My adventures serving in the Peace Corps

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Me Complaining

Just thought I would do a quick update as long as I'm at a cybercafe. I taught my first lesson yesterday!! Right now we are doing something called “model school” for 4 weeks, which is basically a free 3 hour/day English class to prepare the students for the coming year, while giving us TEFL volunteers a chance to practice teaching before we have to do it for real next month! My lesson went alright, although I was the last teacher of the day so the students were antsy and chatty. We learned the numbers 1-20 and learned how to ask someone their age. It is a bit frustrating here because you can't use ANY French in your lessons, only English with drawings and acting to help you out. (This is the teaching philosophy here and we aren't allowed to mess with it since the kids will all be taking a national standardized test based on these standards) It is hard teaching the beginning English speakers, though, without using French, since they have nothing to base the English off of! I'm sure I'll get used to it soon enough. We each teach 3-4 days a week for an hour or 2 each day, so it is pretty intense training! Also, because model school is taking up our time to be in training classes, they have now made the TEFL volunteers come to school a half hour early and stay 15 minutes later... they were for sure not kidding when they said TEFL's training is more intense than everyone else's. (Stage is just a hard time in general, because the Beninese teaching style is very repetitive and group-oriented as opposed to the American idea that once something has been learned, you can move onto something else. Here we will so literally 4 or 5 different group activities on the same subject even if it is something we learned in middle school That is one huge complaint of volunteers- we are all adults and it is like being back in middle school again.)
Those of us who are advanced in French got to start learning the local language of our village! Since I am the only one learning Sahoue, I have a private tutor!It is odd being back to the basics of a language, but I learned things like “mifon” which means good morning, “odabo” which means good evening, and “ayow” which means I'm chillin', more or less.
I have been sick for the past few days, again. I have gotten this a few times now, just a 48 hour intense fever and then it's all gone. If it happens again, I will probably go and see the doctors in Cotonou (which is not a bad vacation- you get so sleep in air conditioning with sheets and a bedspread, they have wireless, hot water to shower in, and a huge movie room) A lot of people in my stage have been sick lately.
Speaking of Cotonou, I think my address (the one I have listed on the blog) is going to remain the same for my 2 years of service. My post is only 2 hours away from Cotonou, so I thinkthat I will just have my mail and packages go there since it is more safe and faster than having them sent to the village. I will let you know if I change my mind, but the Cotonou address should be it!(I don’t know why the font changed here... weird)
Last thing to mention is the taxi incident that some of the volunteers in my stage were involved in. As I think I have said before, people here drive way too fast for road conditions, and there aren't many traffic laws; no seat belts in any of the cars. A group of volunteers were traveling back from their post visit together in a taxi, and the taxi was going about 60mph down a main road in a village. A guy tried running across the road in front of the taxi, and almost made it save for his foot/ankle. Apparently the hit produced a clean fracture that snapped the ankle in half and left his foot hanging from his leg by the skin. (SO many ways this accident could have been prevented, but I won't get into that) When the taxi turned around to see if the man was alright, a huge crown had formed around him and was angrily mobbing towards the taxi driver. (It is not uncommon for people to get lynched here for something careless like that) Eventually the driver agreed to take the man he had hit to the hospital, but that involved shoving the bleeding and screaming man into the already packed taxi with the volunteers and driving for close to an hour to the nearest hospital. Everyone is doing alright now, but it sure shook those volunteers up. Like I said, the driving here can be pretty scary and I'm glad that I only have to travel about 2 hours to get to Peace Corps Headquarters in Cotonou. There were another 2 volunteers this weekend who got into a small accident (they were rear ended pretty hard), but they are fine. Don't freak out because of reading this, the volunteers who have been here for 2 years said they have never seen or heard of these kind of accidents happening, it's just a bummer that they both happened this weekend.
Sorry to end on a depressing note, but that's all for now! A toute a l'heure!

1 comment:

pasquali1007 said...

Ok, so off topic. I heard from someone who was born in Morocco that it is difficult to travel to Timbuktu or Benin unless I fly. So I need to see how expensive and convenient flights are from Spain or Morocco. The reason I say this is because I need to purchase my ticket to Spain soon for a good deal. Do you have any insight on how to travel in Africa? I plan on coming Dec. 20th-ish to Early January. The cruise is from the 21st to Jan. 4th. If I were to stay a few more days in January, would you be able to meet somewhere? would I have to come to Benin? Sorry to throw this on you but I figured I need your opinion before I make travel arrangments. By the way, my mouth watered when you mentioned all the fruit in your region. I hope the lessons become more fun and less stringent. But it sounds like it is the way of the land. I hope I get to visit you but alas if oil prices are too high (Damn you George!) and I must fly, I need to see if it is in the budget. Plan B is to win the lotto or inherit money from an old lady I befriend and comfort until she passes. Take care and feel better!

-Dave