A Day in Our Life at Language School
We are humbled and honored to have heard some clamor for more info on what goes on for us here in Africa. While there hasn't been much quite ready for Hollywood just yet, we are learning the language at a clipping pace. Here are a couple of brief snapshots of what the daily life of a student at Mkoko Language School usually looks like.
7:00 Wake up!! (much better than the standard at HPS, if I may be so bold). Mass is celebrated at 7, so if we are to go, we usually arise about 15 minutes before seven, but, hey, who's counting?
7:30 Breakfast. A light meal here, consisting of fruit, toast and an egg to order if one desires. Fruits range from mango, papaya, pineapple, soursop, bananas, watermelon and lately oranges- all fresh from here on the grounds.
|Hamming it up between class!|
8:30 Mazungumzo Class
During our Mazungumzo class our teacher reads aloud a conversation between three fictional characters, Damas, Paskalia and Padri Robert (the American Missionary Priest who wants to know everything about everything) concerning topics such as land ownership laws, dowries and circumcision. The teacher also explains what all of the new vocabulary words mean and then they helps cement the sentences into our heads by making us repeat them outloud. Then, usually, the next day we come in, recite the conversation from the previous day and then start the process over again.
9:20 Hadithi Class
|Damasi, Paskalia, na Padri Robert|
|A typical classroom with Mwalimu Joakim, Kim and Caitlin|
|Walimu wa Mkoko: L to R, Dismas, Sylvester and Joakim|
10:10 Sarufi Class
Depending on who your teacher is, Sarufi or grammar class can either be an easy or more difficult class. If you have an experienced teacher light bulbs are turning on right and left and you can almost hear things clicking, but some teachers are still learning the ins and outs of explaining grammar in English and it takes a little cooperation to discern exactly how a new part of speech works. All in all, each teacher tries their best and we come to an understanding. During this class we have been introduced to all 12 of the noun classes and all the different tenses one could imagine, even some that don't exist in English.
If you ask the average 3rd grader what their favorite subject in school is, most will likely respond with "recess." Call me a 3rd grader, I think my favorite subject is Chai or tea time. Each day after our first 3 classes all of the students and teachers gather in the dining room to drink tea or coffee and eat homemade donuts, scones and occassionally left over pizza. While the refreshments are a bonus, what I honestly like the most about Chai time is that the teachers sit down with us like peers and chat with us. Sometimes we practice our Swahili and sometimes we just practice our English by talking about whatever burning questions the teachers have about America- everything from ice fishing to hip hop music.
12:30-2 Lunch and Nap. True to the warmer countries, a siesta is strictly enforced and appreciated (well, not really enforced, but nothing else is going on and it is terribly hot so the later is indeed true).
2:00-2:45 Language Lab. All over again we listen to tapes of the teachers reading the Mazungumzo, Hadithi and Mazoezi as we follow along trying to anticipate the correct infixes and subject prefixes, or even the correct vocab word! The machines are vintage Sony, but they serve their purpose faithfully unless the power is out. Then, shida kubwa!
3:00-3:45 Real Mazungumzo! When we've had all we can of repeating, "Father has drank milk after eating bread," we head out to the benches under the tree where our teachers are leisurely waiting for us to engage in impromptu, meaningful conversation. This is where the rubber meets the road. Often the teachers are already deep in discourse on some topic and it takes all the muscles the ear has to just keep up with their electric chatter. Finally a teacher will have mercy and ask us, in the equivalent of slow, southern drawl, "Caitlin, habari za mazoezi?" (if you guessed this means, how are your exercises, your ready for a visit). The conversation to follow involves a lot of stumbling and looking to the sky on our part and patience and more "Tena?" on our teachers'! Here's a short, somewhat staged clip of what typically ensues. After five creative guesses in the comments section, we'll tell you what Dismas and David are actually talking about. Guess away!
All in all, we are very grateful for our teachers and the patience and knowledge they give as we seek to learn Swahili!!