24 October 2007

Dad & Jason coming end of November

Just a quick note here: Biff-Dad & Jason Bro are coming on November 26th (contact them if you want to send anything along with them -- hint hint, wink wink).

Things are going alright here, still bouncing up and down emotionally, but staying strong. Laters.

09 October 2007

Things are going well

So, I think I last left off saying that I was going through a few tough times (which have continued off & on), but that I was looking forward to having some work to do over the next term. I guess that's pretty much come true, I have been working quite a bit. Most of what I've been doing is riding my bike around to different schools with student teachers, watching them teach a lesson (~45 minutes) and then talking with them about the good and bad things I saw and wrote down on their supervision form. At first I didn't really want to do this because it seems so hypocritical. I've never been a primary school teacher, what do I know about teaching, and what gives me the right to criticize these teachers? So, the solution to this dilemma was to rationalize. 1) I've been through a lot of school and I could tell which teachers were good for me and which ones were not. 2) Many times what follows a supervision is not just a criticism, but a conversation about how the lesson went, and a bouncing back and forth of ideas for making the lesson better (not every time, but one every few). 3) Many times I am the first person to ever watch them teach and try to give them some pointers on what they are doing well and what new methods would be good to try. With these rationalizations in mind I can definitely say that supervision seems helpful in the long run. As I was riding along one day I realized that it is almost definitely not the best use of the skills I have (which is largely in solving mathematical problems and using computers), but it's not bad either. I think that may many times be what Peace Corps is about -- Adaptation. Not only trying to fit yourself into a new culture, but to do work that you never really would've considered doing before. To try to fit your square-pegged self into a circle-shaped hole and then come out of it with some rounded edges and the ability to fit better everywhere.

The plan is to just keep on doing as I'm doing. John, my counterpart, has been a bit absent due to family obligations in Mbale (weddings and funerals), but I'm hoping he will come back soon to help me (with 30 students and a goal of 8 supervisions each over the next two months, I know I can't do it alone - and furthermore I shouldn't have to). Also, CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting) is coming up next month, which to my understanding will just involve a lot of people coming from different countries that used to be under British rule to visit and talk in Uganda. This seems to be a pretty big deal over here and all the talk is about "Are you ready for CHOGM?" which has really become more of a joke as it seems they really aren't. You can often go into an empty restaurant, sit down and look at the menu, and find that they don't have anything on the menu except matooke and beans - if they aren't ready for normal customers, then how will they deal with an influx of hungry foreigners who want some services? I've been hearing through the Peace Corps grapevine that CHOGM will cause all of the schools to get out early, which would be silly, but would give me a huge hunk of time from the end November through January in which I won't have any official work. I'm actually a little afraid of that time, although Dad and Jason will be visiting (ROCK!), the rest of the time I'm going to have to find things to do to keep from going crazy.

Changing Gears: Here's some pictures from Sipi falls. I'm just on my way back from there, where most of the volunteers congregated for Goatstock, our Halloween celebration (and yes it does involve the killing and eating of goats. I got to see / participate in the slaughter of one of them, which was fairly interesting. I'll spare the details for all you vegetarians out there : ). Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of costumes, I didn't have my camera out, but I plan on stealing some tonight from Allie, to be posted next time:

A few of us on the cliffs near the top of the upper falls. From left to right: half of our guide, Christina (PEPFAR group of 2006), Marcus (2nd-year PCV), Becky (Crisis Corps Volunteer). P.S. Sorry that this picture is crooked, I just realized that the horizon isn't straight and don't have photoshop to fix it - ah well. Still a beautiful view.

Here's a view of the upper falls We climbed to the bottom first and got completely drenched in the powerful spray that explodes outward from the bottom like a perpetual hurricane. In other words, it's really awesome.

Just some trees on the top of a cliff overlooking the upper falls

That's it for now. As always, loves you all and hope to hear from you now and then.