Bia’s Experience

The first day of work was full of surprises for a person who had just stepped out the plane coming from Munich, Germany. The Minibus I took to the office did not hold at any formal bus stops or even at any scheduled time. You just waved for the next passing bus to stop, jumped on and enjoyed a bumpy, fast and cheap ride with loud music. The Central bus station in Bellville was also not quite comparable to what I was used to. The operators of tiny braiis praised their goods (5 for 5 Rand) , curious feathered and hairy slippers were offered from a blanket lying on the floor and on some stalls South African passports could be purchased…

“Having chosen to volunteer in a worthy project”After only a few steps I already stood in the office of the Somali Association of South Africa. Here my fellow volunteer Frederike and me met Abdikadir the Director and Abdulhakim, who gives Computer classes and facilitates Youth sports. A very informative introduction followed for us, which did not only show me how this Organisation works but also strenghthend my opinion of having chosen to volunteer in a worthy project.In the following weeks our daily routine established itself: In the mornings we did all kinds of office work ranging from copying bills, typing registers and sitting at the reception to designing posters for the different programs SASA offers and working on the facebook page as well as the homepage.At exactly 12 PM Felly who does housekeeping had some hot water ready for us, knowing we Germans always eat our packet soup on time. (The quizzes on the back of these soups are very enjoyable at break time and give you an excellent knowledge of South Africa). 

“I would not have imagined myself capable of teaching.”
At 2 PM our students started arriving and Frederike took of to start writing exercises on the board in her class. My class started not long after that, depending on how long it took for at least half the students to arrive…after the first days I started preparing my own lessons, introducing new grammar and vocabulary each week. I would not have imagined myself capable of teaching my own group of pupils with my own concept but it worked astonishingly well. In the second to last week all the students wrote a test Frederike and me had preared for them. The week before gave us the possibility to do a revision of everything we had taught our then so far. Even though it was very hard to grade the exams because I didn’t want any of my students to do bad, there were pretty good results in the end.

“They are using the words you taught them.”On handing back the grades I started chatting with the ladys I had now gotten to know over the past months. Hearing from your students that they will miss you and that they are using the words you taught them one of the most rewarding experiences I made in Cape Town.My time at the Somali Association in now nearly over and I can look back at diverse Workshops I visited, two very interesting meetings outside the office, many (and long) political discussions held with our colleagues but especially on meeting so many interesting and kind people.

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