Friday, August 13, 2010

Rats, Mountains, and America


I am glad to announce that my bat problem resolved itself several months ago, but they, unfortunately, were replaced by rats. At first I thought it was just one, and I would see it only occasionally. But then, the week before I was leaving for the world cup, I watched like 6 of them march across my rafters. Since my house was a duplex, they were in my neighbors house too and they put down rat poison while I was gone. The moment I opened the door upon my arrival, it was apparent that the poison had been effective, since I was greeted with the overwhelming odor of dead rats, which was made even worse by the fact that I squished a dead one with the door when I entered. I searched the house, and was only able to find one other, and after they were disposed off, the smell seemed to be mostly gone, so I assumed I had found them all. I had to leave the next day though, for another week or two. When I returned from that short trip though, I found a third one in my basin of clean dishes that I had washed before leaving for South Africa. I discovered it when I took out my french press and noticed that it had the distinct odor of dead rat, and when I emptied the basin, I found the rat.

Enough about rats though. A week ago we hiked my mountain again, successfully reaching the peak this time. It was a smaller group who went, two other volunteers and a couple students and teachers. We climbed it from the side of the mountain that I live on, which takes less time, but is way steeper than climbing from the Katesh side. We reached the peak around 1, and my name will be forever emblazoned in pink paint on a rock at the top. The descent though, was way trickier. We somehow got on the wrong trail, and as a result, instead of zigzagging our way down the mountain, pretty much just slid strait down the side. We literally had to climb down vines or slide down long stretches of super loose dirt. We eventually made it though, thankfully just before it got dark. It was still a good day though, but my feet and legs were sore for a week.

And now, America. For those of you who haven't heard, I am now back in America. I decided to end my service early, and arrived home at like 10 last night. I loved the time I spent in Tanzania and will remember it forever, and I also made several friends that I know I'll be close with for life. So thank you all for reading and for putting up with long gaps between posts. I hope to see everyone soon. Kwa Herini!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup Update


Just wanted to give a quick update on the World Cup. It's fantastic here in SA, pretty much just like being back in america. I've been eating heaps of cheese and cereal and apples, things you may take for granted but some of the things I miss most from America. The games have been great too. We came here with tickets just to two US games but we managed to get tickets to 3 other games since weve been here, and theres one more on friday were still trying to get tickets for. Im about to head out the door to the US Algeria game, so sorry for the brief post but I thought Id give you a quick update. Cheers for now.

Go USA!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Again, sorry for the absence, PSDN, wine results, and World Cup!!


Hello all, sorry for the long absence again, time really does fly here and the last month has seemed especially hectic. So lets see...

Right now, I just finished this Peer Support and Diversity Network training
in Dar. Its bascially a group that volunteers can call or go to when they're struggling for any number of reasons and just want to talk. I was a little unsure about it before this training, but I feel pretty comfortable with it now. Im also the secretary which should keep me busy in addition to my teaching load.

Also, just before I went to that training, my wine was ready, and I filtered and bottled it (in plastic water bottles). It was pretty tasty and Im not being biased when I say it was one of the better volunteer-made wines I've tasted. Ive got a ton though and I drank a little but have been trying to give a bunch away.

Also, Im about to leave for South Africa and am super stoked. Watching the games last night just made me even more excited and I cant wait for the US England game tonight (just gotta find a spot to watch it). I thankfully though got a US jersey in the mail so I can support them with pride.

Thats all for now, Ill try to update during and after the world cup.

GO US!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sorry for my absense, HIV club, and homemade wind


Hello again. Sorry its been so long since my last post, but ill try to
bring you up to date. I think the last time i posted was from
training, which went quite well. The days were pretty long but covered
some useful stuff, gave me some ideas and motivation for teaching and
secondary projects. And at night we ate quite well. I had pizza twice,
chinese, cheese, and ice cream just abou every night. I did
unfortunately spend all my money, but it was well worth it.

One of the secondary projects we got ideas and materials for was HIV
education, and my counterpart seems really enthused about it. We
introduced the new HIV club with a demonstration about how HIV is
transmitted and the ABCs of prevention. My counterpart wanted me to do
most of the prep but once we began he took over and was great. The
students seemed to get a big kick out of it too, so hopefully we get a
decent turnout for the clubs first meeting monday.

