My adventures serving in the Peace Corps

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

4 days!

Thought I'd do a quick update before my couple weeks of craziness start! I'm down in Cotonou, doing all of the last-minute things for Camp GLOW.
As far as school goes, the kids took their final exams last week and I've graded half of them (all the quatrieme exams, that I wrote). For whatever reason, they really bombed it. I thought it was a very reasonable test, and had my colleagues look over it to confirm that. When I asked some of the students why the test was difficult for them, they said it was because I wrote "do NOT copy sentences from the text" for their answers in the short answer section. Normally, this is exactly what they'll do, and get all up in arms when I give them partial or no credit for it; apparently Beninese teachers find this way of answering acceptable. It was a bummer, especially getting that from my favorite class.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my sixieme students did much better... the test was all on verbs in simple present form, which we worked on for over a month but they STILL were having a difficult time with. I even decided not to progress in the curriculum and instead stayed on verbs for a long time since they are so important (and I have quatrieme students who STILL can't conjugate well). So we'll see! I did a really good review session with one class, but got rained out when I was supposed to do it with my other sixieme class. (Life 100% STOPS here when it's raining. People don't leave their house, mostly because they really can't- the roads turn to mush and it's hard to see when driving a zem into the rain.) When I arranged a makeup review session, we got rained out again! It wasn't a total waste of the afternoon, though: several students happened to be walking by when the rain got really hard, so we all huddled under the porch at the front of my concession. They stayed with me for almost three hours and we talked about EVERYTHING, from weather patterns in America to Hollywood. (One asked, "When they kill someone in an American movie... is it real? Do they really die?") It was one of those classic Peace Corps moments that I'll never forget.
Life in Lobogo is going well, but little things keep coming up that remind me why I'm excited tohead home in August. An especially devastating one happened this week: a FOUR YEAR OLD girl in my concession told us that she's been having sex with teenage boys from the neighborhood. When she was telling Angele and the other gathered around... they were laughing. A lot. Laughing with intermittent heavy beatings of the poor girl. I'm not even going to try to analyze why they reacted this way, because I can't even begin to understand it. They made her show them the positions she had sex in, and then made her pull down her underwear for them to see. It was one of the most upsetting experiences I've had here, made even worse by the fact that I really didn't understand what was going on and I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Really, really sad.
The biggest news: Camp GLOW starts in four days!!! I have been working really hard the past few days to do all of the last minute things: supply shopping, printing out certificates, getting soccer balls for all the girls, etc. I'm feeling pretty good about the camp, and I think I've done just about all that I can for now. I found out that not only the ambassador and his wife will be at the opening ceremony, but so will tons of ministers,(probably) the mayor of Porto Novo, and lots of people from the Peace Corps' office. The news might even show up! Keep posted for updates about the camp in early July! This wouldn't have been possible without all your donations, so thank you :)
Last night I was invited to dinner at my friends' house, the ones we stayed with during Kate's memorial that work at the embassy. It was so nice! Lots of wine, pizza, salad... so nice to have a nice dinner in a nice home with nice people :) While there, I heard a hilarious pick-up line that white women often get in Benin: "Let's make an Obama." Wow.
I'll head back to post today for a few days before the camp. My girls and tutrice are getting really excited! We are going to rent a whole taxi to take us straight there which will be nice. I only have a bit more time to spend with my kittens, so I'm gonna try to soak them up these next few days. They taught themselves how to use the litter box and run around the house like they own the place :)
Wish me luck for GLOW!


loehrke said...

Have a GREAT time at Camp Glow.
The story of the four year old girl was just so......awful, despicable, horrific. Tears came to my eyes. And stories like this are EXACTLY why Camp Glow is so VERY important.
Thanks for doing everything you do to help out these girls. You're a hero.
Stay strong, Mark Loehrke (Carly's dad)

Bebedores do Gondufo said...

Very Good.