbed wire, battle cattle (only slightly kidding), and gradually pick up more and more learners as we draw nearer to school. Now, remember how foreign I am to the village, how new I am to the school, how pale I am, and how my mechanical city legs aren’t yet used to the terrain here? Indeed, the first couple walks were a little awkward. The paths are, more or less, single file so, being the creature that everyone wanted to watch, I kept finding myself in front. It’s funny when you don’t know the way and it’s adorably humiliating when five-year-olds say, “Ehm…” and drag you in the correct direction.
Earlier this week, we were walking in a thick silence and I decided that I should probably make a fool of myself to show them that I’m not so scary, I can be a teacher and have fun, and that it’s fine to make mistakes. I started to belt out the South African national anthem. Mind you, this little diddy of a tune winds through four of the country’s eleven official languages, so my probability for botching it was four fold. It was going to go one of two ways: I was going to get three lines in and be met with even thicker silence, or the learners were going to join in. After a few solo bars and some frantic hand motions, the latter happened and it was a really cool moment. We sang their (our) anthem, I sang The United States’, and then they sang some more songs for me. Day by day, the ice is breaking and my surroundings and I are getting a little bit more used to each other. It’s a good thing I never use clichés, huh?