My adventures serving in the Peace Corps

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Two More Weeks...

Happy weekend everyone! I don't have a whole lot of exciting news this week, but I thought I would update since I'm at a cyber cafe.
This week flew by, I think because we're so busy. We start model school at 7:30 every morning, and once we have taught class, observed other teachers, and given each other feedback, we don't get home for lunch until noon. Class starts again at 3, when we have an hour and a half of language, then we have to lesson plan for the next day, which takes at least an hour. Most of the teachers usually go out for a cold beer afterwards, which is totally necessary after dealing with kids and lesson planning in the heat and humidity all day. By the time I get home at night, eat dinner, and finish lesson planning/test writing, it is 9:30 and I am exhausted so I go to bed! Even though I get up at 6, I am still getting more sleep now than I have in a while.
I taught my first disastrous lesson this week, as well as my first 2 hour lesson. The disaster lesson was on television vocabulary like soap opera, game show, commercial, etc. The lesson didn't go well both because I was in a new class and overestimated what the kids would know, and because I hadn't planned it carefully enough. It was a good learning opportunity for me, though, and when I retaught the lesson the next day it went MUCH better. My 2 hour lesson was on giving advice, specifically with “should” and “shouldn't”. The lesson went pretty well, but I found it was hard to teach some concepts because of their limited vocabulary.
The mail situation has continued to frustrate me this week. I got a card from my mom and a small package from my grandma, which were wonderful, but that's all! I know for a fact that several people sent me packages and envelopes in July that still haven't gotten here! I have, however, gotten a few letters and small packages within a week and a half of them being sent from the U.S.! Another frustration was that Peace Corps made us reimburse them for taxes they had to pay on packages of ours, but still haven't given us the packages! We gave them the money on Wednesday, thinking they had the packages for us then, but that would make too much sense, so we haven't gotten them yet. The general rule of thumb throughout training so far has been that if something is logical, you shouldn't count on it. I could go into details, but just know that good old American logic is completely missing here and that has been a huge frustration of all of the stagiaires so far. All part of cultural immersion, I guess.
Here's a good story: one of the volunteers had 2 scorpions in her bed this week. I almost died when I heard this, and, Murphy's law, come home to find a more-or-less tarantula on the wall of my bedroom. I decided to get one of the kids to kill it for me, presumably with a shoe. The 7 or 8 year old proceeds to smash the spider against the wall with his hand, even though it is nearly bigger than his hand. Sigh. It is humbling to know that a 7 year old is much braver than you will ever be.
Let's see, what else... we got our swearing-in fabric this week. It sure is... pink! I decided to give some to my host mama and papa so that they can have outfits made out of it and then we can all have matching outfits to wear to swear-in and whenever else we want. They LOVED it! They needed more than I had anticipated, so between their outfits and mine, I won't have much left over. That's ok, I will send home what I have left for you all to see.
This week the host families had a meeting with training facilitators from Peace Corps. My papa came home and told me all the gossip from it! I guess that the families are overall very happy with us, but of course had things to vent about, such as us not liking or eating enough food and not taking more than 2 showers a day- scandalous, I know. We wrote anonymous comments to be read at the meeting too. We also had another person ET (Early Terminate) this week, brining our group's count to 55 people since 9 have ETed.
Next week we are invited to a gala at city hall in Porto Novo which should be pretty fun. We were told to come dressed in our finest Beninese-style clothing and get ready to dance the night away! People are getting excited for swear in too, which is in 13 days! That also means that training is almost over, thank goodness. This coming week is the last real week of training, and the last week should be all parties and getting ready to move to post! Speaking of, I get my refrigerator today!! I also went to the supermarket this morning and bought things I will need to cook at post such as a ton of olive oil, soy sauce, mustard, and jam. I'm going shopping for pots/pans and other household items later this afternoon.
I have been thinking about home a lot lately since everyone is in band week right now! I hope that is going well; I miss it! The first football game is a week from today, and it KILLS me that I can't watch it!!! Only 2 more weeks until we move to our villages, crazy. Keep up the letters/packages, and I would still love some phone calls! Much love!


Brenda said...

We could hear the drumline!!!

Hey! Glen and I went for a walk the other night through the neighborhood and on the way home, down Arborview, the wind was just right and we could hear the drumline practicing! I immediately thought of you!! It was a warm and muggy night though, and I thought: "Boy, I bet the breeze is feeling pretty good for those marching right about now!"

Don't get too down on yourself for the "disaster lesson". Even those who are trained teachers have had the "lesson from hell" strike! You sound like you're doing great though - learning from your lessons and as you said, the next time around went really well. You will be such a gift to these kids once you land in your village and can develope 'your classroom'. You're also a very good sport - between crazy, off the chart-size bugs to wearing *pink* (something I'm not sure I would be as "good" about) - your attitude is what's getting you through the tough parts! Hang in there. We're thinking of you often. [It's the last Saturday night worship service tonight (cuz of UM football parking next week) :-(]

Jane said...

Here's an article with a photo of the MMB.