Yesterday I took 37 children under the age of five to a farm located in the Nile Delta outside Cairo. The thing about field trips as a teacher is that they aren’t the fun break in the normal school-day routine that they were when I was a student. In fact, they are a bit of a nightmare.
When we stepped outside the bus I was surprised to see our band of 3 and 4 year olds organising themselves into a snake-like line. Everyone seemed to be acutely aware that it was the time to follow directions and be orderly. We moved into a central part of the farm. There you could see the chicken coop, bunny cages, duck pond, sheep pen, puppy house, and butterfly garden.
But when one of the farmers brought the tractor and let down the gate to the attached wagon, something snapped. The children all burst around the farm area like vagabond fireworks. At first I just stood into myself. What do you expect bringing a bunch of city kids into the farm for the first time?
Then I yelled. Two children named Mohammed turned around and I tried to give my best imreallyfuckingseriousthistime face. It kind of worked. They frowned and walked sheepishly to my side. The three other teachers and I continued to haul in the rest like a bunch of wayward cattle.
The tractor ride was not much better. After much insistance to not sit on their knees and to lean away from the side when passing through the bushes, many students complained in unison of their knees hurting and three got smacked in the face by protuding branches.
Afterwards the farm owners made us some homemade ballady pizza, the best pizza I ever had in Egypt. Most of the kids, however, were uninterested. They picked off peppers, licked off the sauce and cheese, and left the rest of the slightly-charged doughy goodness behind.
We spent the rest of the day orchestrating a mass garlic planting endeavour in take-home plastic cups, and storytime by the tractor. Before we even thought to be tired, it was time to go. The farm owners, a British-Egyptian family, seemed somehow more exhausted than us, and happy to see us go.