The end of our trip was bittersweet. In many ways, I think a lot of us were ready to go home, but it was sad for such a great experience to be ending. The time at the school seemed to go by so quickly. By the last day, we were just starting to really get to know the kids and establish connections and a true understanding of their abilities, which made it sad to leave when it felt like we were just getting started. Most of the boys were wonderful to work with and seemed to really enjoy how interactive we tried to make our lessons and activities and seemed to really be having fun. It made me wonder if they were that happy there all the time, during their regular school days.
We made it! After approximately 25 hours of travel, we finally arrived in beautiful Sydney, Australia. After the long journey, I am very thankful to have two feet firmly on the ground. International travel was quite the process. I’m unsure if our matching Augustana tank tops worked as more of a blessing or a curse in the airport. I think the employees were overwhelmed when they saw the army of Americans in the royal blue tanks marching their way. We probably were a sight to see to those native to Australia. I didn’t think I would stand out as an American so easily like everyone had warned us about, but boy was I wrong! After finally getting through Customs, we were able to hail a taxi to take us to our apartment. I was lucky enough to snag shotgun…and marched my way to the driver’s side of the car. How ignorant of me to forget they don’t drive on the same side of the car/road as we do. My friends enjoyed a nice laugh at that one. When we did arrived at the apartment, after the fifteen hour flight from LAX to Sydney (let me emphasize the 15 hours) we were scurried on a walking tour of the surrounding area with our CAPA advisors right away. Although I was tired and smelly from all of the traveling, it was nice to get a taste of where we would be spending the next two months. After that we were on our own for the weekend to explore and do whatever we wanted.
It’s hard to think we arrived in Sydney less than 48 hours ago and already so much has happened. I’ve tried to take full advantage of the free time this weekend allowed because I know once work begins it will be hard to come by. Because we are given a pass that allows us on any form of public transportation, we have been traveling mostly by bus. It may take a little while longer to get a hang of the different lines and general direction of things, but I think I’m starting to get a grasp on it. This weekend alone we hit the beach, explored downtown Sydney, and shopped around the nearby towns. It’s very exciting to roam around with no destination, it allows us the freedom to get lost and stumble into new places. Today, we found a beautiful church with very high ceilings, St. Peters Catholic Church, about a twenty minute walk from the apartment. I can’t wait go to mass next Sunday and compare the service from home. In the short time we have been here, I have already been able to experience and immerse myself in this new culture. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity, it seems to be truly one of a kind. I can’t wait to see what is in store.
I am writing this in the security line at the Montego Bay Airport, which is absolutely insanely long. The past few days in Kingston at the Alpha Boys School have been incredible. Even though it started out extremely disorganized and stressful, it all worked out wonderfully.
I will never take the resources I have for granted again. When I student taught I had 65 geometry students and almost everyday I made copies of notes or a class activity for each of my students. At Alpha though the girls have had to share copies or copy things down into their notes. My students complained about having to carry their textbooks whereas these students would cherish the opportunity for a free resource like that. It was so easy to put together notes with the SmartBoard and demonstrate various geometric concepts. While I did put together quite a few activities and made copies before I came down here, this experience has challenged me to be more creative and to think on my toes. It has reminded me a lot of my experiences tutoring high school students in the Quad Cities in the sense that I know very little about teacher’s expectations for the students and what material they have already been introduced to.
I never thought in my life that I would fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the Sea. That morning we all headed to the beach after breakfast and some of us swam out to the cliff where we jumped off a rock that was made into a diving board. I thought that was going to be the highlight of my vacation, especially since I’m a little bit afraid of heights and was so proud of myself after jumping. That #1 highlight soon changed though after reach falls.
I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this blog about my experience at the Alpha Boys School. There’s not a word or group of words, saying, song lyric, famous quote, poem or picture that could ever describe the past three days. I can attempt to tell stories and paint a picture for my audience, but I will never do the happenings in the cafeteria of the Alpha Boys School justice. I can show people pictures and let people watch and listen to my videos, but those shots won’t capture the true beauty of the boys that surrounded me for the past three days.