The first official week has been pretty laid back...
Before anyone gets upset with me for taking the following photo. Please know 2 things. First, I am a photo ninja. Second, I took the picture with the camera behind the part of the window that was mirrored.
Just chillin in the truck with my RPG.
Reflections of my first week:
I kept telling myself that I would take time to capture every moment of my arrival… there is nothing like experiencing a “first time” and capturing it in your mind forever. But then I was so fixated on not falling down the little exit stairs of our small prop plane (in 3" wedges) that I forgot to take in that first moment getting off the plane. However, after making it to the tarmac safely...the smell of the air, cooking food, burning wood (and the French woman in front of me wearing too much perfume)... it smelled familiar and completely new at the same time.
There were so many people standing around watching the plane land, and of course all the official vehicles and flags. Then I overheard that the Governor of North Kivu was on my plane from Addis Ababa to Goma… so not for my welcome party at all ;) I was met by Marie Desange (Marie of Angels) who is the director of Un Jour Nouveau, Raj- a leader in the Sons of Congo program, Charlie- an English teacher who like to say "sure" and Vicky- a volunteer French teacher from Belgium and my new roommate.
I am in the exact situation I expected. I understand a lot of what is being said, but I can’t form my replies in French. Everything comes out in Kreyol, which is only half understood. For example, last night, the security guard for the house was trying to help me get my new sim card working. He speaks no English, mostly Swahili and also a fair amount of French. My French on the other hand is horrible, and Kreyol is flowing out more than English, but then I try to say a phrase in Swahili... we managed to conclude together, in the end that my phone is still not working. Haha. But the language experience was memorable (and comical).
Today was my first day to really get to work with the kids. Generation hope is the part of the program focusing on the kids in the community. They begin the first 30 minutes having the old kids mentor the younger kids and help with home work. We then split into 3 separate groups by age. They then are taught leadership skills, life skills, some English and French pronunciation, and some bible study. The point of Generation Hope is to raise up leaders who speak English and French with a strong sense of self and the good leadership.
some of the kids working on homework before going into the class rooms.
Yes, that is my elbow #wideanglelens
This went really well. I introduced myself in French, were I came from and then it all went down hill from there. I fumbled through telling them about Haiti because I started speaking Kreyol. They laughed a lot and in the end we ended up having a really great question/answer get to know you class before we get started on the official English bible study next week. They asked some intense questions, like:
- What is your biggest dream
- How do you deal with life when God does not fulfill your dreams after you've prayed a lot for that.
Standing at the front of the class speaking.
This is André, the director of the program.
He was helping me try to speak French and ultimately translating for me :)
Beginning to work in a new place is taxing… I have a vague idea of what's going on, but get nervous that I'll never "get it" (language, culture, admin, etc). But I have to give props to the staff here. They have been well trained and their organizational skills are so impressive. Every time I think I can't get impressed with UJN they go and do it again. I know that I will "get it" because I have a great crew leading the way and helping me. It will be a while to observe and learn the flow and learn names, but I’ll get there!