Living and working in a country, of which I’m a resident but a not a citizen, I’d like to share some anecdotes and perhaps, a snippet of advice.
~For those who find themselves dancing the Dance of Expat Living
and for those who share their space.
I nearly arrived in my new town with a removal truck full of random belongings. The telephone conversation with the removal company (RC) several months prior to the move, ran like this:
Me: Good morning Sir. I am calling to follow up on the quote for the removal inventory emailed to you earlier this week.
RC: Ah, yes, we have received it. I have a few questions. What size truck do you require?
Me: puzzled silence
RC: A 1 tonne? 4 tonne?
Me: Ah, 4 bakkie loads please.
RC: Cheryn Sibaya?
Me: Mm, (Sibaya as in cattle kraal!?) No…. (and I calmly pronounce and spell my full name again…)
RC: What is canoe? Is wrapping required?
RC: Yes here on the inventory under lawn mower, ladder and garden tools.
Me: That’s not my inventory!
Well, several weeks later, rather unexpectedly, after a few more similar, delightfully hilarious episodes my furniture arrived. However, with a few extra items, which I dutifully returned to their rightful owners across the border.
You see life, especially life across the border, is wildly unpredictable.
A stubborn sense of humour and a determination to find the humour will be more valuable than your favourite TV show. Put your dancing shoes on and celebrate this day! When you don’t know whether to laugh or cry-which will happen- choose to laugh.
When you really need to cry- cry, wipe your tears, stand up and go forth.
This time will pass. You signed up for adventure–Live your adventure-
Arms open and face to the sky-embrace the experience.
Amidst the end- of- year schedule, our school celebrated Thanksgiving. We didn’t host a the traditional Thanksgiving…
We invited our guests to a Thanksgiving assembly, presented by the students. These guests included the parents, citizens of the community and businessmen who step in, often behind the scenes, to help us in countless ways. This assembly had a two- fold purpose.
Firstly, it was a tangible way of expressing our appreciation and recognizing the role these stakeholders play.
Secondly, the assembly was part of the Values Programme that the school runs.
A side bonus is that from a grateful attitude stems joyand contentment, which literally overflows into other spheres.
Did our practiced assembly come across as superficial? No, because it’s the same giving-heart that has encompassed the year. It’s not a new practice. It’s merely a more public acknowledgement of the kindness and generosity to us.
In closing, how does one instill a life- long heart of gratitude in young children?
A few thoughts, which is by no means an exhaustive list:
~by being thankful in all situations, especially the tough situations.
~by modellingthe values you’d like to see in your children, even when it hurts.
~by providing opportunities to express their gratitude.
In a money-hungry, often greedy world, what are your thoughts on ways to instill positive values in children?
As I start this, one of my first education blog posts, I consider the key elementsrequired to take a new or developing school to a sustainable high standard of excellence.
These thoughts have been prompted by three vastly different schools (located in two countries and two provinces) which I have recently visited.
The first is a new and developing primary school in South Africa. The school funded and driven by an established business group plans to open its doors in January 2015 with classes from grade 1 to 12. As I sat and chatted with the headmaster, amidst building renovations, we spoke about the need for affordable quality education and the vision of the Group to meet this need with not just one but several private schools in the coming years.
The second school is a small independent primary school established to educate children of its employees. Members of the School Governing Body spoke of school vision and the desire to place the school on the map.
The third is a small independent church run school which seeks to preach the gospel while serving as an English medium primary school to the local community.
Although each have different primary objectives and have varying degrees of funding and resources each strives for excellence. What is the key element that will take these schools and others like it to beyond mediocrity? Will sufficient funding to build state of the art facilities be enough? Will demanding more from the teachers bring change? Will lesson observation or student entrance tests? Will developing, writing and displaying a school mission statement promote excellence?
Maintaining a standard of excellence is a daily decision. Every interaction, every response, every lesson plan, every fundraising venture and every report comment one of excellence.
Every word– an #excellent word. Every action-an action of #excellence.Every decision made with #excellence as the goal.
All these little factors combined make for a school of excellence. When each small decision is an excellent decision the big decisions are excellent too.
Teaching is seldom regarded as a joyful procession, yet this year, I have found my joy. I honestly love my pupils and am fiercely protective over them. I love their quirks, their enquiring minds, their determination and fascination with all things new.
In January I took a big, brave step leaving everything I knew and loved and stepped out solo.
During the course of the year I’ve experienced unexpected beauty. Beauty in the surroundings, beauty in , beauty in joy and peace, beauty in following God’s will and being at peace with myself and my God.
Teaching is seldom regarded as a job for the intellectuals, yet here lies the paradox. Budding intellectuals are being trained, disciplined and guided to thirst for knowledge. Teaching is seldom regarded as a joyful procession, yet this year, I have found my joy. I honestly love my pupils and am fiercely protective over them. I love their quirks, their enquiring minds, their determination and fascination with all things new.
Each day as my pupils gain new knowledge and build on existing experiences, they develop and grow as people and as the future generation of world changers. Each day they take their dream, with their child-like faith, and take a brave step towards their future. Budding engineers, businessmen, scientists and historians tackle the day’s lessons with a goal in mind – their future.
In an age where most young pre-teens focus on the present, these precious children of God have a heart for sharing the love they have received. Like many children they love sport, friends, music and games. They play hard, work hard and give abundantly.
These children are our world changers and history makers.