Saturday, November 21, 2009

Obligatory "Typical Day" Post

While reading this, you should realize that it is essentially a vague list of what I might do on any given day. I’ve probably never had a day exactly like the one described below. I should also point out that this post was supposed to have a lot more pictures but the internet hates me today so you all just get the one at the end.

I typically crawl out of bed at about 5:30 am, cursing the existence of goats, chickens, and alarm clocks. From 5:30 to 6:30, I clean the house in some capacity or do laundry. It's amazing how quickly things gets dirty here so I have to do some sort of cleaning pretty much every day. After getting ready for work by about 7, I walk to the market and get corn porridge for breakfast.
Around 7:30 I get to school. Officially school starts at 7:45 am but the students come early to sweep the compound and clean the classrooms. In practice, assembly can be anytime from 7:30 to 8:30. My classes are generally in the mornings so most days I’m done with teaching by about 10:30 am. I spend the rest of the school day working on the next days lesson plans, helping some of the kids with their schoolwork, or just hanging out with them and the teachers. At some point I get a quick lunch from the school canteen and get back to school in time for the closing bell, which can be anytime from 2 to 3 pm, depending on how the headmaster and teachers are feeling that day.

After school, a few of the kids will sometimes come over, to fetch water for me, ask questions, or just say hello. Twice a week, I’ve started to meet with some of the students at the school for the HIV/AIDS club I mentioned in my last post. The English teacher, Sammy, also wants to work with me on a debate and drama club that we’re going to start sometime soon, probably in the next week or two. I finally got my bike in working order so I’ve been going on bike rides occasionally later in the afternoon after it stops being unbearably hot, or I’ll do a bit of yoga, or workout in some capacity. In the early evening, I head over to the market again to get things for making dinner. If I’m feeling lazy and don‘t feel like cooking, I go and get an egg sandwich at about 8:30 pm and talk to all the drunk folks milling about town. After dinner, I’ll watch something on my laptop (thanks for stocking up my hard drive JP!) or read for a bit and go to sleep at about 10:30.

Saturdays are spent either going to Cape Coast for internet access and getting things I need for my house or visiting my closest Peace Corps neighbors. On Sundays, I usually keep to myself and turn down invitations to go to any of the 10 churches in town while evading questions about why I don’t go to church every week. People here get quite persistent about this.
So that should give you some idea of how I spend my days here. I know it’s not terribly exciting but there you have it :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sports Shenanigans

This past week, some of the students and teachers traveled to a neighboring village to participate in a sports meet. This marked the culmination of the training that has lasted most of this first term. Hopefully this means that, come Monday, I may start to actually teach more than one or two classes a day.

Another exciting thing about the end of the sports meet is that the students are going to be free after school closes and I can start the “health club” that my counterpart Alex and I have been talking about. The idea of the club is to teach the students about health issues, starting with HIV/AIDS then moving on to other things and eventually train a selected group of them as peer and community educators. We’re going to start by getting all the junior high/secondary school as well as some of the older primary school kids to come to the first session and take it from there. More on this to come.

The meet itself was a chaotic good time. The first day consisted of the track and field events. My students did quite well, finishing in the top three in a lot of the events and second overall. The next two days were soccer, volleyball and netball. The boys volleyball finished second in volleyball and first in soccer. The girls were eliminated in the first round in volleyball and were supposed to play for first place in soccer but, because of an alleged ringer on our team, they were disqualified. My actual teacherly duties consisted of occasionally herding groups of students from one place to another. Most of my time was spent walking around and taking pictures.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Marching up and down the square!

There is a fenced off square area in front of my school. Sometimes, the students practice marching in the morning. They do this by marching up and down the square. This amuses me greatly:)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

.....And We're Back!

Things are marching forth in around here. In addition to driving Peter the spider out of my latrine and cleaning Bruce the bat‘s poop off my wall, I have now persuaded the village drunk not to follow me home everyday from the market. That may of course be because he’s just bored of me by now and would rather spend his time yelling at the kids playing ping-pong. Really the biggest disappointment so far has been a complete lack of mefloquine induced dreams. I was rather looking forward to those.

