New year, new topic

Oh I know – sorry it’s a bit late. I’d love to say I’ve been kicking up my heels and what not but actually I’ve been poorly sana for most of this month. Still, I got to experience first hand the medical care available here… Well, I’m alive and for that I am truly grateful.

On returning to Bugando, one thing was noticeably different – everyone had a desk and chair. It made such a difference you have no idea, not least because none of them was within reaching distance of the other, making a quick stab to the knee with a pencil or a jab in the eye with an elbow virtually impossible.

New year, new topic – feelings, and at the moment the focus is on “angry”, “happy” and “sad” in TSL, Kiswahili and English. Non-manual features (e.g. facial expressions) are a very important part of both TSL and BSL – you can’t smile when you’re signing “sad” for example. Who knew how difficult this would be to teach? I’m not sure if it’s a lack of communication at home, lack of mirrors or because they learn by rote but trying to get them to produce their own facial expressions was unbelievably difficult. The grimaces and gurning that went on! Some tried to emulate the pictures I had brought (a 6 year old girl attempting the angry expression of a 40-45 year old man – somewhat creepy and chilling) and using a mirror didn’t help. Later, I gave them blank faces to draw their own happy/sad/angry face. Again I gave an example – mistake. Everyone copied it, whatever emotion they tried to portray. So indoctrinated to rote learning, any thinking for themselves seems to have been eradicated.

And then there was yesterday.

The biggest tragedy is that I forgot my camera so you’ll just have to take my word for it but they were inspired. 5 hours staying up drawing and cutting out face parts for angry/happy/sad faces totally worth it. Their recognition of both the English words and signs for each of the emotions made my jaw drop – yes the created faces were a little Picasso but they KNEW what they wanted to produce. Later games where I signed the word and they had to find the balloon with the English equivalent written on it went so well that I’m thinking of patenting the idea. By the end of 2 weeks I can happily say they know the TSL and the English for each emotion. We’re still working on the Kiswahili but I don’t think it will be too long.

I have a meeting with the head of the Deaf unit next week. There is going to be much to discuss as requests for more fundraising and more resources can only be met once the stealing and destroying of what is already there comes to a stop. We’re also discussing organising a trip to a local national park, which I’m excited to be thinking about.

Thanks again everyone so much for all your support.

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2 thoughts on “New year, new topic

  1. Pole for not feeling well. What did u have? Lots of flues, malaria and other things going around so hope u are feeling better. Sounds like the students are responding to you and starting to be more creative too. Hard work but I am sure you are making a huge difference. So did they have to find the balloon with the English word? I was trying to figure it out more but sounds like FUN and games are a great way to make the kids enjoy their time at school more. Yes, there is so much more to learning than rote especially for understanding. Keep up the great work & yes, I often find if I give an example too that my students copy it. It is hard to get them to do their own thinking…so keep plugging away at it. Eventually, it will start to click for them.

  2. Such a difficult time over last few weeks for you but as always did not hold you down for long!
    What a change desks and chairs must have made to the schoolroom, having been there makes that change so much more inpactive. You continue, to make such a difference and take others with you,. that is evident.As always miss you and hope someone someone local is regularly servicing the dala dalas to keep its special cargo safe. As if! Take more taxis! Love you xx

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