Today was our third and final day at Chikumbuso. The day started off normally with each of us teaching four classes from ranging grade levels. Zora and I taught Pre-K and 3rd graders. For Pre-K we sang the ABC song and taught the students shapes and colors, and for 3rd grade we taught verbs, adjectives and nouns. We played plenty of fun games many of the children had never heard of like seven-up, four corners, and charades.
Although the day began routinely, it ended very differently. Since it was our last day we participated in a closing ceremony. All of the kids got together to sing goodbye songs and thank LearnServe (and an American bible church group that was also visiting) for spending time with them. We also got to watch the Chikumbuso poetry club’s performance, which was really fun. They dubbed themselves the “Black Angels” and wore black cloaks with white paper hats. The Black Angels performed two poems about elephants and a prayer. Our LearnServe team sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with Kaoru playing the guitar, and I think the kids really enjoyed it. The widows at Chikumbuso, who make beautiful bags and purses out of plastic bags, treated us all to a traditional Zambian song and dance. Some LearnServe travelers, including myself, joined in the dance with the widows. That memory will definitely stick with me for a long time.
Later, we all got to eat a traditional Zambian meal, called n’shima, in addition to cabbage and chicken. N’shima is made from corn and somewhat resembles mashed potatoes. The chicken tasted amazing because it was so fresh – we watched the women kill the chickens, pluck the feathers, and gut the meat only a few hours earlier. I’m so used to processed and packaged food in America, so the freshly cooked chicken was definitely a new experience. And since I’m also a very picky eater, I was reluctant to eat the food initially, but I’m so glad that I did.
After we finished eating, we all hung around Chikumbuso to say our final goodbyes and take pictures. I made several new Zambian friends who were the same age as me and we talked a lot about life in America. None of them had ever been outside of Zambia, so it was difficult to explain things like skyscrapers and different road laws. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun differentiating between Zambian and American culture. When I asked about their aspirations, one told me that he wants to be the president of Zambia. It’s inspiring to see how ambitious and intelligent these kids are despite their lack of resources.
All in all, it was amazing to see how close we could get to the kids in a mere three days. The kids were so warm and friendly, so it was incredibly easy to connect to them. I was touched when a little girl said to me, “Don’t forget us when you go back to America!” Chikumbuso actually means remembrance in nanja, the local language, and after my experiences here, I can say without a doubt that the community is unforgettable.
Leah Y., Rockville High School