During J-term 2018, 286 students and 29 program leaders will participate in one of Luther's 17 courses around the globe. Although it's impossible to keep up with everyone, these blogs are designed to provide glimpses into our students' adventures. Below you'll find a blog post from the music 345 course: "Choral Singing in Namibia and South Africa." Check out the January Term 2018 Course Blogs page for more on each of the courses!
It's been a crazy couple of days full of singing, sightseeing, and sweating. On Monday we visited the Windhoek School for the Visually Impaired and had an experience beyond what we expected.
As soon as we got to the courtyard of the school, a small crowd formed and quickly grew when we began to warm up. Both our choir and the school's choir sang a few pieces. We announced we would be teaching the students one of our songs and as we dispersed ourselves into the crowd we were greeted with hugs and smiles. These brilliant little minds were eager to learn and mastered the song faster than we had.
The learners then had the option to give us tours of their school. At the mention of tours my new friends looked up to me and one exclaimed "I can give you a tour?" We started walking and were soon joined by two of her friends. They showed incredible pride in their school and were eager to show us everything...and I mean everything. I was pulled along to classrooms, storage rooms, dorms, the kitchen and bathrooms. As they showed me around they told me their favorite classes (natural sciences, math and reading), favorite colors (pink, pink and purple), and what they wanted to be when they grew up (doctor, nurse, doctor). My three new friends stopped our tour under a tree they called the love tree where they professed their love for one another. Though these children are living in a different country and being raised in a different culture, they had so many similarities with kids you would find in elementary or middle schools in the United States.
Before we left, the headmaster, Miss Franzman, spoke to us. She told of an instance in her classroom when she asked each student to draw a picture and explain what they had drawn. One boy had drawn a hand and when asked about it he explained that it was her hand. That, as his teacher, she had always reached out her hand whenever he needed it. This story was made even more impactful by the fact that she had lost one of her hands in an accident. The words she left us with emphasized that it's not the hand that reaches out, but rather the hand that is reached out to. This was the purpose of the school, to teach these learners how to not only reach out to others but to accept the hands that reach out to them.
I left the school with a smile on my face and my mind full of thoughts. Despite the impairments these children had, they had reached out their hands to us and led us without hesitation. I had entered the school with the expectation that we would have to lead the blind but instead the blind led us.