english club

one of my success stories here at apagie this year has been the creation of the english club. i feel sort of guilty calling it my success because i didn’t really do much. the credit really goes to a handful of kids, notably the club president david, vice-president jean de dieu, and members jean baptiste, ernest, and kasim, who kept hounding me to meet with them even on days i would have rather gone home and crashed.

we’ve been meeting tuesdays after class for an hour or so, starting second term. at first i did most of the planning, bringing in speaking games and discussion topics. during the third term i gradually began to hand it over to the leaders and discussions focused on how to organize the club and interest more students. i started to notice that the members were speaking to each other in english even outside of meetings.

mid-term, it had to be september, we decided to do a concert showcasing the language- with songs, poems, and short plays written by the students in order to show the school who we are and what we do and attract more members for next year. my student theatre days from high school and RUST came rushing back to me as i coached them on writing scripts, then rehearsing them, getting permission from the director, finding a venue (the refectory), inviting the appropriate people, locating a sound system (amanda’s laptop and a microphone from a local church), publicizing the event, and finally pulling together props and even a curtain.

on the night of the event, the night after the last exam of the year, the students scrubbed down the floor of the refectory and rearranged the chairs as our audience began flooding in. we must have had over 400, with students sitting on each others’ laps, standing in the back, and crowded outside to peer in the windows. a full house for sure. kasim played warm-up comedian to kill for time while we putzed with the ‘sound system’ and waited for VIPs – the director, prefet de discipline, and executive secretary of musha sector (with translation provided by the amazing jean claude zibera).

finally, jean de dieu and i kicked us off as co-MCs. song followed comedy sketch, followed rap, followed poem, and at the end each club member introduced themselves and gave a short speech on the importance of english and the english club. the conch was then passed to the VIPs (as is necessary and appropriate in these sorts of events) who, after two hours of my students’ non-stop english, slipped into kinyarwanda to congratulate the performers and organizers and urge all to join the english club next year.

i left the concert on a high like i haven’t had in ages, full of pride at what my students had produced, still laughing over the comedies they’d performed, impressed and even awed at some of the raps they’d written. when given a little support and motivation these kids are amazing.

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~ by aliciawolcott on October 25, 2007.

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