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Friday, August 04, 2006

Gaborone, Botswana: Emily's last day and the farewell song

This morning when I came in, it was cold and some of the students were huddled in the kitchen. The others were outside sweeping the yard. They do that every morning with brooms made from the ribs of the palm leaves. We used to call them pointer brooms in Guyana. The yard always looks very clean and there is a leaf pile at the back of the yard which the burn when it gets too high. The students use the same brooms to sweep inside of the centre – much like we used to do in Guyana - but it gets pretty dusty and if you’re allergic to dust, it can be a real problem sweeping. I have the sneezing and watery eyes when I’m exposed to too much dust so I cannot finish the sweeping if I start it. There is a vacuum cleaner but it needs to be fixed and there is no money to do it right now so we use the brooms.

It is so cold for the last few days that people who live here are complaining that it’s cold and a couple of students asked if I had spare socks (which I don’t have because I didn’t really think it would get this cold or feel this cold!!).

While I was doing my usual morning routine of hooking up my laptop and checking my email, I heard this loud joyous singing but it was not coming from the restaurant area where the morning services are held. I went outside to see where the group was but they were not outside either. So I came back into the building and opened the sewing room door. There were about 6 or 7 students in there just belting out a hymn so quickly got my digital camera which records short video clips and recorded about a minute and a half of impromptu singing. I wish I could find a way of including it on the blog. I will give it to Thapleo to include in the website.

This was Emily’s last day at Sedibeng and we had a party for her. I baked a big strawberry/apple cake and we had some fruits and other snacks. It was such a lovely send-off especially when the students started singing a song about Emily and Canada which they adapted from some gospel music. It was quite a compliment because although they were singing in Setswana, the song was about their Emily- meaning that Emily was now a part of them. Of course there were tears and laughter and gifts and dancing – which I have recorded and will make a copy for Emily so she can have that remembrance of her time in Botswana. The students will miss her a lot because she really did make a valuable contribution to their well-being. She is leaving on Monday so she’ll have at least a few more hours on Monday with us.

The new volunteers came over to Kathy’s tonight for dinner. We made mulled cider and wine, bolognaise, pasta and some veggie pasta sauce. Chocolate cake and some kind of caramel cake topped off the evening for dessert. The best part of the evening though was the roaring fire and I made sure that I enjoyed every bit of it. It warmed up the house nicely and felt like a nice cosy evening with conversation around the fire. It was nice to hear how everyone was doing at their placements and to see the new ones asking questions – much the same as I was at the beginning of July.

Melissa is working with the Ministry of Education Vocational Training Division doing work with instructors to imbed HIV/AIDS content into their curriculum. I do the same sort of work at Red River College in the course on Diversity and Inclusiveness and it’s always a challenge to incorporate themes of Diversity and Inclusiveness into technical/vocational curriculum. We had a good talk about the similarities and challenges we face. Having been a tradesperson for over 30 years and a vocational teacher for about 17 years and now teaching college instructors for the last three years, I can see how some curriculum content would lend themselves better to certain courses and not so easily to others but employability skills – much like those outlined by the Conference Board of Canada are a necessary part of curriculum. Having done DACUM workshops, employers are saying that they want people who are adaptable, who can manage change and who have good teamwork skills. Along with the technical content, it is imperative that graduates possess those skills. Okay that was my bit of school/teaching related stuff. It was heartening though to see that the challenges faced by the education system in Botswana are similar to the ones faced in Canada.

Everyone left Kathy’s about 10pm to do other activities but Kathy could only think it was a long day and sleep was beckoning. I tried reading but my eyelids were heavier than the book I was holding so I gave up. This is obviously being posted on Saturday where I do now have access to internet, albeit dial-up.

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