|My friend, Celia Anderson from Fayetteville, AR with some of the school children.|
Kicukiro Primary School is a 5 minute walk from the guest house where we are staying. We walk through the courtyard, past the Catholic church across a paved street, then a block down a dusty road to the gate of the school. Breakfast is at 7am and we are out the door at 7:45, so we can begin teaching at 8am.
Wednesday was our first day at the school and nothing could have prepared me for the welcome we received. As we gathered at the gate, curious little faces peeked from classroom windows and doors. Four buildings surround a main courtyard and as we walked through the courtyard we heard the little voices….”Hello, hello” and saw the hands waving out of the windows, the faces smiling in the doorways. All eyes were on us and it was obvious that the students were excited about our visit. We were cheered along as we walked to the classrooms we would teach in. Touching, humbling, emotional and challenging. We were being treated as dignitaries. Each of us was wondering if we could live up to expectations.
Our first day of teaching was exhausting, but exhilarating. We teach 2 classes of 3rd grade and 2 classes of 4th grade. The students are respectful, smart and affectionate. The teachers are appreciative. Some of the students seem tentative speaking English, others are comfortable repeating what is spoken to them, while there are some who are able to engage in some conversation. Most of the students love to be called on. In the 3rd grade classes, many raise their hand, stand up and inch closer to the front of the room, snapping their fingers, saying “Miss Teacher, Miss Teacher”, eager to answer. After class, out in the courtyard, students will surround us wanting to shake our hand, give a “high-five” or hug us. If we remember a name, they are delighted.
Little Rock seems a world away. Although 3 weeks seems like a long time, I can tell that there will not be time (nor energy) to be homesick. So far, the school has been our focus. I look forward to exploring Kigali. Truthfully, I look forward to a great night’s sleep! And I know that whatever comes in the next 3 weeks, it will be an unforgettable experience and a blessed memory.