teaching, learning and living around the world
I thank Mama Godelieve for welcoming us every Friday at her bar, for sharing her mosquito spray when we forget ours, for occasionally joining us at the table for a beer (and for respecting our choice in Tembo, as she prefers Skol). Over the course of three years she has always refused a tip from us. Every time. I appreciate her for always smiling at our arrival, always making an effort to have a conversation in the complicated lingual space between her creative English and our creative French. And lastly, I thank Mama Godelieve for inviting us to the school mentioned in my last entry- my first visit there was my first peek into academic life outside of The American School. And I think it’s fair to say that my first time there was a planted seed which now has grown into this whole Goma volunteer project. So… all of those reasons, among all the others that are too many to write, are why I appreciate Mama Godelieve.
In my last entry, I mentioned that students from The American School of Kinshasa (TASOK) connected with students from Mama Godelieve’s School. This isn’t actually the name of the school, but it just goes to show how important Mama Godelieve has been in helping us connect. So here is a little background on how I got to know Mama Godelieve, and how our relationship has developed over time.
When I first arrived at TASOK three years ago, the veteran teachers were quick to inform me of the Friday ritual for teachers at our school. “Every Friday around 4pm, we all walk up the street to a little bar on the side of the road.” Sounded great to me!
So every Friday, still, there are glances, winks, and emails exchanged among our teachers asking, “You going to Mama G’s today?!” I cherish this tradition so much, mostly because on so many levels it is the time every week in which I get a small taste of “The Real Congo.” The Congo outside the various expatriate bubbles that are planted all around town.
Mama Godelieve is married with several children. Among her immediate family, several have studied and/or are living in Europe and the United States. Her eldest son often replaces her as manager of the bar if she has to be somewhere else. The only times I’ve ever heard of her missing work was for one of three reasons- church, wedding, or a funeral. She works hard, and seems to enjoy being there- except of course when it is TRES CHAUD (very hot) outside.
There are just so many reasons to love Mama Godelieve. Like I said before, way too many reasons to write them all here, but hopefully you can at least begin to understand why I think she is so totally wonderful.