The long awaited spelling bee

Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
1
7
30
Trip End Jun 06, 2013


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Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Monday, November 5, 2012



These past few weeks I have been and still am a very proud teacher! For the past two weeks my 9th graders have been studying 74 words and their definitions including devour because they devour their biscuits every day, blatant because they are all so blatantly loud and talkative (haha, Xhosa people are known to be one of the loudest groups in the world), and aspire because they are all aspiring to get into University and achieve great things. Just the other week after going through 15 words a day, they entered the classroom for their first Spelling Bee. The prize at stake: the Top 4 spellers would get to go out to eat at Spur with Fics and I. Fics is the co-founder of Masinyusane with Jim. He is actually a famous tv star and is currently starring in an Afrikaans movie that's coming out in March. It’s so neat that he still is here every day for these kids. They really look up to him.

Nerves were running high as we gave them 10 minutes to look over their list one last time. The room was completely silent, that was definitely a shocking first. After explaining the rules, handing out scratch paper and pencils, and a "pass" token, the competition began. Each round the words got more and more tricky. I could just see some of them wanted the dinner so bad. It was actually a bit heartbreaking to see some of them be disqualified. I felt so sorry for them. At the same time I was so proud that they all studied for this outside of class.

In the end, I was very proud of the Top 4 winners! I was also very happy to see that we had two students from my 9a and two students from my 9b class in the top four. My 9b students always feel like they are behind and separate from the other ninth graders because they are “new” and “behind” in English; yet, the first place winner was Zikhona and she is in 9b. I think this inspired the rest of her classmates greatly.

 Everyone else still got a marshmallow (a special treat for them) and a Participation Certificate signed by Jim and I. They don’t get many awards like this so they all still seemed proud to leave with something in their hands. Jim (the Founder and Manager of Masinyusane) said that even this simple piece of paper with their name on it is something they will keep forever. The simple things really count here.

So, the following Monday we took the TOP 4 winners to Spur. This is, interesting enough, a Native American themed burger and steak place. It is a nice, family restaurant; to compare, it’s much like our Applebees. Anyway, my ninth graders had an awesome time. For each of them, it was their first time out to eat, besides Snowball who has been out once before. They were so nervous to order but yet so interested to learn simple things like how to cut apart their ribs. We had some very funny conversations too. None of them liked their onion rings which we couldn’t understand. But when I told them to try this orange sauce with it (“because it’s important to try new things”), Zolanie inhaled his rings and practically made a sauce soup! We were all laughing so hard. In addition, the restaurant also has a game room in the back with 12 different televisions and Playstation games for free. While waiting for the food and then the bill, they rushed off to play.

It was a fun experience for them and a very humbling experience for me. 
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