Yesterday Wellyna and I got to have coffee with Libby (a math teacher from VG who moved here from Oregon!) and walk ar. She told us more about Grahamstown, VG, and her transition here. She has lived here for about three years. She got her teaching certificate through Rhodes University here in town and hasn't left since then! She did her student teaching in a township school near Grahamstown and said it really opened her eyes up to the corruption in the country. The principal of her township school had a C class Mercedes and the 60 students in the classroom were sharing 13 textbooks. The government says they are making the country a better place, but are really just manipulating the numbers for test scores and only choosing the most positive outcomes to showcase. It is really upsetting. Even though VG is one of the best schools around, in order to pass some classes students only need to get a 30%, and that is about all that some girls can get. They do have a 100% graduation rate, however, and have had that for the last 15 years. Considering some of the girls are graduating with passing scores of 30%, it is still better than one of the township schools Libby mentioned where none of the students graduated one year because none of them passed. It really is a sad cycle, but it is better than it was during the apartheid, so the teachers here view any improvements as positive, regardless of the level.
Today is just a lounging day, getting our rest in before we start teaching tomorrow. We had all intentions of going to church this morning, but we didn't know what time it started. Dr. Baxen (our coordinator) came to us around 9:45 this morning asking what we were up to and we mentioned church. She said the one that she normally goes to starts at 9:30, but she hadn't planned on going this morning. She said that we can go with her next week though. I think going to church will help us feel more acclimated to the culture and we can meet some other new people. Grahamstown is sometimes known as the "City of Saints" because of how many churches there are in the city. One of the churches has such a big steeple that it is considered a landmark, changing the ranking of Grahamstown from town to city. I took some pictures when we were out walking yesterday, but haven't loaded them. Wellyna has loaded hers onto her blog though, and the link is in the right hand column.
We're both excited to start school tomorrow so we can have something to do that will keep us busy. Libby is picking us up at 6:55 am tomorrow, so we'll definitely be going to bed early tonight! Please don't hesitate to ask questions if you have any about what we're up to. I may not be able to post every day once classes start, but we'll see! I will definitely keep you updated!