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I have to admit, the night before we took our first ride to Nomzamo I was nervous. It felt as though I was turning down a blind corner on a busy street, unsure of what was to come, but knew there would be something there for me to discover. The nervous excitement continued to increase as the hours passed that night, my mind considered the fact that not only was I in an entirely new continent and country, but that I would be entering into an entirely new way of life.

“The people of Nomzamo smiled as they walked past on the streets, often waving and giving us the Xhosa greeting, “Molo.” As we set up our first warm up exercise with a few cones on the sports field, children came bounding and leaping from all directions, excited for a day of activities…a day of activities with us!”

That evening we received program training from GVI’s sports coordinator who would be working with us throughout the camp, Andy. His informative session included activities which taught us the importance of team building, saw to it that we were properly trained in childcare, and inspired us to ponder the foundations of education. Knowing that our group would have an adult by our side, especially one who was familiar with the community and the children put my mind to rest, at least for a little while. However, when he suggested that we begin to think up our own lesson plans for the week, I found myself daunted by the task. I became worried that the children might not like what we plan, or that we might not be prepared, or, or, or…..

I tucked myself into bed that night with a head full of racing thoughts— needless to say I did not get much sleep. The sun came up as my alarm went off, and I hurried around the accommodation getting ready for the big first day. I hopped in the van with the rest of the group, taking a small step into a big heap of uncertainty. As our van rode into Nomzamo, I have to admit, I was still feeling those first day jitters. The community was so unlike what I had experienced at home, and I began to immediately question whether I was worthy to be here. However, when I took my first steps out of the van into the place that contained all my excitements and fears, my mind was quickly put at ease. The people of Nomzamo smiled as they walked past on the streets, often waving and giving us the Xhosa greeting, “Molo.” As we set up our first warm up exercise with a few cones on the sports field, children came bounding and leaping from all directions, excited for a day of activities…a day of activities with us!

As my group members and I dispersed ourselves around the field for the first drill, no child was afraid to stand next to us, to challenge us, or to joke with us. While I was practically a twenty hour flight from home, the warmth of the children’s spirits felt familiar. From that day forward, after learning many names, creating funny handshakes, and understanding their attention span, I have been eager to come back each and every day.

This week has brought both ups and downs, successes and challenges, but most of all laughter. I am anticipating next week will bring new versions of just the same, and unlike Sunday night seven days ago, I cannot wait.

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