One of the other things we learned about at training was making
homemade wine. So i just bought 5 kilos of sugar, some yeast, and when
i get home im gonna cook a kilo of rice, and in 3ish weeks should
hopefully have some tasty rice wine. Lunch is served so for now,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Earthquakes, midterms, and IST


I can say I succesfully survived my first earthquake without incident. Last wednesday or thrusday at like 3 in the morning i woke to the sound of my wine bottle candle holders falling over, and my initial reaction was "crap, someones in my house." I was still half asleep so it took me a moment to realize that actually the whole house was shaking. I got up when it stopped, and my neighbors were shouting at me to see if I was scared or OK. I assured them I was both, and then after surveying the mess, I promptly fell back asleep.In the morning I confronted the mess, which was lots of peices of bricks from the dividing wall of my duplex all over my floor and desk. Thankfully my candle holders were intact. Later my neighbors told me it lasted for over a minute so I must of slept through most of it because all that I just related occupied the span of maybe 5 or 10 seconds. Hopefully that will be the last, though it did provide a new topic for conversing with my neighbors for the next couple days.

After the earthquake, I finished grading the midterms that my kids had taken the week before and I was pretty bummed with the results. I gave form 1 physics an almost identical exam to the first one, since weve not made much progress, and a few people did really well, but the vast majority, even some of my better students, did pretty bad. Then form 1 math, the results were about as expected but none of the students who usually did well got higher than a 50, which Im kind of confused about. Some different students did well though which was a pleasant suprise. And then in form 3 physics. I think only 3 or 4 kids (out of 13) passed (which is only a 35 at my school). I was kinda bummed with these results too because I thought they had been doing better in class lately. So now im a bit worried how much all my students will remember when I get back from training because it will have been about a month since our last class.

But right now I'm at IST (in service training) and am having a good time so far. The first two days was just volunteers, and it was great just hearing their stories and being able to relate to their frustrations and getting some good ideas of how to tackle some of my problems. Our counterparts (teachers from our schools that we choose because we thought they would be good to work with on our secondary projects) arrived today, so the dynamic changed a bit and all of our sessions were done in a funny mix of english and kiswahili, but its cool to meet the other counterparts especially the counterparts of the people I hang out with the most. I had heard tons about their counterparts and its nice to finally meet them. We've been eating heaps as well and good food too, and I expect that trend to continue till the end of training. So far Ive had ice cream 3 nights in a row.

Thats all for now, I'll try to post again before I leave here next week, so until then, good day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New furniture, testing, and pumzika sana


Hello again. I just got some more new furniture so now my house is
even cosier (though the bats are still there). I got a little book
shelf and a taller kitchen table so i dont have to hunch while
chopping. With a little luck and some thought out arranging of things
i may finally be able to completely unpack. And the furniture was only
2 days late, which is kind of like being done early or at least on
time. He said he was all done and to come get it so me and some
students went to get it but the table was still just boards being cut,
but he still managed to deliver it on the back of his bike an hour
later. They laquered it in my house but at least i got it. Ill post
some photos of the new arangement soon.

I just want to say that as im typing this the teacher sitting next to
me is eating sugar with a spoon.

But anyway, we started midterm exams last week. Ive already graded the
physics exams, and form 1 improved a bit but form 3 regressed a bit.
They havent been cheating as much though, i think because ive been
writing the names of the cheaters down and theyre being punished (ie,
beaten). But i just found a new way they cheat this morning. They
usually write 2 copies of their exams, one rough and one to submit.
Then the students tear the name off the rough copy and give it to
another student who then says its their rough copy. Not a bad idea
except that the handwriting is drastically different.

Since exams started we arent teaching until after easter break. But
the day the school reopens, i start a 2 week training, so ill have
gone a month or more without teaching by the time i start again. So i
plan on heaps of relaxing (-pumzika - to relax). That training will be
super hectic i think, but at least its a break from the frustrations
of teaching. And hopefully ill return refreshed and full of new ideas
to use in the classroom.

For now, adieu.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Photos and Classroom Discipline


I uploaded some photos to a web album, but I mad it unlisted, so email me if you want the link because I have to share it with you.

And in the classroom. My classes, mainly form 1, are quite unruly, I think largely because I dont beat them like they expect. I know they expect it because when someone is misbehaving and I ask them to stop, they say to just hit them. And usually, its not just one, or even a few who are misbehaving, but like half the class. They just shout and are really obnoxiuos. All the streams of form 1 do this, but 1b is the worst.

In all of them, I threaten to leave if they dont settle down, but then like ten minutes later they are at it again. On tuesday 1b was particularly bad, and I probably should have left then, but instead I said that the first time i told them to quiet down tomorow I was leaving. So on wednesday, I got them to settle down when I got there, but literally as soon as I turned around to write something on the blackboard, they started shouting again. So I told them I had warned them enough and was leaving.

Then I think they tried to tell on me but that plan backfired. The Academic Mistress made them all kneel with their hands above their heads and then went around smacking them in the back. THen another teacher went around smacking their hands with a stick (the normal punishment) and then they were all made to apologize to me. It was quite the punishment, and I had mixed feelings because I think my punishment may have helped, but nevertheless, the next day, all my form 1 classes were impecabbly behaved, 1b in particular.

Thats all for now. Adios