Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy Six Month Anniversary, Bots 11!

So we’re rapidly approaching the 6-month mark of being in-country! Hard to believe I’m already almost a quarter of the way through, these first 6 months have gone by fast and yet I still feel like I‘ve barely even started to work.  We were pulled away from site again the past two weeks to attend a workshop put on by the Ministry of Education on Guidance and Counseling and Emotional Intelligence. As Life Skills volunteers  we are partially funded by the Ministry of Ed and so there is kind of a blurry line as to how much we are governed by the rules and regs etc. of the ministry. Anyway, we had to go to this workshop because of that which everyone was pretty unhappy about since they had basically told us that the only reason they were holding it was to make sure they spent the rest of their budget before the end of the fiscal year  so there wouldn’t be budget cuts. This translated to two weeks worth of, in my opinion, very pointless programming. The workshop started off on the wrong foot because of already existing tension between certain MoE employees and the PCVs and then just sort of went down hill from there. The second week which was on Emotional Intelligence (I thought they were going to teach us how to raise the emotional intelligence of our students, but it was really intended for us to raise our own emotional intelligence) was very basic and was reminiscent of psychology in the US back in the 50’s. Most things were talked about in very black and white terms—one personality trait or type better than another, one emotion better than another etc. It was very frustrating and I didn’t find it to be useful at all. Our counterparts from our schools were also with us and some seemed to learn something which is good, but I think all of our time would have been better spent actually doing our jobs in the schools. There’s no such thing as substitute teachers here so all the teachers that were pulled out for this left classes behind without a teacher. Anyway, it was nice of course to spend time with all of my friends and have luxuries like plumbing and A/C for two weeks. However, the back and forth between hotels and my village is a little hard because I always need a day or two at least to re-adjust. The first day back is a little lonely. It makes me a little worried about my trip back to the states in May because coming from America back to this little village is going to be super tough. It’s just a different universe back in America and I think there’s going to be some serious reverse culture shock when I go back. Anyway, I am glad to be back in my own house and looking forward to getting back into the swing of things (although the term ends in a few weeks so exams will interrupt the routine yet again..). I started a debate/English club at the school for standards 4-7 and there are about 50 kids in it so far. We had our first debate before I left on holding school on Saturdays and it went pretty well! We played a game afterwards called “where the wind blows”, any of you GW Alt. Breakers reading this will be familiar with the game, and they loved it! Everyone sits in a circle with one person in the middle so there is one less chair then the number of people and the person in the middle has to say a statement about themselves for example, I like the color green, and then anyone who also likes the color green has to get up and switch seats, whoever is left without a seat has to be in the middle and the game continues. It was a good way to get them to practice English and get a chance to run around a little bit. I think they had a really good time and it was nice to feel like I had actually done something (even though to the American standard it wasn’t much, the definition of success or productivity in the Peace Corps is greatly altered). The teacher who was helping me was supposed to have run the club in my absence but I’m not sure that happened. Anyway, it will be good to do it again this week. I already saw some of the kids from the village since I’ve been home and they were all really happy to see me and gave me big hugs which were nice. Coming down the 5k dirt road into my village in the back of a pickup truck yesterday definitely felt like I was coming home. Spent a good chunk of the day today with some of the girls that visit me a lot which was also fun and made me happy to be back. Anyway, hopefully it will be a good couple of weeks before school lets out for break and only one more month till our trip up to Maun when I'll get to see Matt (he's doing Peace Corps in Namibia)! Can't wait! :)