The Africa Class

(from Julie)

This is my first entry on the team blog!  Our family arrived in Burundi about six months ago.  While Logan and the other physicians and administrators are busy at the hospital, the other half of the team is busy helping teach the team’s children at Kibuye Hope Academy in our newly built three-room schoolhouse.

There are currently 6 kindergarteners, 6 second graders, and 6 students 4-7th grade.  We have two full-time teachers, Scott and Lindsey Nimmon, but all the moms, our team intern, and even the team accountant pitch in to do the best we can to give our children the best education possible. 

We choose to see our remote location as a benefit, and an opportunity to give our children a completely unique education that they may not have had if they lived anywhere but Africa.  Thus for the first time the team is offering “The Africa Class” to our kindergarteners this year.  Somehow I was recruited to teach our youngest students all about Africa.  Believe me, out of all the adults on our team I am probably the LEAST qualified to teach this class, but we are diving in and I am enjoying the opportunity to learn right along with them!

The Africa Class meets everyday and is exploring one country at a time, finding it on the map, learning what language the people speak, researching its flag and coloring their own version of each flag.  The children are really looking forward to having a complete book of African flags when we are finished!  It’s so fun discovering the meaning behind each brilliantly colored flag.  For example, did you know that Malawi changed its flag for two years (2010-2012)?  Just ask one of our kindergarteners… they could tell you all about it!  

The kids love poring over their maps, and even though they can’t read most of the names, they can point right to Algeria, Botswana, Chad, and more.  They probably could even tell you a couple facts about many of the countries like what they eat, what they wear, and what the major crops are.

The class is full of discovery, wonder and imagination.  We dance, we sing, we pretend to ride to class on a camel.  We try to experience as much of each African nation as we can from culture to climate and maps to music.

- We charmed a make-believe snake in Tunisia, tasted chocolate while passing through Côte d’Ivoire, and traced the journey of the Portuguese settlers to Angola.

- While learning about the Copper Belt in Zambia, we designed our own experiment to watch copper turn green.  

- We pretended the Fader’s house was Ethiopia, and we were greeted at the door by Heather who treated us to an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

- The Mclaughlin’s house became Kenya as we tasted chai and heard all about their time there. Ben loves to remind us that he is African because he was born in Kenya.  

Everyday is an adventure!  

- We imagine ourselves living in a giant Tanzanian baobab tree, we pretend we are gorillas from the Odzala rainforest in the DRC, we sing in Arabic while wondering what it might be like to truly be thirsty and not have water available.   

- We traced our hands and designed our own henna artwork while stopping off in Morocco, walked like an Egyptian through the halls of our school, and formed a mud hut out of clay while journeying through Nigeria.  We found sugarcane growing nearby, solved a Somalian riddle and acted out a well-known South African folktale.  

The kids love to pray for people to know Jesus all across this continent.  We talk about poverty, starvation and war.  But we also marvel at the beauty: the islands of Seychelles, the snow-capped mountains of Lesotho, and the ability many Africans have to carry everything on their heads!  

If you or your children would like to discover more about Africa along with us, I would recommend a children’s book called “AFRICA is Not a Country.”  It counters stereotypes while celebrating the diversity of Africa in its cultural traditions and modernity.  Meanwhile you can pray with us for Africa, for Burundi, and for our school, Kibuye Hope Academy – both teachers and students.  Pray they develop a love for this continent to which God has called us.  

The children’s curiosity is contagious.  It’s a joy to be a researcher, adventurer, and discoverer along with them.  We look forward to watching these young ones grow up in this beautiful place called AFRICA.


-J said...

Sounds fun! Have you seen the book, "Give your child the world?" It's a curated reading list of 600 children's book recommendations, sorted by region, country, and age range (ages 4-12).

onewhostrives said...

Love this! I want to take this class when we get there.

Cindy said...

Such a joy to read about this curriculum coming to life!! What a marvelous kindergarten year for all!!

Rebekah said...

What a great way to make learning about Africa fun & memorable! I, like many others it seems, would love to be in on the festivities & activities :) Way to go, teachers, at embracing the life God's given you!