Friday, November 06, 2009

General Update

Wednesday I had listening class all day, a day without electricity. I had prepared a Halloween lesson plan; however, because of the lack of a computer, I was only able to do half of the lesson which was the vocabulary listening quiz, the history of Halloween, and the telling of a spooky story, "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs. The rest of the time we listened to each student's homework while writing down each question practicing listening to the different ways students pronounce words. Their homework was to ask 5 questions to their classmates, listen to the answers, write down what they heard and then present one question and answer to the class.

I was asked to knit two hats. I finished both of them. I have found the bookmark crochet pattern that I will be using to make Christmas gifts. It is a pretty fast project. Today I made 5 of them.

Chinese Corner
Chinese corner with 11 people was a loud affair exactly how Chinese banquets should be which really indicates something positive about the 6 foreigner's Chinese. It was an 8 course meal: a salty instead of spicy hot pot filled with vegetables, plus other dishes, eggs and tomatoes, chicken with green peppers, a spicy string mushroom salad, eggplant, green beans, fried tofu, ending with a fermented rice egg soup that was sweet with kind of an alcohol after taste. Twas a cheap $20 and I should probably take pictures next time.

Chinese Class
FYI if you ever want to learn Chinese by yourself, Chinesepod is an excellent site plus they give PC volunteers a discount. Today I learned my first Chinese idiom: "Be there or be square." I am not really into learning idioms, slang, or bad words, but today while searching on for lessons, I found a 4 minute lesson on an idiom. I also found this guy from Africa teaching Chinese with like over 50 lessons. It is kind of strange watching an African guy teach you Chinese.

5th Year in PC
Currently I am in my fourth year with Peace Corps. Next summer will be the start of my 5th year. Shall I stay for that extra year? Peace Corps will pay for a month home leave. I feel that because I was evacuated out of Guinea and placed into a new country, I didn't really become a part of any local community in Africa. It really does take time to adjust to a new village and for that village to accept you. However, in China because I have been here for two years, I am connecting with people, making friends, learning the language and developing ideas for secondary projects. Plus I have a strong desire to see some of my students graduate. I would need a third year to continue down this path.

I cooked a peanut butter stew the other night which included beef bones, mushrooms, bok choy, garlic, ginger, and potatoes. I left it out for over 24 hours believing that my apartment was as cold as a refrigerator; however, I was sadly mistaken and spent a night waking up every hour with stomach pain and a trips to the toilet. I think mushrooms are a tricky food for one's stomach, even my stomach which after 4 years overseas is not delicate at all.

My mood these days feels strong emotions brewing deep in my chest. I have a strong desire for isolation, solitude, and lonerville. I don't know why. I am happy when I leave the flat and interact with students and friends. I am happy when I participate in clubs, class, and dinners. I feel fine; however, I also feel a sense of freezing cold. Maybe as I sit in my 3 season sleeping bag, a hat on my head, a scarf around my neck, with three top layers, and three bottom layers including 3 articles of knitted clothing, the freezing cold is influencing my mood and piercing into the depth of my soul forcing me to face the dark personal issues that I have been hiding and avoiding so well.

Winter has arrived.


Anna said...

The economy is crap right now, making finding a job and getting into school difficult. So what I'm say is... stay! Why not, if you like it and are doing well go for it. Maybe one of these day's I'll scrape the money together and visit you.

PS- The folks in Mane certainly did like you (an me too!) but I know what you mean. It's the second year where you hit your stride.

Dr. Jen said...

Yeah I know, I really did love Mane and they did like me. It was such a different experience than Guinea though.

In Guinea I lived in a host families compound in a much much smaller community. I was teaching my 8 younger host brothers and sisters how to add and subtract using rocks as well as having coloring competitions on my front porch. They were teaching me how to dance. In Guinea I went to funerals, weddings, ceremonies, and helped move rocks from the countryside to the mosque. In fields surrounded by morning mist, I got invited to 6 am breaking of fast after Ramadan. I'd visit students' families and villages by walking an hour each way.

In Mane, there was a small disconnect from the community. It was sort of like moving from the countryside of Guinea to the big city of Burkina Faso, from a host family into my own independent compound. I will say the education system in Burkina Faso works better. Teaching was easier! So that was nice.

I should have stayed the third year in Africa except of course for the mosquitoes.