Sunday, July 18, 2010

End of Summer School / Site Introduction

>> The second week of summer school did not go as well as the first for me. My students were far more inconsiderate and they received a far more difficult test from me as a result. I still remain positive about teaching- this simply gives me perspective that school is not always going to be rewarding and hopeful and that there will be bad days, or weeks..
We also learned our sites. Let me elaborate. The first ten weeks are training, where I'm with a host family and trying to learn the popular language (Krio) while learning customs and culture and preparing for being on my own. This is where I am now. It's been relatively easy because my family insists on doing most of the work for me. These next four weeks are going to be insisting on learning how to do chores and tasks so that I can do it on my own at site. After the ten weeks, we move to our site. Each of the 38 (we were 39, I miss you Mylinda) of us has a different site although in some villages there are two volunteers. My village is in the north of Sierra Leone and I'll have to learn the Loko language. Here in Bo I speak Mende and Krio and English, so Loko will be starting over. I can't wait. My next blog post will be at length about my site because I will know much more about it by then. We have a site visit in which I'll be spending three nights there, so I'll definitely be able to tell you much more about it!
I love and miss you all :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

They call this the Honeymoon

>> So, let me explain my post title. I'm happy :) We just completed our first week of teaching summer school and not only did I (admittedly) do very well, but after grading my tests, I have a very respectable curve of children that understood and those (that sat in the back) that did not, aka, I'M A GOOD TEACHER! I was so worried after the Micro Teach (see previous blog post) that Summer School was going to be a disaster, but the experience has been really rewarding already. The students call me "Mr. Meeker" with respect in their voices. My colleague Erin's lecture was greeted with talking and jeering throughout her lecture so when it was my turn I scolded the children. You could hear a pin drop. When I finished my lecture forty minutes later, the children stood and clapped for me. Perhaps a little much, but it was encouraging to have the students respect me. Most of the trainees have settled in pretty nicely, i.e. we're past most of the initial bumps and are sailing until site. I'm concerned about my site, actually, because only 28 of the 39 sites are ready for us and also the general lack of information thus far disclosed about them. We go on our site visit in a week or two and it's apparently usually a big let-down for trainees because: (1) They get to the smooth-sailing part, get comfortable and then (2) encounter a site that doesn't meet their expectations and (3) begin to worry about it, etc. WE SHALL SEE. My family continues to be wonderful as does my love for the people here- there is ALWAYS music playing and it is ALWAYS in regards to a celebration. For example, at a party I attended for a child's first birthday, where in America you might have some music quietly in the background, Sierra Leone means that the music is LOUD and it is BANGING, aka not appropriate for anyone under 17. (I hope you get my meaning as to the vulgarity of the music) but my point is, MUSIC is HUGE here and I LOVE it. I continue to want your letters and e-mails and messages; they keep me sane and make me smile :) I love and miss you all.