She's FINALLY here!

Trip Start Jan 23, 2011
Trip End Nov 23, 2011

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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Last weekend, some of my students came to the school on Saturday to help me paint the library and ended up just taking over; they did an outstanding job! The library space looks so much better than it did before – its bright, warm, inviting, and best of all, a product of student work. I am so grateful to them for the efforts and for their professionalism throughout the day. They were great sports throughout the morning and dusted, cleaned, newspapered, taped, and painted the entire space in about four hours, including touch-ups. The transformation of the facilities was quite impressive, and they were able to that they had done it. They were really proud of themselves, but I was prouder because they had stepped and taken the initiative and an interest in their learning environment. They also provided me a name for the library, "Umthombo Walwazi", which means “Fountain of Knowledge”.

From there, the week just got better; I had previously applied for a grant from the U.S. Embassy to travel to Cape Town meet with organizations to try securing book donations for our library. After this trip had been booked, we discovered that my roommate, Kerry, would finally be arriving in South Africa in Cape Town, so our trip was now dually purposed to pick her up and take her to our meetings with us, so she could dive headfirst into our project on the ground.

The principal and I met with Kerry, in Stellenbosch, on Wednesday, where she had connected with two other ETA's assigned there at Kayamandi High School. We visited their school, met the principal and vice principal and shared lots of contacts and information since we are all working on library restoration and/or creation projects. We shared experiences and ideas, and also began developing a partnership between Walmer High School and Kayamandi that will hopefully be fostered over the years.

We then did some touristy things in Stellenbosch, visited some wineries and vineyards, and explored “downtown” Stellenbosch and the university. It was once again, super nice to be visiting with people we knew and quite comforting. One of the best advantages to us all living in different parts of South Africa, is that we have people to visit all around the country, who can show us around!

Tomorrow, we will leave Stellenbosch early in the morning to start a full day of meetings in Cape Town. SO excited to see what opportunities lie ahead!

Highlight of the experience: The two ETA’s in Stellenbosch pay monthly for unlimited internet, which I can’t afford: so I took advantage of the situation and was able to watch episodes from my favorite TV show, online…YAAY J
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