Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Agano Preschool by Josie Maus-Conn and Julia Meyer

Today was our first day at our work sights.  The two of us went to Agano Preschool, so this morning after breakfast fourteen of us piled into a van and drove the fairly short distance to the preschool.  Upon arriving, we were in awe to be greeted by a group of children standing in the door way, singing us a welcome song, and holding a beautifully decorated homemade cake bearing the words “Welcome Agano”.  Almost all of us teared up, as it was one of the coolest feelings we have ever experienced.  When we entered the school, the children got in five groups around the room to do various activities.  Both of us (Julia and Josie) actually started out by coloring, and we gave each of the kids a crayon and were trying to teach them colors by asking them if the knew which color they had.  They responded with “pink color!” or “green color!” and they loved switching crayons with us and learning a different color. Then we switched stations and went to the play area. Some of the kids wanted to play catch so Josie made a circle and threw a beachball. The kids would almost wrestle each other if it meant that they were the ones that got to catch and throw the ball. Julia also played some catch and soccer with the little boys. Josie and Julia had their fair share of balls to the head during this time.  It was very chaotic, trying to pay attention to about 15 kids at once.  It was stressful, but the good kind!!  After this, the teachers had us all line up at the front of the room, and the kids sat on the floor.  One of the teachers cut the cake into little cubes and there were four kids that represented the group, and each one got a piece of cake on a toothpick and hand-fed it to us!!  It was the most unique experience we have ever had, being that we were standing in front of the entire class being hand-fed…almost like royalty!!  Afterwards though, we each got to feed one of the kids some cake too, which was good because we all felt bad that the kids didn’t get cake!! After all of the cake eating we took a break for tea. The teachers had prepared and served us tea and donut-like rolls. During this time we were encouraged to eat everything and drink every drop of tea that we were given. We were already really full from breakfast and cake, but there is no such thing as saying “no” to food in Tanzania. Don’t get us wrong, the food is very good, it is just constantly being served to us. We discussed our plans for the upcoming days with the teachers and they were very interested to know more about the preschool that we have in America. At this point were all dying to go back into the other room where the kids were. They were all so excited when we walked back into the room. There is no words to describe the happiness that their smiles brought into our lives. We can not get over how cute they are! Then we circled up for repetition of letters and colors, and we also sang many songs.  Some of the kids got to recite the colors individually, pointing at them with a meter stick.  One little girl pointed at pink and said “grey color!” instead, and the entire class shouted “NOOO!!” and then she had to go sit down.  We thought that was a rather aggressive reaction.  But if someone got through all the colors without messing up, they would chant “Well done, well done, you are a winner!” This was so awesome, because we’ve never seen kids so excited about learning!!  They knew so many songs and responses, and expect for being incredibly excited to see us new people, they were very well behaved.  For some of the songs we were supposed to hold hands around the circle, and the kids would literally slap each other to fight over who got to hold our hands. It made us wish that we had more hands, because obviously we only have two so the seven kids who wanted to hold out hands were not all able to!!!   After singing for a while, we got to sit down in a circle because it was almost time to leave.  Josie had a crowd of about seven kids around her trying to sit on her lap, and we felt bad having to say no to even one of the kids, so we tried to be touching them all.  So Josie had three kids on her lap, holding hands with two others, and two more sitting in front of her.  The best part of this was just how loved we felt.  From being greeted by song and a cake, to have kids literally injuring others to holding your hand, it was amazing to be so wanted, and someone that they immediately wanted to be around and love. Julia also was basically “covered” with kids, honestly it was almost overwhelming. She was trying to make sure that all of the kids felt loved and cared for. Never in her life have she felt like people enjoyed being around her that much. It was sad to leave, because they didn’t understand what we were saying so we couldn’t explain that we’d be back tomorrow.  It was full of lots of hugs and high-fives good bye!  

Josie says love you Mom, Dad, Ceil, Jelly, Maggie, and chickens….I’m having such an amazing experience and I wish you were all here with me. 
Julia says love you Mom, Dad, and Jake. Hope everything is going well back home! I miss you guys, and I haven’t forgotten about you guys on the other side of the world!!

Claire is doing great, and got to see Moses today!! <3

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