Sunday, March 18, 2012

the march trip to freetown (5 of 5)

>> a happier post, i promise, in that we're beginning to see the end of the race here. the discussions amongst us volunteers is beginning to be our plans afterward, beginning to be questions about whats next, about the stresses awaiting us, and our plans for our COS (close of service) trip. the plan for myself, for those that care, is to leave gbendembu on july 23rd, go through the final clearances and paperwork in freetown, officially COS on july 27th, and then depart on july 29th from freetown to paris for two weeks in france before returning home to america on august 12th. there's a sizeable party planned for august 17th, but ill give you more details about that later. the important thing i want to convey is that while weve had student deaths, fights, problems, heartaches, sorrow, depression, and even diarrhea, that now, with only about 137 days left, we're beginning to feel a lightness, that we can do this, that we're *so* close that now it's a piece of cake. we'll see if the feeling lasts, but for the past few weeks myself and at least three other volunteers have all expressed similar feelings, that our time is drawing to a close. i love and miss you all :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

the march trip to freetown (4 of 5)

>> so last year my school had a sport competition. for those playing the home game, this means that the school is broken up into four houses and they compete against each other basically in an overblown track & field event competition. last year, this meant a complete shutdown of my school for almost two months and, at the climax, one of my students (a girl) being punched in the face by another student (a boy) because she dropped the baton during one of the relays. at that, i yelled / scolded / screamed at the man directly in charge of my 'house' and went home and swore it off, "I'm never participating in a sport again." this year, we said that since last year's sport got out of hand, that we would not have one this year. we changed our minds. i was put on green house. i demanded to be taken off, and was removed from it and put on the committee which i summarily ignored. i was then harassed by my students for my non-attendance and non-support. i used excuses like 'im really busy' or 'i have to input all these grades' but the truth is that i refuse to be part of something that in itself is a PERFECT example of all that is wrong with education here. putting a sporting competition before student education is just plain WRONG. in my opinion. (i have not taught in two weeks, the students were dismissed). I love and miss you all :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

the march trip to freetown (3 of 5)

>> a word on my students, who have grown more and more insolent as time has gone by. i remain baffled as to the mindset of these students, who are not only rude but blatantly insubordinate to myself and the other teachers. examples: (a) i am in the computer room inputting grades and a student walks up and reminds me (with a certain amount of malice) that i have their class. i inform the student that they are incorrect, that i am capable of reading a time table. they insist (with more malice) that i am wrong. i walk to the timetable and prove them wrong. now, understandable, but WHY SO MUCH ATTITUDE. (b) a student mocked my voice, which i do not stand for, and then proceeded to run away from me, and by run i mean RUN, he was chased all the way out of the school and past the football field to the swamp. Why not just take the punishment (that you deserve) and then move on with life? By running, you make it so much worse. (c) my school has decided to have a sport competition after all and when asked if i am participating, i informed them i was not. (because sport is a terrible idea, but that's in a different blog post) i was then informed that i dont like the students, that i am not a good teacher, that i should be at the sport, that i am not supporting them and that im generally wrong. this was laughed off by me, since the irony is just incredible, but the question remains: Why am I getting so much attitude from my students? ESPECIALLY the students who have to take the WASSCE exam in a few short weeks? I am baffled. Absolutely baffled. I love and miss you all :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the march trip to freetown (2 of 5)

>> yes, it's a post about animals. this is when you roll your eyes and go back to facebook. ill continue. (a) each time i visit my staff quarters as it is constructed, there are goats. the first day, there was one goat. the second time, two goats. sleeping in my unfinished bedrooms and pooping everywhere. im worried to look when i get back to the village. there will likely be a small goat colony there, deciding on its leadership and flag design, asking for recognition from the UN (b) in relation to this, my dogs have become bullies. when we walk to school, they chase any goat they see and it runs away screaming (as a goat screams) until it comes to another goat and then they have strength in numbers and my dogs come back to me, grinning happily. eventually, this will get me into trouble. but, until the goats LEAVE MY HOUSE ALONE im okay with it (c) in relation to my dogs, there are a lot of them now! i don't know why, but we've added Beretta to the fold at my neighbor's house, but he's been there and i hadn't really interacted with him. also, TwoFace, a small white puppy, and BelieveGod at the school campus that at first hated me but now rolls over on his back like a pushover. i am completely okay with being the volunteer that liked dogs. (d) finally, because it's africa, i have to let you know that TwoFace ate a chicken next door. the owner pleaded for him and he wasn't killed. he then ate a chicken at a different neighbor's house and was slaughtered like he didn't matter. i love and miss you all :(

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

the march trip to freetown (1 of 5)

>> this post is about the completion of my project! for some reason, blogspot isn't letting me choose my own font or format this. whatever. so, for those paying attention, i started the chairs and desks project in january 2011 after our IST (in-service training) and it took a long time. there were problems with arranging the metalworker to come to gbendembu, there were problems with the pricing and paying for workmanship, there were problems with receipts and then getting those receipts back to freetown from the village. but, with the first half completed, the embassy staff was pleased, and the work continued. i took that trip home in july 2011 and work sort of stopped altogether. upon my return, i stoked the fires, and work continued until the welding machine broke and then my metalworker came down with malaria, which meant the metal chairs weren't done. on the side of the wooden desks, they were done relatively quickly. finally, the machine was fixed and the metalworker was healthy and work continued, only to be stuck again when we had no paint to label the chairs and desks. an exercise in patience, yes. finally, finally, finally, everything was finished and the embassy came to gbendembu. i should write that again, clarifying and emphasizing. the AMBASSADOR to SIERRA LEONE, MICHAEL OWEN, came to GBENDEMBU! It was an incredible day that went without any problems and the embassy staff was truly impressed with people's generosity and honesty and, perhaps most important, that the chairs and desks were finished and beautiful. the Ambassador gave a short optimistic speech (that was truly uplifting to hear) as well as my principal and the Paramount Chief, then a short tour of the campus, finally coming to the staff quarters i'm constructing. it was an amazing day, a memorable one, and perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime event for the village. the project is finished. i love and miss you all :)