#25 2014 The Class, Rotary and Drama
Thursday, August 14. Each morning as I walk into the dining hall at 9 am I’m greeted by more faces. First there were 9, then 12 (I think), then 2 guys didn’t come back, but then 14, 19 and today 24! And I had to kick them out at noon, with only a 20 minute break. Such nice kids, so eager, like 24 sponges soaking up tidbits to help them through the dreaded math – except a few of them are really good at math. Kevin, a form 2, is already studying the revision (review) book for KCSE. Each day he has a laundry list of questions he wants me to explain. Some I answer for all, some he and I do together after class. He’s so earnest and so grateful to have my full attention and every question answered, so as far as I can tell, he understands every problem.
This is my group on Tuesday (14 students)
Because I promised that I’d focus on form 1 and 2 materials, sometimes the form 4’s quietly work on something else, as I explain to the others. Dan, a form 1, often finds questions beyond what he’s studied, but he bravely sits, doesn’t seem to want to leave, shows up every day and gets what he can.
On the board is a list of topics they wanted to cover. We got through about ½ the items, but those we covered, we beat into submission. We have tomorrow and we’ll work Saturday morning, but I have to reserve Saturday afternoon for packing. Sunday the bishop will come for confirmation, which will take a good deal of time, plus several people are coming to see me. Monday morning we’ll work and then the girls who don’t live here will go home and I will be in panic mode to complete packing for a Tuesday departure. Although my plane doesn’t leave until 11 pm (UGH!), I will probably leave Naivasha no later than 2, so Fr. Kiriti can get back before it’s too late. I’ll have a nice long wait in the airport (not my favorite place) but I treated myself to an upgrade on the first leg—to Dubai—with my miles so maybe there will be a special lounge area where I can wait. I don’t know because I’ve never upgraded on this (shorter) leg of the trip. Once I was given a free upgrade on the SF to Dubai leg and I almost kissed the clerk to told me! What a gift. Unfortunately a miles upgrade was not available for the 15 hours Dubai to SF. It’s my semi-annual endurance test, a test I can’t fail – there’s no place to go.
After my lunch I decided it was WAY PAST time to clean my little residence. I swept and mopped floors and was shocked and dismayed to see how dirty the water was, but I now love my nice clean floors. I can actually tolerate a good deal of dust in the corner, but when I hit my limit I really go at it full bore.
Last night was my final Rotary meeting for 2014. Everyone was so nice, “We’ll miss you.” “We’ve never had a visiting Rotarian who participated like you have, thank you.” “Please come back next year.” One fun thing they do is called Happy/Sad in which each member is given an opportunity to share something, after shelling out ksh 100 (abt $1.25). Often it’s trivia, just a fun way to help raise funds. A number of folks were “sad” because I was leaving, or “happy” for what I do here. I was truly touched. These are all people, mostly men, but a few hardy women, whom I didn’t know, nor would I likely have met them in any other setting. It’s a small group, last night I think there were only 10, but that core group is very dedicated and do so much. They have an on-going project to provide sanitary napkins to girls in poverty-ridden areas, they have a water project underway and are looking at new proposals for other water projects.
Generally no one eats at the meeting, although it’s held a 6:30 and goes sometimes for 2 hours. But last night someone ordered chips and salad for everyone. President Juanita whispered it was in my honor. Chips here are really tasty and I noticed everyone chowed down, including me, although I had eaten before I left home. I’d even remembered to take my camera for a group picture, but of course I had neglected to check battery condition, and – you guessed it – all run down! RATS!!! Several people had cameras, but whether I’ll get a copy is another question.
Arriving home and hoping for time to write, I found one of the girls knocking my door. “Margo, I want to go home.” Uh oh, what’s up? She’d had her feelings hurt by one of the others, so we talked about it and I made her promise to go to bed (they’re all tired) and not to do anything until she talked to me tomorrow. She left and I called in the others. Of course there were 2 sides, but we worked out issues. By then it was after 9 and dinner had not been served. Suddenly I realized the major issue was hunger. So we called the girl back and I made grilled cheese sandwiches or eggs and toast for the non-cheese eaters. Amazing what food can do for one’s temperament! Eventually I sent them off to bed and hoped to sleep myself, but of course the pull of my book was too much. I’m sure I’m the last person to read The Agony and the Ecstasy, about Michelangelo, but I am so enjoying it. The fact that I often fall asleep reading it is testimony to sleep deprivation and age, rather than appreciation.
