By Kirsten Dobler
It is the first official full day at The Campus. Everyone is slowly waking up under the miles and miles of sky (under our beautiful roof of course). I awoke to the quiet bustle of the women that have been hired to clean the hostel. It is surprisingly pleasant to wake up to sweeping. I am currently sitting on the red soil that covers all of the grounds, and filled in my shoes. I am sitting under a small summer hut that has been made for us. It looks a bit like a gazebo. After my walk around The Campus this morning, I began to reflect on our arrival to the new Campus.
I did not try very hard after our many days of travel to keep my eyes open on the bus ride to The Campus, but when I did open my eyes I found merchants coming up to the side of the bus selling apples. Many people watched as we drove by and some waved to us with big smiles on their faces. I fell asleep again and I woke up as we were driving onto The Campus. As we drove down the red dirt road, packed into the bus with our suitcases, we could see that there were already people on The Campus awaiting our arrival. As we pulled in near the door, the women began to sing for us. I was tremendously moved by this and held in my emotions as we exited the bus. Coming off of the bus we were showered in hugs and handshakes from the people that we will be working with for the next five weeks. After our initial hellos we began to unpack the bus. A line of women, as well as our students began to take the bags in from the bus; however the women were very persistent on carrying the bags. This was the first moment of uncertainty that I had. I was unsure of the etiquette in this situation. Was I being rude if I did not help, or was I taking a job away that they are being paid? I am still not completely certain, but we found a way for everyone to participate last night and I am sure we will find ways again when they arise.
Once we got settled in, we noticed that there were a lot of children standing around with us so we brought out a ball to play with. The boys quickly ran with Marten to the soccer pitch and the girls played by throwing the ball to each other. As we began playing with the girls we decided to try a name game. We shared many laughs as we tried to speak their names and they tried to speak ours. It will be a lot of work to remember the names of everyone, but I am really hoping that I can remember at least a handful. The children only learn to speak English once they start grade three, so only the older children speak English. This lead to a lot of silly following-the-leader happening. I got to dance around and have all of them copy me while laughing at our silly actions. I even got them to do the chicken dance, and they thought it was hilarious. We played until the sun went down and we had to go inside. Before the children left, everyone got hugs and high fives and said many ‘see you tomorrows’.
One of the main goals that we discussed before we left for Malawi was bringing this new Campus to life. When we arrived, as we were welcomed onto The Campus with smiles and laughter, it felt alive. Even after the two days of travel to come here, we were all excited to play with the children and take a look around The Campus. Last night felt like the first moment of life that I am sure will continue on in the next five weeks, and hopefully after we leave.
About the Blog
Since 2013, students participating in Transformative Praxis: Malawi have been writing blog posts reflecting on their experiences of participating in action research in Malawi. The original blog with the full archive can be found here