Sunday, January 4, 2009

New house, Another school

21 November 2008

Well I moved at the beginning of November as planned, and Stacy left last Thursday. The case is a bit more comfortable with my furniture here, but a whole lot less fun without Stacy.

The new stage is currently in training in the north province. My stage was for the education and small business development programs, while this stage is for agro-forestry and health volunteers. They are being trained in the north, because all of the agros will be posted throughout the north and extreme north. I met the four newbies, all health, who will be coming to the Adamaoua. They passed through on site visit: Anna, Allison, and a married couple, Jessie and Brian. They all seemed chill and like great additions to our little provincial family.

Let me introduce you to our provincial family, which includes people from my stage: Gloria, Lindsey, Lee, Sebastian, Allen and I (educations) and Michelle (small enterprise). Our volunteers from the last health/agro stage just celebrated their first year in country: Sam, Bobby, Elena, Brandi (agros), and Ali (health). We’re about to lose four health volunteers, freeing their posts for the new kids I already mentioned: Kelly, Casey, Alana, and Nadia. Finishing your two year commitment to peace corps is called c.o.s-ing, short for "close of service."

Between volunteers traveling through to help with stage, others headed north on vacation, the steady trickle of c.o.s-ers, and my province-mates coming into the big city for banking/shopping/internet, my house has been very busy. This evening is the first night I’ve had it to myself. Next week being thanksgiving, it will be full again soon enough, but most likely it will just be Adamaoua people. I enjoy having my province- and stage-mates visit more than other random volunteers for two reasons. First, they are my friends. Second, they treat my house as if it's my house, while others tend treat it like a transit house. I don't mind that attitude in their bedrooms, but it's unpleasant in the kitchen. No one is inconsiderate on purpose, but I’m still adjusting to life as a bed and breakfast manager. One problem the plumber already fixed—the communal toilet was clogged, so everyone was helping themselves to my bathroom. Not that I begrudge them the need of a toilet, but I’m very glad to have some personal space back.

Dance class is growing on me. At first it wasn't very much fun, as I was uncomfortable and didn't know any dances. Now I’ve learned a bit, and I feel like the people are becoming my friends. It’s still hard to motivate myself to go to dance class, but once I get there I really enjoy it. We are preparing for our end of the year party/recital on December sixth. I also found out there's a dance club at the lycée, which I plan to check out. I’d like to meet the teacher who organizes it, since I still have no friends among my colleagues.

I am coordinator of the computer club au lycée, which has started slowly. I did not plan to have a club d'informatique, but students who were members last year approached me about it. I haven't been very enthusiastic about it, nor have I planned anything for them. But they have stepped up to the plate, and made a list of objectifs for the year. I was impressed with their list, and am starting to look forward to working with them.

I’ve started teaching an hour of informatique at another school on Wednesday. The girls at the centre de socio menager are around the ages of my lycée students, but their classes are on how to manage a home. Basically their core curriculum is home ec, as far as I can tell. I've taught two Wednesdays so far. Next Wednesday, I will start teaching them an hour-long English class after my info class. The good things at the centre are the drawbacks to working at the lycée, and vice versa. For instance, at the centre this past Wednesday, I helped six girls make calculations in excel (on the centre's two working computers). At the centre, my class size is manageable, and I can work on practical lessons. The opposite is true au lycée: huge classes, where we only talk about computer theory. However, the lycée students are smarter, in the sense of a formal education. There's a reason these girls are at home ec school—they either didn't do well at a "real" lycée, and/or their families place no value on the kind of female education that leads to university. The English class will be beginner conversations. I’ve had many children tell me "good morning, sir" at three o'clock in the afternoon. This will be my first lesson: "good afternoon, ma'am."

Speaking of female education, Michelle and I have officially taken over a scholarship project Stacy had been in charge of. The Adamaoua girl's scholarship project started at least a year ago. This year seventeen girls (selected by volunteers throughout the province) had their school tuition and national exam fees paid. They even got textbooks through the scholarship—a real rarity here. The volunteers held a seminar in September for the recipients, and there will be another seminar in December. Unfortunately, Michelle and I will not be here for the second conference, but we get to plan it with Ali's help.

We won't be in Ngaoundéré that week because we will be in Kribi—the beach resort in the south province. We have in-service-training there, but it's also an expense paid trip to the beach. It’s weird to think that at in-service-training, I’ll have already finished one of my four semesters. I do not feel at all experienced or comfortable teaching yet.

I’ve been neglecting biking lately, but I’ve climbed Mount Ngaoundéré twice: last Sunday and the Sunday before that. Not quite a mountain, it only takes around 45 minutes to climb, but it offers a great view of the city and the surrounding countryside.

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