An Unforgettable Journey part 3

For those first three months, my daily schedule consisted of sitting and watching my colleague teach, assisting her in marking papers, teaching some subject in her classroom, or sitting in the classroom trying to maintain control while my colleague had left the room and I was uncertain of what was planned next. As soon as the 64 students in my classroom realized that I was not going to hit them with the stick, they began to disregard anything I had to say in the classroom. I started to try some different management techniques that I had learned to get students’ attention, but they rarely listened. I always wondered why my colleague would not step in to help me manage the classroom until I found out one of the assumptions about Basotho culture. It is that you can never let another person, especially in authority, ever lose face. If she would have stepped in, she would be telling the class in some sense that I was incompetent or unable to do my job, but she could never do that because you cannot allow that to be known, even though all the students knew this already. It was like the longstanding elephant in the room. Students would mock me in the classroom and out on the school grounds, making fun of the way I talked.

I soon decided that I needed to move to a different position in the school so that I could serve all of the teachers effectively and not embarrass myself all of the time teaching. After we let out of school on the first of December, I began preparing some ideas for a new job description so that I could talk to my country representatives about them when we went to Pietermaritzburg, SA for our winter retreat.

One of the craziest moments of the trip happened during these initial months. The school takes a school field trip every year, in which students who can pay the fee can go. When I arrived at the school, they told me about the upcoming field trip to Mohale Dam, one of the largest dams in the country. I was told that I would not have to pay for the trip and that the other SALTer serving in Lesotho was invited to come along if possible. We both ended up going and having one of the most interesting school field trips. I will say I will never forget my first school field trip as a teacher. I wrote a blog post from this trip that summarizes the trip quite well. You can find it by looking back through my blog posts.

During the month off of school for Christmas break, I was able to spend most of my time helping with farm activities at the mission. Late November into early December are the ideal planting times for Lesotho. This being said, the average beginning planting date for farmers in Lesotho is December 27, nearly a month after the ideal planting date, November 25. Late planting is a major cause of poor crops or crop failure depending on the summer months of January, February, and March.

In December, I was finally able to get my hands dirty, digging holes for seeds with a hoe as well as driving a tractor with a two-row planter. August, the missionary in charge of the mission, had me start right away with the planting, which was intimidating because I had never done it before. It was simple enough, and I soon became the main planting man at the mission. August and I put in several 15 hour days, starting planting at 5 am, and leaving the last field when it was almost completely dark at 8 pm. I really enjoyed these moments. They reminded me of home, helping me miss my family and farm a little less.

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~ by randallkoehler on November 24, 2012.

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