My Other Job

Even unpaid interns need to eat.  So how do I both pay off student loans and live in Rwanda (where the cost of living is equivalent to Boulder) while not making money at my job? Excellent question. By promising my first born child to the government of course (sorry honey, you need to go with these men now, just know that mommy loves you more than she did when she made this promise…)

And by finding a second, paying, job of course.

So I teach English at a nearby(ish) primary school in the mornings. Because, I am so skilled, in things like-grammer rules and speling and things etc.

No worries says the nun who hired me, because my main duty is speaking and listening reinforcement. I just need to talk to kids who have never heard English in an American accent and ensure they comprehend the message I am conveying.

I think I get more out of this than they do.  Especially in entertainment. Like on Tuesday.

I take tea break with the other teachers every Tuesday while the students have their own porridge/football break. This Tuesday, the male teacher for P4 (one of my classes) was sick.  But he was able to come for tea break, in a full suit—jacket, tie, and slacks. I still want to know why he was so formal for going to the hospital but comes to class in jeans and a polo? Anyway, he shows up for whatever reason, very sick and immaculately dressed. And it was quite hilarious listening to him talk to the nun who runs the school.  His voice was soooo high that every time he said something, the other 8 teachers in the room would crack up and then mimic his girlish expression.

I really do appreciate working with the Rwandan teachers.  On Wednesday I was furiously grading P3’s exercises so that I could get back to the As We Forgive office and navigate conflicts. The students were on break so I had what I thought would be a quiet classroom to work in for like 10 minutes. From the window I can hear the shouts from hundreds of children playing football or the dance-clap game I can’t figure out for the life of me. It sounds like the game is moving to the classroom when I look up to see the male teacher for P3 burst through the door with 25 third class students screaming at him and pulling at his lab coat (yes, all teachers wear lab coats here). He lunges for the desk I am at and grabs a drawer, laughing hysterically. I side with him, not actually knowing what is going on and help open the drawer. He thrusts in a handful of balloons and all the children scream no, while he continues to laugh.  THEN, he makes them line up and they pay him to get a balloon. Umm yeah. I laughed too.

Ultimately, it is the children themselves that make the double job thing worth it. On Wednesday again, when I first walked into the classroom to try and finish my grading, one little girl is still in there getting something from her desk before joining the other girls to clap and jump and get each other out at whatever complicated game thing they play. As she is running out the door a banana falls from her bag. She picks it up like it is a nugget of gold and excitedly shows me and then her friends yelling, “BANANA!” This was not enough of a celebration though, so she begins to dance and sing to the banana. I get pretty excited about my food too though, so I just smiled knowingly and then began deciphering third class handwriting.

On my way out that day a boy from the P4 class comes up to me and says “Teacher, I have a question.”

“Ok, what would you like to know?”

“Will we have class on Saturday?” (N.B. part of my job is to host speaking club on Saturdays for P4. We spend two hours playing speaking games or watching amazing films like Robin Hood and Finding Nemo to help their pronunciation. It is actually their favorite thing in the world and it really upsets them when we don’t have club.)

“Yes, do you want to come?”

“Yes! Ok where do you live?”

“[Uh…] I live at Gishush. Where do you live?”
“I live at Kimironko. OK bye.” And he instantly disappears.

Yeah ok, see you…


2 thoughts on “My Other Job

  1. Janice Winney says:

    Oh Hannah, this is one of your best yet! So funny and sweet (love the words to your (hypothetical child) and the girl with the banana. So glad you are there and sharing your experiences.

    • Hannah Ricks says:

      Haha seriously, the girl with the banana was incredible. I really really wish I could actually convey what it was like, it was unbelievably hilarious. But my words cannot do her dance routine and shouting any kind of justice.

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