Wednesday, December 24, 2008

NOthing like a military coup to put you in the Christmas spirit!

Wow it has been a long time since i have updated this. Its difficult because i do not have internet access in my site (or electricity for that matter) and I am only in Labe maybe once a month with limited internet access.

Anyways right now I am in Conakry for the Christmas and New Years celebrations. As many of you might know by now Lasana Conte (president of Guinea) passed away Monday night. Right now the military has taken over the government. Things are relatevely peaceful here and I honestly do not feel that my safety is being threatened in anyway. A lot of stores are closed and I guess now the military has imposed a curfew of 7PM. I mean it doesnt affect us volunteers because we are on standfast which means that we are not allowed to leave the peace corps compound in Conakry at all. Some volunteers are stuck in their sites for christmas. So it is a bit sad, but we are all safe which is all that matters. Oh and I just found out that the military apparently announced a new president and apparently the people of Guinea are happy with the it could be that this all ends peacefully.

It really doesnt feel like Christmas eve. I think its the heat though well and the fact that Its my first Christmas away from home. At this time back home I would be helping mom cook in the kitchen. Either way though we decorated the peace corps house for christmas and have been singing Christmas carols and such.

Site has been really good. I love my site actually. I mean not only is it in a naturally beautiful location, but also the people are great. I have a host family taht lives about 50 feet behind me. Well its the principal and his four wives and about a million kids. I eat with them on most evenings. I have grown somewhat close to the four wives. The second wife is called Madame BInta and she is a primary school teacher. During my first two weeks at site she helped me a lot with learning pular and finding my way around the market. The children come to my house often to play or just say hello. It's nice. I know I can turn to them with just about any issue I may be having and they will take care of it. For example the one evening there was a huge bug in my room that I was scared to kill. I dont know what it was. This huge black bugs with giant i went to my host families house and told my host mother. She got out of bed and went to my house to kill the bug...I was embarassed when she told me the bug was absolutely harmless, but at least i could sleep in peace knowing that I didnt have thisfrightening bug next to my bed.

Teaching has been the hardest part of being at site. I am teaching Chemistry 7th to 10th grade. I am also teaching physics to 7th grade since my school does not have a physics teacher. In addition I will be teaching some english classes to primary school students...just some basic salutations because there is an American organization that donates money to the primary school here and I guess they are coming to visit my site and the director of the primary school wants the students to be able to great them in English. So i agreed to teach a couple classes to them. I am also teaching basic english to Centro NAFA which is this small school also established by the organization. It is for students who do not start school before the age of 10 because their parents cant afford it. So they stay in this school for 3 years and then they graduate and enter primary school at the 5th or 6th grade level before going to middle school. The kids are really cure. Last wednesday they all came to class with oranges and maniocs and formed this huge pile in front o the class and told me it was for me.

The hard part of teaching i think is partially the discipling...but also just the lack of motivation of the students. There are so many of them and its just hard to get them to care about any of the stuff i teach them, Also theya re not used to thinking logically...they are used to memorizing things but not coming up with their own answers. So its difficult to get them to think for themselves . If I ask a question in class they will respond word for word what i gave them in their notes...there is no understanding of the material though. Also the students are always late...I usually dont erally get started with class until 8:30....teachers are also late. They are supposed to be there by 7:40 but most dont get there until closer to 8, but actually my school is one of the better cases. The lack of resources is also frustrating because you want to show them cool demonstrations but its hard to find chemicals. Also its difficult to keep the kids from cheating. I gave out a total of 40 zeros to by 7th and 8th grade classes for cheating during a test...I was so angry with them. I had them write over and over that they would not cheat...the second test i gave to my seventh grade there were only 2 zeros i gave maybe things are improving.

I am starting to feel comfortable at site...I will now wear pants around my site without feeling slf conscious about it. I actually asked my host mom if it was okay before i did it just because i didnt want to be disrespectful. She said no one would care. I get funny looks from kids sometimes, but no one gives me a hard time about wearing pants. They just think I am a bit weird.

Okay well I am going to go and see what is going on for christmas dinner. Oh yeah It is almost my 6th month anniversary in Guinea....crazy! I can still remember my first few days in philly for orientation. We now have a new group of volunteers that arrived early this month. I cant believe we arent then new guys anymore. Time is flying by.

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