Life as a PCV is a constant cycles of ups and downs, and sometimes within the same day. Or hour. Maybe even minute. 🙂 Even though it is a crazy roller coaster ride of experiences and emotions, I still love it.
Last week, I had one of the crappiest days at school ever. I was at my bad school, and it was a crapstorm of one thing after the other. I found out a learner had stolen some of my reward stickers, a teacher was sitting at my desk when I came in and wouldn’t go until she had finished her coffee, one of the teachers had taken my box that I store classwork books in, Grade 5 was terribly unruly, the HOD tracked me around the school and tried to get me to type something up for her, then admitted she could do it herself but was only asking because I was there to do it for her, Grade 6 was noisy and threw chalk and papers at me in class, the kids asked me to beat them when they misbehave, and the principal blamed the Grade 6 behaviour problems on them being “just kids” and didn’t see the problem.
I’ve been having problems at that school for awhile, so these minor problems (ok, Grade 6 was a major problem) were all working against me that day, and I came extremely close to walking out of the school and not coming back. I went home, fuming, hurt, and utterly frustrated, and tried to figure out what to do with Grade 6.
The next day ended up being a great day. Though it was only Thursday, it was the last day of school for the week for a school holiday. I worked with some of the garden volunteers and made some things pretty in the garden, took pictures to document the changes, and worked on our gardening competition application. It felt great to be involved in something that some of the locals care about. Other people were taking initiative, besides myself, which can be rare and extremely encouraging in the PC world.
After that, we had a 5 day vacation, which was a nice break after a crazy week. I went to town over the weekend, and met with several volunteers which was nice. Then I had one PCV, Oratile, come home with me and stay for a visit, which was lots of fun. We talked and talked and talked, and made some delicious dinner, and she fell in love with my super-friendly host family. She only stayed for one night, but one of the teachers at her school lives in my village, so she’ll come visit again when he goes home to visit his family. I actually have one of his kids in my Grade 6 class that was causing such problems.
Speaking of Grade 6, after the 5 day weekend, my first day back was at my bad school again. I had decided to have a discussion with Grade 6 on respect, and have them do a dictionary assignment relating to respect and responsibility. KPS, the school, has a class set of dictionaries, which is awesome and therefore never used. I had Mma Masisi come into the class with me to help explain and translate during the discussion and activity. After collecting homework and giving them a spelling test, I asked the class what the problem was last week. After getting that translated, 2 learners piped right up with “Ma’am, we were throwing things at you” and “Ma’am, we were making noisy when you were trying to teach.” That encouraged me because they knew something was wrong. Then I talked about respect and why it is important to be respectful at school. After that, I handed out the dictionaries and put the kids in groups, and after clarifying several times what I wanted them to do, I set them to work. It ended up taking way longer than it should have, so I will continue the lesson next week. For homework, I am making them write a 1 page essay on why respect is important. We’ll see how many of them did it…but they seemed to be getting the message. Overall, things went better at the bad school that day, though things are still always a struggle there. I wish I could stop going to that school, but I feel too guilty even thinking about doing that. 😦
The rest of the week went well, as I was working in the garden again and seeing things change for the better at my good school. On Friday there was even some spinach ready to harvest, and Mma Ntwayabokone picked me a HUGE bagful, along with some green peppers. I ended up giving half of the spinach (swiss chard, really) to my host family. It doesn’t stay fresh long, and I couldn’t eat all that. So Friday night I made stirfry with spinach, onion, tomato, fresh garlic, mushroom, green pepper, and some sage and tarragon from the school garden. It was beyond delicious!!
Now it’s the weekend, and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks. I may end up teaching Grade 5 or 6 Natural Science at my good school, at least part time, because a teacher was transferred, and we likely won’t get a replacement until January. That leaves 5 teachers (including the principal, who can only take about 2 classes because of her other duties) to cover 27 classes, which stresses them out a lot. So I’ll step in and help as much as I can, though the learners do not understand me well enough for me to take on a class completely on my own.
Each day is always a new experience.