Seeing fatigue setting in, I decided this afternoon should have some fun, so proposed a walk to the market. Yvonne carried the bag and off we set. Before we even left the church compound I heard, “Margo” and turned to find a woman who teaches at Ndingi chastising me for not finding one morning this season to come teach some classes. Next we encountered a man I’d met in the early years when he drove Jane, the engineer who began the building of SFG. Later I met Jacqueline’s mom on the road going back home and I realized how many times at home I go out and never see anyone I know. Here it’s rare that I fail to see at least one familiar face.
As we walked along, I asked what would be a nice treat. “Ice Cream!” “OK, but we need some biscuits (cookies) to go with it.” Standing in the supermarket aisle and doing a bit of mental math I determined we could get a big tub of chocolate and 3 pkg of biscuits. (It’s like a mixture problem – I should have pointed that out to them – but it just occurred to me.) As we stood in the queue I asked them how much change will I get for my ksh 1000 and was quite dismayed at how long it took them to figure it. Oh my, these are kids I’ve been haranguing for 4 years about doing mental math. Maybe it’s a lost cause. Maybe I’m a total iconoclast and can’t understand why they don’t think in numbers like I do. ALAS!
We all felt better for having walked, especially after I bought a small package of peanuts on the way back for the girls to munch. After dinner we each had nice big helping of chocolate ice cream and biscuits, after which we had a rousing game of “Spoons”, a silly but fun card game. Even small Joseph (peanut butter man) joined in, but only after he observed the first round. He was quite adept and never was the person without a spoon. For those of you who don’t know Spoons, it’s a little like Musical Chairs, but in this case each person grabs a spoon instead of sitting in a chair. Each round elicited great laughter and fun, while the poor person left without a spoon vowed not to be caught short again.
At 9 I called it quits, but they played for another hour after which one of them wanted me to explain some more math. How can I say, “no, I’m too tired?” I can’t.
Friday, August 15. When I walked in at 9 am today I was dismayed to see not more but fewer students. Oh, well, whatever is, is. I began the topic we had stopped on yesterday. But the door kept opening and students drifting in, one by two until there were 27. I took the picture below before the last 3 straggled in.
Friday’s class of 27 after last 3 arrived.
Later in the morning I began working requested problems. That’s always a bit more challenging, since I have to shift mental gears for each new topic. One question was particularly hairy and complex. With 27 expectant faces, all waiting for me to be cogent, I found it hard to think clearly. I do better working things out in advance by myself. In my mind I’m thinking, “Oh !$@$#$! I don’t know how to do this.” I tried several ideas, but got nowhere. And then that wonderful moment when the light bulb goes on! I realized what was being asked (always important!) and figured it out! They all clapped – not just a polite little clap – a big CLAP! They might have even done a standing ovation, but the room is too crowded. It was a great moment. Of course I had to go back and carefully explain what I was thinking about (no, not the @#$@#), what was my path of analysis. Eventually they all understood, or so they claimed, except for poor form 1 Dan in the corner who had nodded off while I was stumbling through the problem. We let him sleep. Most of what we were doing was beyond what he has learned so far, but I do applaud him for coming back each day. I hope it’s because he wants to and not because mom insisted.
Same story as all week. I had given them a 20 minute break at 10:30 (before the hairy problem) and couldn’t get them to leave at noon (2 ½ hours on intense math.) Finally at a bit after 1 pm, hot, exhausted and losing patience, I said, “I’m done.” Some are still in there working and I am on my bed, having eaten and napped a bit.
Tonight I must, must must start packing! ARGH! How I hate that job. I had to buy a 3rd suitcase at the Naivas and I’m not sure I can get everything in it. I’m not sure what’s worse, packing or 15 hours cramped in economy-sized seats. I leave in 4 days. Sigh!
=Love to all