This past week in South Africa has been a nothing but adapting—adapting to the weather, the language, the food, the time difference and, of course, the diverse culture of South Africa.
The first two days were largely spent adapting to the weather and time difference while getting to know everyone on the ACE team. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each one of my fellow volunteers is open-minded, selfless and good at tackling unfamiliar problems in an uncomfortable setting. Additionally, each one of us brings unique qualities and backgrounds to the team, which further enhances our ability to make a positive impact here in South Africa.
“We went to several different classrooms to teach the kids about goal setting, perseverance, discipline and getting out of your comfort zone amongst some other things.”
The previous two days were spent teaching in a school in a township. We went to several different classrooms to teach the kids about goal setting, perseverance, discipline and getting out of your comfort zone amongst some other things. Despite the language barrier, most of the kids tried their best to participate and gain what they could from our lessons. At the end of each presentation, we played some ice breaker games with the kids to lighten the mood and keep the kids engaged. It was a lot of fun to see them laughing and getting out of their shell as they performed their favorite dance move or imitated their favorite animal.
I would say the largest challenge we faced by far was the language barrier. Despite South Africa recognizing English as their predominant national language, most of the kids are only fluent in Xhosa. In order to bridge the language gap, we modified our presentations by slowing down our speech and limiting our vocabulary. Nonetheless, I believe our lessons were enriching and fun for the kids while also posing a growth opportunity for us as volunteers.
These past four days have been encouraging, exhausting and uplifting all at once. Interacting with the kids was definitely the highlight, yet simply getting to experience South African culture with a new group of open minded individuals has also been rewarding. I am looking forward to what the upcoming weeks have in store!