My adventures serving in the Peace Corps

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Halloween and 1st GLOW meeting

Happy weekend! The weekends are beginning to feel precious now that school is back in session- my weeks are crazy! Between teaching 4-6 hours a day, going to the market, lesson planning, and cooking/cleaning, my days are shot. Time is flying, and I am definitely ok with that.
Last weekend, we had our VAC meeting and Halloween party. We had some creative costumes: 2 zemidjan drivers, a Beninese mama, a Beninese mechanic. Kristin's neighbors got a huge kick out of those! The two French volunteers in Dogbo came to the party as Peace Corps volunteers (dirty, tattered t-shirts), so that was pretty funny, too. On a side note, it was lovely to be able to speak real French with them for a night. One of the girls turned out to be from my favorite little town in the Dordogne river valley! We made chili and corn chips for dinner, and made cinnamon rolls in the morning. The picture is of homemade donuts Michelle and I made the night before in Lokossa!
School went well this week. I am really impressed with my quatrieme students- they correctly remembered simple present, present continuous, present perfect, and simple past verb tenses! We have been reviewing all week since it has been my experience that they promptly forget all the English they have learned in a year the moment school is out for summer. (Students here don't take English as seriously as they take math and science.) One of my quatrieme classes only has three girls out of fifty students, so sad. This is one of the reasons that we have decided that the main focus of Camp GLOW this year will be giving girls techniques to stay in school. I am giving my first quizzes this week.
We had our first staff meeting this week, and I am pleased to report that they are much less painful this year with our new director- he doesn't like to hear himself talk as much as our old one did :) Our English department meetings have been going really well so far this year: we ONLY speak English, 8-10 people show up (as opposed to last year's 2-3), and we actually talk about grammar points and lesson strategies. This coming week, I will put myself up for election as head of the department... wish me luck! It will be interesting to see whether or not they will want a woman/outsider in charge.
This week my homologue came over and checked out my electricity counter and fan, to see if we could figure out why I pay about 4 times more than most volunteers for my electicity bill each month. He says that there is no problem with my counter or my fan, and that the problem is I just use my fan too much, and am being charged too much per kilowatt hour. (The part about the fan is bogus, I use my fan as much if not less than other volunteers... I bought a new, smaller fan here in Cotonou yesterday, in hopes that it will use less electricity.) He says that it is too late now to start asking to see the electricity bill so... I will just have to suck it up for the rest of my time here... which is now only nine months!
I am in Cotonou now because yesterday was our first meeting for Camp GLOW. About thirty volunteers showed up, which is wonderful. The only problem which could arise is not being able to allow all of those volunteers to actually stay at the camp for the week... I think we can only take about twenty. We'll see! I'm still waiting to hear if PLAN has decided to fund the camp or not this year.
I have also met the five new volunteers who transferred here from Guinea when their program recently closed due to civil unrest there. I can't imagine how hard it would be at this point in my service to pick up and leave your village/belongings/pets. Anyway, they all seem really nice. The new volunteers coming to my region is from Kalamazoo!
I will head back to post today, and hopefully stay there until the day before Thanksgiving. I have been traveling so much lately, and I am looking forward to a couple of weekends of doing nothing and lazing around Lobogo. The week of Thanksgiving I will take off for almost a week, during which I will have two Thanksgiving dinners and plan my February trip to Ghana! And speaking of trips, our Mali trip is coming up in less than 7 weeks! I am starting to itch for another vacation :) I hope you are all surviving the dropping temperatures. I am bitter because the volunteers in northern Benin are starting to gt Harmattan now, when they have to wear sweatshirts and socks to bed. Send some of the coldness my way- hot/dry season is just beginning :(


loehrke said...

LOVED the Halloween pictures!! Too funny!!
Sounds like Camp GLOW is going to be bigger and better than ever. Keep up the good work. Those camps are very important.
USE YOUR DAMN FAN AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO FOR GOD'S SAKES!!! It is so freaking hot DESERVE some air movement.
Send me a facebook message and let me know who from Kalamazoo is coming to Benin!! I would love to contact their family and meet them!!
Oh: good luck with the election!! Sure hope you get the position!!
Stay happy, Mark Loehrke (Carly's dad)

Judith A. Johnson said...

Do we know who the Kalamazoo volunteer is yet? That is such a small world thing. That must be very hard for them to come to a new program/country/home. I hope that they get enveloped into Benin and are happy there.
Keep up the good work- Judy (Carly's mom)