Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving was an event that I really needed! we planned to hold it
in lunsar, a village about 45 minutes away from makeni moving toward
freetown. i arrived first after having retrieved a moneygram transfer
(for the staff quarters construction). i found joey and mike, our
hosts, and their fabulous residence, much nicer than my own, their
cooler full of cold drinks.. let me repeat that.. COLD drinks.. other
volunteers began to arrive, and we migrated over to joey's school (two
floors high, layered in tile and lights, a modern kitchen, obedient
and motivated students (students have to pass entrance exams to
attend her school) and began to make cupcakes. we finished this task
awhile later, myself still in awe of the school, and we moved back to
her house, relaxing before heading out. although late in the season, a
huge storm was soon upon us, forcing us to take shelter under an
overhang. the rain eventually subsided and we moved to a small
restaurant where i had a beef schwarma (the restaurant only had 8
hamburgers ready and ran out of beer and potatoes while we were
there). we wandered over to a nighclub afterwards at which the DJ was
perhaps the worst i've ever heard. we did not stay long, moving back to
the school campus where we had rooms at the school's guest house.

the next morning broke hot and early, and after organizing
ourselves, we moved over to the kitchen again, myself taking a detour
to gather debbie, the timap volunteer i had befriended in my village
over the previous months. our task? sweet potato casserole. the other
volunteers had their own dishes and, hours later (and plenty of music
from different laptops later), our dishes were complete. we moved back
to the guest house where candles lit a table that would rival any in
america. there was sweet potato casserole, sangria, stuffing, corn,
baked chicken, a sort of split pea soup, and cupcakes for dessert. it
was amazing. i made a playlist of music, which gave us the great
moment of 'carry on my wayward son' playing behind us. we enjoyed the
evening, watching 'the devil wears prada' before sleeping, cleaning up
in the morning, and heading home. my first thanksgiving left something
to be desired, and my second and last thanksgiving in sierra leone
more than made up for that. thank you again, joey and mike, and
everyone else who made the event special. i love and miss you all :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December news

Sorry about that. i haven't been to freetown in a long time, and there's a bit to catch up on! school has been going well; i had some difficulties with my SS2 students being rude, but I straightened them out (with the help of some of my SS3 students who told them basically, "stop being rude. listen to mr. meeker." there was more to it than that, but that's the gist. My students did very well on their first term final exam although i worry that their knowledge is only memorization and not comprehension (although that seems to be an international problem in my opinion). work has started and finished at 1 of the 4 schools receiving the small grants, the other three are dragging their feet and will require some gentle pushing from me. the chairs and desks project (funded by USAID and the U.S. Embassy) is nearing completion which will entail a large ceremony at the school and possibly Embassy personnell (personell? personnel? ugh.) coming all the way to Gbendembu to attend! The Ambassador has said that he would love to visit, but it's.. it's real far from Freetown. We'll see. In either case, I'm really excited that the project is nearing completion. Finally, the staff quarters project has started! As of this writing, the foundation has been laid and the hole for the latrine has been dug. We are now waiting on supplies and for more dedicated manpower (since people want money as they go and not at the end of the work, which is hard to convince people to work for a week with nothing and then getting it at the end..) Socially, we had Thanksgiving in Lunsary (a separate post for that), and besides that, I've been especially hermit-like, teaching, reading, writing, drinking my palm wine, and mingling as much as I can. I've found that at school I have much more authority this year, as in, a teacher was letting his students be quite loud. I came in, told him it was unacceptable and that if I had to come back, there would be trouble. The class was silent afterward. (Treated.) Rambling. Okay. I'll write the Thanksgiving post now. I love and miss you all! :)