December is considered the “slow month” for most of us YAGMs here in South Africa. This was definitely true for me. DAM has been closed since December 13 and won’t reopen until January 13.
Yep, that is a whole month.
During that time, I watched more movies than I can remember, crocheted and personalized ten giraffe-shaped bookmarks, read three books (and am almost done with a fourth), slept A LOT, celebrated Christmas in Joburg with some friends, traveled to Cape Town for New Year’s Eve, and spent a lot of time reflecting on my time here so far.
When my “break time” first began, I had mixed emotions. I was scared to have so much time off to think and potentially become very homesick. I was excited to have plenty of time to do whatever I wanted. I was nervous to return to work and have to “start over” again in my community and work placements.
When the crèche opened again on January 6, I was not sure what to expect. I was basically just hoping for a better response from the kids than when I first showed up four months ago. At that time, they spent the whole time staring at the scary white person. Luckily, I was welcomed back with literal open arms. One of the youngest children there, a girl who couldn’t walk or easily sit in a chair when I first met her and is now walking, playing, and attempting to say “Fine” when I ask her how she is, ran (or more like waddled) up to me with her arms outstretched and a huge smile on her face. Another little boy now calls me by name, which is surprising because when I left in December, he would just scream a random noise when he wanted my attention. Since the crèche re-opened, my good-byes have continued to get longer and longer each day. They are filled with hugs, shouts of “Good-bye, Teacher Family!”, high fives, waves, and smiles.
Now, one week back into work at the crèche, I am back into the schedule of lovin’ on some adorable kids in the morning and looking forward to returning each day. I have been welcomed back with open arms.
I am looking forward to DAM opening next week, and even if I’m not welcomed in the same way as I was at the crèche, I am hoping to provide the same kind of welcome (minus the waddling J) to everyone I come in contact with. We all deserve to feel welcomed and loved, just like the kids at the crèche have made me feel.
P.S. I would love to share pictures of my wonderful kids at the crèche, but due to their young age, it would not be appropriate to share pictures of them without the permission of their parents/guardians.