Sunday, 25 September 2016

I Hope You Dance

It is the eve of the start of Week 4, Term 1, school year 2016/17. Things are just beginning to hit a 'routine', so I thought it was about time I got to grips with writing the 'Back to School' Blog.
Here are a few Snap Shots of my time so far....


 This is the regular scene in my office, at Break time, It is my twice daily encounter with what-it's-all about.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday I sit for what feels like hours around the table with the Leadership (Principal, Head of Secondary  and Head of Operation). Then Tuesdays, Primary Senior Leadership.  Sometimes I spend so much time in meetings, it begins to feel like the children are just an optional extra.
But then at 9:15 am and 11:15 am, my stodgy meeting saturated life gets blown apart by the Yellow invasion.
Suddenly all the heaviness of the decisions, dilemmas, and deliberations , dissipates. As those trophies are lifted, for the umpteenth time.And everything is investigated with enthusiasm and abandonment.
Last week, I was very earnestly informing Adarsh, that I was sorry, but I really was extremely busy and needed to continue what I was doing. When he equally earnestly,informed me that he wanted to see the Blue Poisonous Dart frog picture on the computer. Next thing, there he was sitting on my lap, moving the cursor off my 'I'm-too-busy' document and onto his, there-is-nothing-more-important-than-me icon!
 Since my move into the Head Teacher's office I have been exposed to a new and fascinating element of life, Jolly Phonics. During the Summer I actually attended a Jolly Phonics Conference in London.
So, I have now graduated from my false understanding of , a ..a..ants in my pants. To a...a..ants on my arm, causing me alarm!
Also, I have now  discovered, Jelly and jam, Jelly and jam, jiggling on the plate. Oh what will I eat with it? j....j....j...j..j (Action: Pretend to wobble like jelly on a plate, saying j,j,j,j,j)
Just one slight issue, we don't have JELLY in Burundi.So most of the children have no idea why they are wobbling.
Thus, one of my 'missions' this Summer was to purchase some jelly blocks to bring back for J day. I discovered that jelly no longer comes in blocks , it comes in little packets of granules, which are all very definitely Sugar Free!
Armed with my sachets, I eagerly anticipated J day in the Reception class.
Jelly and moto transport, interesting combination. Jelly and Bujumbura temperatures, somewhat sloppy combination.
Jelly tasting and small Burundian (Wise pictured above) Not-too-sure combination.


I have to confess that the above picture is in fact 'Staged'. I don't carry my camera at all times to make sure I have photographic evidence of all the strange things I land up doing. Sitting on the bike is Ashton (Burundian spelling Hatchiton) . On Tuesdays we have Clubs. Clubs finish at 4:30. But TIA, so at 5:45pm it is not too unusual to have a few 'left-overs'.
On our very first Tuesday back, it's 5:55pm and I am still waiting with Hatchiton. After a few phone calls , it is decided that I will transport said child to the house of one of the teachers, where he will wait until someone can come and get him. It is at these times that a little 'English' voice in the back of my mind starts wittering about, safety procedures and Risk Assessments. Next thing we are bumping along the road, Hatchiton wearing a rather large helmet, that may or may not stay on his head if he falls off. Me constantly asking him, if he's holding on  and telling him to yell loudly if he's going to fall off. The sight causing much entertainment to all on lookers in the Kinindo area.
Just in case you are wondering, he got there in one piece with all brain cells in working order.

I am now about to do some shameless, Fund Raising. The picture to the left is our present, Pets Corner.
I would very much like to develop this area. At the moment we have one Guinea pig cage. All the mummies and daddies together!! and a few babies!!!!
Next to them the rabbits. Mummies, daddies and babies. My plan is to have four larger cages and start a Family Planning System.
We want to transform the area into a place where the children can learn about Animal Husbandry, yes I deliberately said that, rather than Pet Care!
We also want to include an area for growing vegetables. But it all costs money. Not huge amounts. However, I don't often find myself in a position of having spare cash to put into projects like this. So if you read and feel moved to help , please do message me.
Finally, before you all nod off. This week I celebrated my birthday . I've had 5 birthdays since living in Burundi. The first was my 50th and I was caught very unawares by all the celebrations and demands that come with having a birthday. I was mortified that first year to find that at the Friday Assembly in the week of your birthday , you are required to go to the front of the assembly to be sung to and prayed for. No big deal? Ahhh, not until you have hundreds of children all clapping and chanting , DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!
I was utterly, traumatised that first year. So much so, that the next two years I managed to 'avoid' being at the assembly in my birthday week and the two following weeks , just to make sure.
Last year, presented a slight problem. Now I was the Head of the school. Can't really 'avoid' assembly. It took all my strength and resolve to make myself face the situation. But I did. When the DANCE chant came, I calmly informed the children that it was just not possible. I don't dance. Then in a moment of complete madness, I made them a promise that I would try and get myself to a point where I would dance , next year. You'd think after living for 53 years, I'd remember that years are very short!They go by, in a blink of an eye. And that's just what that year did. During the Summer it dawned on me that within weeks of returning to Bujumbura, I would need to be dancing.
Thankfully, my grandson Robert (5)has some pretty good moves. He does a great line in back seat dancing in the car, on the way to school. He taught me that it's just a case of 'letting go' and moving . Then, grand daughter, Megan (11) saved my bacon big time, by recording a very simple routine for me to copy. She did however break one condition I set. I did say when planning the moves to only move legs or arms, not both at the same time. I think I have a syndrome that makes it impossible for me to coordinate my top and and bottom half. I can still hear them yelling at me as a child, when trying to march in time down The Mall, for the Silver Jubilee.
Year 6 added the final support to my venture, by very quickly learning the routine and performing it at the assembly. So all I had to do was copy them.
Anyway, the end of it all, was the most incredible achievement of my life. I danced. I danced sober. I danced in front of 200 people. I didn't cry.  I danced. I finally managed to overcome all my hideous inhibitions, anxieties and paranoia and I danced. BUT, I think I might not be doing it too often. Video evidence, demonstrates a lack of coordination and fluidity in my movement. At 54 years old, I danced.