The house is pretty close to set up, just as soon as Kofi the Carpenter puts in my shelves, which he was supposed to do about a month ago. I spent a few days haggling and arguing with him, rather heatedly at times, and as a result we are now fast friends(seriously). It seems as if Ghanaians actually enjoy a good tiff, or at least Kofi the Carpenter does.

Classes officially started on the 15th of September. Day one was spent watching kids hack wildly at weeds with machetes, and day two was spent in a raucous worship session conducted by the teachers followed by more weeding. Thankfully, I was only asked to witness the supplications and not lead any of them or participate for that matter. This seems to be a trend by the way. The next Wednesday was just about exactly the same. I did get to do some teaching on day three finally. I’m teaching seven roughly hour long lessons a week for now, although my counterpart asked me to take over the form threes for math next term as well so that number might go up in a few months. During my first lessons with both classes I’m teaching, I gave my students a brief review of what they supposedly learnt last year. Turns out, they didn’t really learn much of it, so the first few weeks of term are going to be spent reviewing stuff. My form one class, to whom I’ll be teaching both math and science, is going to be a bit of a challenge. They don’t really understand English for one, and also it’s the classroom with no roof, so I’ll either be baking slowly under the sun or running frantically from the rain.. The form twos, to whom I’ll just be teaching math are a bit better at understanding me, so I’m pretty sure I can make at least some progress with them.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

One Month at Site: Short update and Panafest Photos

Life marches on here. Not much to report other than the photos that follow, so this one's going to be short(er). School starts on the 15th of September, sort of. The students usually spend the first few days of the term cleaning up and clearing brush from the school grounds so actual classes won't start till at least a week later. There's no way the roof is going to get fixed or rather built by then so I guess I'll have to deal with that somehow. Most of the teachers and my head are still out of town so I don't know my schedule for the coming term yet.

This weekend, there was a festival in Cape Coast, which I went to for a day with some friends. It celebrates the end of slavery and is held every two years. There were chiefs paraded in palanquins, guys walking around on stilts, people dressed in colorful costumes, and also a monkey. I took some pictures.

I'm also going to add onto my list of demands:) Other things that people can send me are small notebooks, small toys, crayon/colored pencil sets, and books that are roughly at a third grade level. Also tea and spices would be nice.

End communique

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Finally at site!

We had our swearing in ceremony on August 13, so we are now no longer lowly Peace Corps Trainees but are now lowly Peace Corps Volunteers. I got to site last week and my counterpart, headmaster and most of the teachers are out of town. Also, spiders, roughly the size of my face, live in my latrine. This is troublesome news. My house needs a lot of work. All I have is a rather rickety bed and I still don’t have any chairs or a desk, which were supposed to have been provided, but oh well.
Right now, things are pretty slow. I’ve been hanging out with some of my students who are attempting to teach me a mixture of Twi and Fanti, both of which are spoken in my village and only the former of which I actually know a bit. A couple of kids asked me to tutor them in math and physics so I’ve started doing that almost every day, provided I don’t have to go to Cape Coast to pick up stuff for the old homestead, or they’re not out farming.
I’ve also been spending at least a few hours a day outside the house interacting with the people, buying things at the market, and busting out my Twi, much to the amusement of everyone around. A good portion of people go out to farm during the day so the village gets pretty quiet, except at night, when there are boisterous church services into the wee small hours of the morning.
On an unrelated note, I’m going to start a garden so if anyone wants to send me stuff in the mail, basil, cilantro, spinach, jalapeƱo, and zucchini seeds would be greatly appreciated, as would any dried fruits, nuts, candy, or just about anything that can be made by just adding water. I’m also trying to get mobile internet at my site, which I think should be fast enough to use Skype on occasionally.
Anyway, you all should keep me updated on the goings-on out there and I’ll keep posting on here with at least some degree of regularity.


Thanks Mish, Carl, JP, Paul, Tiff, Tracy, JJ, Sherri, Brook, Warren, Christina, and Sean!

My host family

Swearing in!

Waiting in Line at Swearing in

More Students

A student a two of the teachers at my school

Barack Obama and John Mills

Air-Force 1

A goat

Boti Falls!