Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Today was the cluster (schools in our area) athletics competition. Athletics is code for track and field. Interestingly, athlete is used to mean track and field competitor not anyone who competes in sports.

Anyway, last year when we attended the athletics competition, we didn't really realize what a big deal it was. Since it happens early in the year, we hadn't been here long enough to realize that there weren't other big sporting events like it throughout the year. Though there are soccer and netball matches throughout the year, athletics is the only time when so many students from different schools are together at the same time. Last year, I was just annoyed by the amount of time spent preparing for the competition (practice makes it difficult to do many other activities), and while I was a little annoyed about it this year, I at least could see it in the bigger context.

Still, I was a little wary of the idea of spending hours in the sun trying to coordinate kids to participate in whatever event I was assigned to help with. But it ended up being a great day. I got co-opted into shot put and James performed a similar role in discus. I measured distances and shouted them to a teacher who I work with a lot. I had to repeat most of it twice because the roar of the crowd made it difficult to hear five point six seven or whatever I was saying. And while I admit standing in the sun for 5 hours was not exactly fun, it was so fun getting to see all the kids I know competing. Working at four schools, we know kids at all of those schools as well as the high school in our village and the middle school in the next village. Somehow kids from some of the other schools in other nearby villages seem to know who we are too and so they were also eager to say hi. And it was also fun to hang out with teachers from different schools all together.

Like everything in South Africa, racial dynamics came into play as the event was held at a primarily Afrikaaner school (actually I don't even know if there are any non-Afrikaaners there, I certainly didn't see any). Many of them came over to gawk at the children or yell at them for no apparent reason. Seeing us definitely confused them. Interestingly, besides the friendliness that we received from all around, the teenage boys also seemed to know that it was okay to make ridiculous comments to me (nothing offensive, just testing the waters) when they would never say those to the Afrikaaners.

Anyway, it was quiet the fun time and a great reminder of all the connections we have built her in South Africa.

No comments:

Post a Comment