Monday, March 29, 2010


This picture is of all our coaches in front of our office, at Sithembile Primary.

As the end of every week rolls around, I begin to get more relaxed and relieved that the weekend is in sight and that things are calming down at work. Fridays are such a different type of day at our office; so you know that when you have made it through Thursday you have pretty much reached the weekend.

On Fridays, we have what we call Development Sessions; they are a day when all of our Coaches come into the office for a few hours to learn better tactics to deliver the curriculum, to receive payment stipends, to meet in their small groups to plan for the next week, and to do general logistics and spend some time together as a group.

The first day that we arrived in Port Elizabeth, we arrived on a Friday. I will never forget it: totally overwhelmed, exhausted and nervous, we walked into the office and introduced ourselves in front of the entire group, then stood in a line as each of them came by, shook our hands and told us their name. I think I remembered one name, Amy, because her name was one of the only familiar sounding names I heard that day. The four of us were completely out of our element, surrounded by 40 loud energetic individuals, speaking in a language we didn’t understand, using dramatic gestures and expressions: the four of us stood like flies on the wall, suddenly shy and quiet, barely uttering a word to anyone, just forcing smiles on our exhausted faces. “So, this is what every Friday is going to be like”, I thought.

As the weeks went by, and we all became more comfortable in the office and around the coaches, Fridays became like a welcomed habit. The format of Fridays has ranged from running activities outside, playing soccer and netball(in which, with all of my soccer coordination, I kicked a penalty kick into one of our coaches’ head), doing skits, sharing stories from their work with GRS and so much more. I wish I had kept track of what we have done every Friday, because each one has been so different, but so interesting.

Now, we have staff meetings on Thursdays, and part of the meeting is deciding what will be on the agenda for the development session. The four of us have become much more vocal in what we think should be included in these courses, and Dom and I have both had the opportunity to help lead activities for the entire group. One of my favorites was when Dom ran an energizer that involves all of them closing their eyes and walking around like an animal, trying to find their animal twin. I had tears running down my face I was laughing so hard.

Development sessions usually begin around 10 am, but the coaches begin arriving at the office between half past eight and nine, so there really is no time to even get settled in the office before they arrive. On Fridays, I usually never even open my computer before the session is over, or at all. I’ve sat on floors, tables, stood and sat outside during the duration of sessions. In short, these do not follow any sort of traditional format. While there is an agenda, and we stick to a time frame, beyond that these sessions are unlike anything I have ever experienced. It will be weird to go back to the States and a job where I will have to adjust to a more routine schedule on Fridays.

It has been interesting to have other guests and interns visit and come into the office on Fridays. They are completely overwhelmed and thrown off, unsure of how to operate, where to make phone calls or use their computer. We usually stake claim of the small closet in our office as our makeshift office for the day, the four of us eating lunch, doing work and making phone calls in a small closet filled with goals, soccer balls, papers and graduation snacks. I would say the closet is about 10 ft by 10 ft; so it is definitely some close quarters. The four of us are all used to sharing space and not really being able to get things done on Fridays, but it is absolutely entertaining to see the panic and frustration on the faces of others as they try to check their email and print things amidst the chaos of Fridays.

Because of Training workshops, end of the month payments and holiday break, we have not had a development course in over a month, so I am starting to miss Fridays. It is weird not having the coaches in our office all the time, checking in and chatting about their week. But, the next development session that we will have will fall on my birthday, so I am really looking forward to that one! I'll be sure to keep you posted. All the best from South Africa!

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