Goodbyes, new arrivals and lots of new books
Hey everyone! Time flies. Our last blog post was more than three weeks ago, sorry for that! Lots of things happened in the meantime: while Marine already left Madagascar, Nina and Nati arrived and will continue library (and other) activities during the winter break! Read about students' progress, goodbyes, first impressions and new books in this post!
Writing letters with the 5th graders: We did not only bring books to Djangoa, but also other very cool things. The students of the Swiss International School (SIS) wrote letters to the kids of École Mamiko! In the last few weeks, we prepared the students of the 5th grade to answer these letters. We read the letters from the SIS in small groups and the kids really liked them, as some even contained pictures, paintings and small gifts. Then we showed them pictures of Swiss food/nature/animals/infrastructure on the IPad and had them write down phrases with the Malgasy equivalents. They loved seeing pictures from Switzerland, especially the ones showing Switzerland's mountains and food (so did we - we can't wait to eat Swiss cheese and chocolate!). The kids are quite excited about answering the letters (so are we!) although building simple phrases is still very challenging for them. We'll let you know how it worked in the next blog entry, as the students will write the final versions of the letters next week, the last week before the long winter holidays!
Library sessions and vocabulary classes: During the last 3 weeks, we continued with reading books to the students in the library morning sessions and repeating the stories' vocabulary in the afternoon classes. The students' favorite activity is playing charades with words of the books. However, it took them a while to understand the game as well as not to be too shy in front of the class. Jean de Dieu, the 4th grade teacher did an effort in demonstrating what charades are about by showing the word "le marché" - he set up a whole market stand in the classroom and everyone had a good laugh! No wonder the students got into this game as much! As another vocabulary training, we gave the students sentences that we cut into subject, verb and complement, which they had to rearrange. By now, the majority of the students can recognize verbs and put the phrases into the right order, which in the beginning was very difficult for them. In the last session we did this with the 5th graders, they were quite fast, so we were demanded to be quick in correcting their results and in giving them new sentences to rearrange. Malaki laki (vite, vite) Storya, Marine, Domi, and Sarah! In addition, the students illustrated the vocabulary of some books, resulting in cute new class room decorations. Highlight: we wanted to introduce new songs to the kids but struggled to find good ones (especially for the older kids). But after some brainstorming we realized that there is the perfect song in the jungle book (which we read with the kids): Baloo's "Il en faut peu pour être heureux"! Is there anyone who doesn't like this song? We all love it! The only vocabulary training exercise that did not work well was drawing connecting lines between the French and Malagasy words with the 1st and 2nd graders. We had highly overestimated their reading skills: they are in the process of learning how to read and correspondingly struggled to read the words on the blackboard. They were mostly guessing when they pointed to words. We learned from our mistake and introduced new songs, painted and played charades (based on Malagasy translations).
Marine says goodbye:
Last few days in Djangoa and final goodbyes My last couple of days in Djangoa were emotional... After spending more than a month there developing relationships with the children it was heartbreaking to say goodbye, especially the 5eme with whom we had spent so much time. On the final Friday we went to every class and I was able to say my goodbyes, and then we took a picture of each class with my polaroid camera that I had brought, keeping one copy for myself, leaving one for the class, and one for the library... They were all amazed by the "magical" camera and the development of the image on the film! I then gave a final speech to all the school and said my last goodbyes. Then came time, after the last afternoon class with the 5eme, for our goodbyes. Already when I had announced my departure earlier a couple of the girls had cried, so it was quite tearful, but very sweet. I gave each child a handwritten note and a polaroid picture we had taken with each child and with Domi, Sarah, Storya, and I. It was very sad to leave them all but I was so proud of the huge progress we had seen them make in the time we had spent together, and I will miss each and every one of them dearly.
Nina and Nati's arrival in Djangoa: So, where to begin? After a few days of staying in Nosy Be, we finally took direction towards Djangoa. We got up at 4 AM, drove to the port and took a boat, without leaving our 64 kilos of books behind.
When we arrived, we still had to drive almost 2 hours up to Djangoa. Finally I heard Chaira, who was sitting next to me (the daughter of Lisa): Nous sommes arrivé à Djangoa! We parked in front of Valentine’s house, who kindly prepared our rooms. To carry the bags wasn’t a problem, as we got lots of help. It was Saturday, so there wasn’t much going on. Still, we got to meet Valentine (or as we call her: Madame délicieux), Storya, her daughters, Émilien, and other family members. From the beginning, we coulnd’t feel more welcomed. On sunday we went to the church, where Émilien introduced us to the people. This helped a lot to get into the daily life of Djangoa. Sarah, Domi and Marine gave us a lot of information about the two months they stayed here. This helped to arrive “smoothly”. Today, we finally went to the library to bring the new books. It was really encouraging to see the whole work our pioneers have done, and that it is moving on! As we were organizing the library, there was a whole group of kids standing in front of the door, watching with curiosity the new arrival of books. Nati, Mariana, Ale (who will arrive soon) and me hope to make a great transition and to accomplish our goals. The smiles of the children and the good energy of the people is a motivation that has no comparison.
That's it for today! We hope you enjoyed reading it! See you soon! July 22 - Nati, Nina, Marine, Sarah and Domi