Some people are born to be doctors, lawyers and politicians. Others grow up to be gourmet chefs, fashion designers and poets. Allie Violet always knew that she wanted to be a teacher, to nurture young minds and inspire a hunger for learning in the children that she taught.
It was not until she found herself in a make shift classroom under thorn tree in the heart of Zambia that she realized that life could not be learnt.
In the short space of a couple of minutes, an exam hall in one of South Africa's finest universities was dead quiet. Well, besides the rustle of papers, the scratching of pall point pens and the occasional sigh.
Moments before, the hall had been filled with excited voices as fourth year teaching students settled down to write their final exam. It was the culmination of four years, for most students at least, of hard work, tears and too many notebooks.
Allie Violet sat in the far right corner, right at the back of the voluminous hall, quite content to avoid the distracting natter of the girls around her. In an earnest attempt to collect her thoughts on the exam in front of her before the starting bell was rung, she couldn’t help but let her mind wander to the adventures she had been dreaming about.
Although the Violet family had never flaunted their wealth, it was no secret that the Violet children had everything a child could imagine. Even when Allie left for university, her residence room had been furnished with modern linen and decor, her textbooks had been bought brand new and the latest technology tucked away in a modest, black case.
The promise of blue seas, white beaches and the lure of foreign delicacies and new cultures were exhilarating enough but, for Allie, no family holiday to the Algarve in Portugal or the sophisticated streets of Paris could compare with what awaited. It was the harsh Zambian sun and the expectation of rusty, corrugated tin classrooms in a tiny settlement far from any bustle that would give her what she so desperately longed for.
“Focus Allie,” she whispered out loud to herself as she reached for her pen.
After what seemed like days later, the bell was rung to signal the end of the three hour, written exam. With a deep sigh and an enormous grin on her face, Allie shuffled through the hundred odd students to the front of the hall to hand in her paper.
Walking out of the stuffy building, through the Jacaranda flowered paths and down the university steps to get to her car, Allie thought she had left learning behind for good, to teach.