My adventures serving in the Peace Corps

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gettin' back into the groove

Hey everyone! Sorry it has been a while since my last post... I haven't had much internet access, and I have been busy starting school and doing Camp GLOW stuff. Even though school has started, it still isn't in full swing. I STILL haven't been able to have class with two of my four classes because they don't have a classroom and therefore just don't show up. Our censeur also has not been around, so things have been hectic with working out schedules. School started in typical Beninese fashion: people not showing up for a few weeks, people getting kicked out for not having paid fees or- yes, this really happens- having too fancy of a hair weave. I knew what to expect this year, though, so I was much more patient with the process. Now that school has started, I am 80% relieved and 20% nostalgiac for summer! It is really good to have a set schedule once again, and I love how fast the time flies, but I forgot how exhausting teaching is! Being one your feet for five hours straight and then coming home to cook, clean, and lesson plan really takes up your day! I definitely feel much more comfortable as a teacher this year. I have my systems down for discipline, board organization, etc., and I think it makes a difference when the kids can feel that I am in control of the classroom. I am having a lot of fun teaching the basics like "to be" and "good morning" and counting to ten! We also had our first English department meeting this past week, and I am hopeful that those will be more useful this year. I am going to try and be head of the department this year, meaning I will run the meetings, meaning we will start on time and actually get stuff done :) My boss Maria is coming to observe me teach this coming Wednesday. I am really not at all nervous and think the session will go well. Last weekend, I celebrated my birthday with a few friends in Lokossa. Friday night we went out for beer and salad (yes, that is a really nice birthday dinner here!) and the next day we had a joint party for Miranna and I (see picture) at a yam pilee restaurant. Catherine has figured out how to make peanut butter filled cupcakes (amazing what you can do with a little creativity here in Benin!) so she brought those along. On my actual birthday I had to teach in the morning. That afternoon, Fifa and Mari and I baked a cake, and I ate dinner at my neighbors' house that night. They made pate and legume sauce for me (kind of like collard greens) with cheese and eggplant I had brought back from Lokossa. After dinner we ate the cake- Angele did NOT stick her fist in it this year! My neighbors then bought us all beers (even the wives and the hired help!) and we all danced for a while. They wanted me to teach them how to dance like a white person, which was pretty mortifying. They said they had seen white people dance in music videos and they wanted me to show them. I contented myself with watching them dance- Africans just have this inherent talant for amazing dancing. I have never seen anyeone else move thier body the way these people can. In the past week or two, my cats have essentially become outdoor cats. I was trying to keep them inside at night, but they would howl at the door for hours on end until I caved and let them out. I decided that the noise they make on the tin roof is more tolerable than the howling at the door and knocking things off shelves at 3am. Now that I have started letting them out overnight, I am pretty sure that Belle is pregnant, and has fleas. Nothing I can do about it, I guess. I am actually kind of excited to see little kittens born! When I go out of town over night now, I just put their food and water outside and lock them out of the house. Baby especially doesn't like it, but they will have to learn someday. Today I am heading to Come for a meeting about the regional English competition, and afterwards Michelle and Catherine and I are gonna have a nice dinner on the lake and then spend the night at my post. We are going to work on planning our Mali Christmas trip and our trip to Morocco on the way home next summer! Speaking of trips, John Mark and I are also in the process of planning our trip to Ghana in the spring! I am addicted to traveling :) I am in Cotonou now because I had a meeting with the organization I am hoping will fund Camp GLOW yesterday. Unfortunately they will not be able to give us a final answer for another three weeks or so. I will keep you posted on whether or not we will be looking for donations from home. So, all is well here. Time is REALLY flying and I am keeping planty busy with school and Camp GLOW. I know that people have been having trouble getting through to me by telephone- just keep trying over and over and over! That is usually what it takes. I miss all of you and am especially sad at this time of year ot be missing the beautiful Fall colors. I hear the weather has been quite cold over there (while it is starting to heat up dramatically here in Benin... check out the picture of the melting candles in my house)- have a cup of hot cider for me!
And enjoy the video: I fed one of the local monkeys!


loehrke said...

SO good to hear from you again!!!
It sounds like you are definitely settling into a much as that can be possible in Benin.
It is SO cool that you are going to try and be head of the English department this year. I would imagine that for the girls in your school that would REALLY be an important. I hope you are given the chance. You may not be able to dance as well as an African but you can damn well show them how to run a meeting!!!
Sounds like you had a grand birthday celebration (and one that you won't soon forget). I am guessing that you became pretty homesick at your birthday....please know that everyone is thinking about you back here and missing you as well.
But this year will FLY by so do as many things as you can and that includes LOTS of travel. See as many countries as you can and have lots of interesting experiences!!!
Stay healthy and strong, Mark Loehrke (Carly's dad)

Judith A. Johnson said...

I am happy to think that your African friends think white people can all dance like the videos they've seen. That's a myth I can live with :-)
Also glad to hear you are traveling and taking advantage of your relatively carefree life of the moment- you go girl!