WOW these past couple of weeks have seriously just flew by!
Here’s what’s been going on at SSI:
This week the kids are FINALLY back to school! Which means SSI staff is back to our regular schedule and we are too too too excited. This means I finally get a fresh start with my study skills sessions, yayyy 🙂
To celebrate the kids last “summer” holiday, SSI held a fun fair, which was a staff/participant fun day. We created 6 stations, with different challenges for all of the kids, mine – Eating apples tied to a string without the use of hands/arms. And boy was this one pretty funny to run !! Although the kids often found very cleaver and creative ways to go about doing this… such as having someone else hold the apple with their cheek, back, stomach or hold the string still for them, some even had 2 attack it at the same time. It’s always interesting for me every time to witness the culture difference when it comes to physical contact and space. Living here I’ve learned there is virtually no such thing as “personal space”. Kids grow up in houses with one room, to share amongst 5, 6, even 10 brothers and sisters, everyone holds hands and its perfectly natural to see two 70 year old men walking down the road doing so. At my station for example, eating an apple together, face to face, boy and boy, girl and girl, boy and girl, it just is never an issue. I love it and hate it. I think it’s been a great experience to be exposed to such. To share a room with basically a stranger for a month, to ride in a combi sharing sweat with a total stranger without hesitation, to having a swarm of preschoolers grabbing every inch of your body… that’s just daily living here. Although I must say, to finally be able to come home and have that personal bubble inflated again every night is absolute heaven.
At the end of the funfair the kids were pleasantly surprised to find that the staff were in charge of serving THEM lunch… which was a very special lunch indeed. We set up tables with juice and silverware – something they consider to be very very fancy! Some of them had never used a fork and knife before… Serving them fancy food (which they consider to be spaghetti) and cleaning up after them, they definitely felt pampered at the end of the day…
What else has been up with SSI? EVERYTHING.
Our fabulous Utah Psychologist, Dr. Julia Hood, sadly had to leave us last week, but before she did she left an absolutely priceless gift – her brilliant, extensive SSI participant research. During her presentation SSI staff was informed of the wide variety of kids we have, all unique, all with different learning styles, learning disabilities, spacial variability, awareness. Often at Stepping Stones we see the same kids who tend to “act out”, or misbehave more than the others… and we learned that this is often a coping mechanism or an attempt to hide their weakness and divert attention away from this fact. Not only are we now fully equipped with a psychological/educational assessments of each kid, but we also have tons of resources and ideas of the best ways to really focus on the learning needs of these kids. SO EXCITING!! While she informed us that each kid during her assessments expressed that they feel SAFE at SSI and they know that the people and staff here all care and are concerned for them, which is quite heartwarming… its also different to know that for some of these kids SSI is the only place they receive that care and concern and is the only place where they do feel safe. I love knowing that at Stepping Stones they feel supported, loved, cared for, and safe, but at the end of the end it is hard to watch them leave the only place they feel this safety.
MORE AND MORE AND MORE LEARNING
Currently, the educational staff at SSI have been blessed to have Lisa’s (our founder and director) sister Megan (also from Utah) with a Masters in Literacy and heavy educational background to cram us full of helpful info and train us extensively in literacy tutoring! So while the kids have been around all day, we’ve been working virtually every space moment to assess their literacy, and boy oh boy were the results shocking!!!
Individually we would work with a participant to read levelled passages, timing their reading rate and their accuracy rates. We found that there was only ONE Stepping Stones participant, in grade 7, reading at a grade 7 level. Some of the kids are reading 6 grades below their level… that means we have kids in grade 9 reading at a grade 1 level = YIKES! To remind you all, and I do have to remind myself, this is their 2nd language, but still English is essential to their future success.
While the results we quite shocking, it is absolutely amazing to have the actually determined what levels kids are reading at, how we can group them to maximize their learning, and the individual needs of each student!
More than Lucky….
The past couple of weeks we have had the absolute pleasure of having SSI’s legend Luckymore Kwapa working with the kids to record some music. Luckymore is a past SSI participant who was the winner of the MAD 2012 Judges’ Choice Award. He has an amazing voice, and such an engaging character, with a smile that literally lights up any room… Check out the article on SSI’s page to read more about him http://www.steppingstonesintl.org/newsite/?p=1019 .
Life outside the SSI Bubble…
We went to a birthday party… a two year old, who is apparently terrified of white people, and as you can see from the photo, made that fairly obvious… Our co-worker invited us to her home village – a 2 hour commute outside of our village to her daughters birthday…
WOW was this one interesting. Initially she wanted us to leave around 9 am to get there for 11 to eat lunch at around 1, BUT because we didn’t know where to go, we left with another co-worker… and to give you an example of botswana time… we got to the party at around 4:30, about 4 hours later than our planned arrival time… but hey we made it. There was a jumping castle – which I was forbid to go on 😦 a live dj, TONS of people, cake and food! Not your average 2 year olds birthday party. After lots of dancing and traditional beer, we managed to get a ride back without spending the night in the middle of the desert 🙂
Walking to the gym after work, I managed to lose 1 shoe… just one. I spent the whole hour, walking there, retracing my streps, debating whether a goat or kids would have got to it first, mad both of them didn’t drop so at least someone would have a pair of shoes… only to find my shoe directly outside my organization…. way to go Kate
The lady that works at the gym thinks my name is Kater … I haven’t the heart to correct her…
We fixed our shower head! woooo… after long debates and attempts to get a wrench (this was an effort) we managed to tighten it up and get some water flowen! woo !
It took me 3 days, but i finally downloaded Grown Ups ! Getten ready for the new one!! … ( I wrote this blog awhile ago and apparently it was terrible 😦 but i can still enjoy the old one!)
I FOUND A BOOK STORE IN GABS!!! so so soooo exciting … until I went in last weekend to get the book I had been contemplating all week and they couldn’t find a price for it and basically refused to sell it to me…
On a positive note and nerd alert… I JUST found out that my all time fav Stephen King book that I lugged around last summer – Under the Dome, is now a hit TV series!! AND I managed to download it (in a couple days) so I can read that 🙂
I FOUND CLEAN SKINLESS, BONELESS CHICKEN IN GABS! I carried a 30 dollar, 30 piece, tray of frozen chicken around with me for hours. Heavy, but worth every pound. ALSO they had frozen berries – perfect for the blender we just bought… mmm smoothies… NUTELLA! yum yum yumm AND maple syrup. I am in food heaven 🙂
I made muffins last weekend! Check out this recipe – Chocolate Chip Banana Coconut muffins ! SOSOSOSO good! Check out this recipe – Chocolate Monkey Muffins …Both me and Shila can vouch.
Last weekend Shila and I headed into the city to hit up a homecoming party for the evicted Botswana star from Big Brother Africa. Both of us, super pumped, were mildly disappointed when the place WAS packed… like worse than HSDP PACKED (for you x men readers). Nooooo chance we even got in there… so we headed to our fav club trekerzz (the only bar we’ve been in) for a little dancing de-stress. The night started off with some good old karaoke, followed with some d-floor dancin. Unfortunately they didn’t take my requests for Tupac or Biggie songs… As per usual, Shila and I get quite the attention, being the only white people there, but we have managed to surround ourselves with a great group of Bots friends… My fav awkward “complement (?)” of the night whispered into my ear …”hey, i like your arms, thats all I’m going to say” .
Needless to say, the next day was spent yearning for a delivery pizza (which just doesn’t exist in Mochudi) and realizing the fact that yes, it is possible to throw up THROUGH YOUR NOSE… ouch that was a tough lesson to learn…
I hope you enjoy as much as I do… 🙂