Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ultimate Frisbee in West Africa: Burkina Faso

November 11

Thursday was a circus.
I wonder if the kids learned anything.
In my 9th grade class I handed out personal photos with captions trying to provide examples of indefinite and definite who clauses. Because the 10th grade teacher wasn't at school, the roar of 80 students looking at pictures didn't matter. Then we listened to Lean on Me on a cassette player provided by one of the students. It was a noisy 2 hour class.

Then after class we went outside. I wanted to show them a chemistry experiment on the combustion of a candle by setting a spoonful of gas from melted wax on fire, but the crowding and pushing of a ton of interested students was unproductive.

Then the school had student body elections where 400 kids voted for their representatives by standing in a line behind their choice. The longest line of students wins. It was a literal support, "We're behind you."

Then in my 8th grade English class we listened to a song from Beauty and the Beast. It was a competition to see how many English words they could catch and write down.

And during the 15 minute morning break we played frisbee. They are all very excited to play both boys and girls. Now I just need to find more frisbees. If you're interested, send me a frisbee or a volleyball. We have one of each, but with the tons of kids a few more would be helpful. I'm going to start a girl's volleyball team and introduce ultimate frisbee.

I am Tired

November 5

Monday I gave a 2 hour math test to my 120 students.

And for the past 2 days I've been living at school grading.

I teach for 4 hours and then in the evenings help other teachers by proctoring exams for them. They split their 110 student classes in two to help prevent cheating, but it means they need another teacher to help administer the test.

When I'm not in the classroom, I'm grading except for the 20 minute break I take to eat beans and rice and watermelon from the market ladies. I stay at school all day leaving as the sun is setting, the darkness telling me to stop. You can start again tomorrow.

Tonight though by candlelight I spent an hour preparing to teach my English class.

I'm learning how to be an English teacher by just getting in there and doing it. At the moment I'm doing a pretty bad job. The 90 kids hate it, their frustration audibly heard throughout the class which makes me hate it.

Why am I having a hard time?

1) It is my first time teaching English.
2) I don't have any experience with the teaching methods the kids are use to. My methods are new and probably confusing to them.
3) I don't really have a good idea of how much English they really know.

Their book which has absolutely no French in it, is basically full of texts and comprehension questions. It might just be way to advance for them which makes it hard coz then I'll need to write my own lesson plans with no guidance.

I am tired. Will Friday ever arrive?

November 4

There is a cloud of dust right behind my wall.
There is continuous drumming,
the accompaniment to endless dust-filled dancing.

Today the village is celebrating one of its own.
He left the village 15 years ago
right after primary school to enter seminary school.

He has recently become a Catholic priest.