The following content is comprised of personal opinions, and in no way reflects the opinions of the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting Better and Model School

it has been quite some time since I've updated you all about the
goings-on here in Rwanda. Since my last post, a lot has happened. As I
mentioned before, I had been sick last Tuesday and the Good Doctors had
put me on Cipro, a broad-spectrum antibiotic that should have righted my
wrongs. However, when the Cipro had not made a dent in my symptoms by
mid afternoon, the Doctors decided on a new approach: Coartem. Coartem
is an anti-Malaria agent designed for when the weekly prophylaxis
(prevention) medicine fails. Now, the Doctors don't feel (i think) that
I have Malaria, but they would rather have me on the medicine that find
out next week that I DO have Malaria.

Unfortunalty, Coartem is rather strong. My original symptoms had
diminished and disappeared by midday on Wednesday, but the medicine kept
me weak and out of class until early Thursday. Speaking of, Thursday was
Thanksgiving (as you know). Since Thanksgiving is almost strictly an
American holiday, they do not celebrate it in Rwanda. They also do not
have conventional ovens. Do you see the problem here? It is for this
reason that one could find a 7 foot by 4 foot hole dug 3 feet into the
ground filled with ashes, wood, and 10 turkeys wrapped in tinfoil and
banana leaves. Yeah, true story. Better yet, it actually worked. If you
want proof, I uploaded some pictures to Picasa. Thursday night we had a
massive Thanksgiving dinner, fully set with the turkey, mashed potatoes,
gravy, apple crisp, and stuffing. If we had had Pumpkin Pie (apparently
pumpkins are only available at the Nyanza market on Thursdays from a
woman who was nowhere to be found on Thursday at the Nyanza Market), it
would have been the best Thanksgiving ever.

On Monday we started Model School, where we have started actually
teaching classes. This week, I am teaching an S2 (8th grade) math class
for 50 minutes once per day. My class has about 40-45 students, most of
which are between the ages of 12 and 16. Getting up in front of the
Rwandan students is not really the part that makes me nervous; for the
most part the students are well-behaved and smart although there is a
significant language barrier. The main thing that makes me nervous is
the fact that every day I have 5 other trainees and our Tech Trainer
sitting in the back taking copious notes on my performance.

Most of the time I spend with my class is spent with me at the
blackboard writing notes and definitions. For instance, that last three
days have been about Integers, Natural Numbers, Rational Numbers, and
types of decimals. Our Tech Trainers keep telling us to find ways to
'spice up' that class and spend less time lecturing. For me, that means
I simply do a ton more exercises and conduct the class from the back or
sides of the room instead of from the board. Its a little hard to teach
math through singing like the Trainees who are teaching English have
been doing...

We have model school for three full weeks, although my group has more
student so I will not be teaching next week, but then the third week I
will teach an S1 (7th grade) class. Model school is done in an attempt
to prepare us for the 'real world' of site placement. For the most part,
it is a very good idea and tends to work rather well. However, Model
School is conducted outside of the normal school year, so none of the
students are actually required to be there, nor are they being graded in
any way for their effort. This seems to have the effect of a relative
decrease in the participation and level of caring among the students. It
is also very difficult to tell weather the students don't understand me
because of my techniques in teaching the material or because of the
language barrier. Its difficult to be hard on students whom you are
convinced cannot understand you.

For now, I need to return to preparing a lesson plan for tomorrows
lesson; converting decimals to fractions. Should be a load of fun!

-Don't Forget To Be Awesome

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