I was welcomed home with this chalk drawing on my door. I'm going to take a wild guess (sarcasm) and say it's a drawing of me...doing karate. Oh, the joy of living right across from the Primary School! I still love the kids though. Haha!
I guess getting back into the flow of things is probably the hardest part. And now that I've finished my first three months at site, I keep asking myself, like anyone else in my GEE training group, what next?
During our IST, we were asked to make an Action Plan which details what we'll be doing in the next few months at our sites. While most activities you list won't go as planned, it's a great guide to have at site since we have no structure in our daily routines. Plus, translating it into French gives you an actual document to present to the Director of the school or the Inspecteur (in charge of all the primary schools in a certain district; like the boss of all the school directors within a school district). I showed it to Jean, my homologue (assigned counterpart in the community) and it was just good to discuss my future plans and see if we can implement them elsewhere if it works.
I've thought of about 6 activities I'd like to implement from now until May, two of which I want to at least start this month (January): 1) completing Clay's World Map and 2) doing alphabet and number drawings for CP1 and CP2 classes. I figure starting small is the best idea, plus it'll give me more motivation to take on the bigger projects/ideas that I have in my Action Plan.
Clay, the volunteer I replaced, painted this incredibly detailed World Map on one of the big walls at the Primary School across my house. It's so well done! When I first arrived at site, many people, especially teachers, asked me "When are you finishing the World Map?" I looked at it and asked what was unfinished, and they said that not all the countries were listed. So I figured, why not name all of them to help students with their geography, plus add a few other things (a compass, the Peace Corps logo, a "Carte du Monde" [Map of the World] title, a list of the 5 major oceans and the major continents...by the way, the education system here teaches students that there are only 5 continents while in the US, we were taught there are 7. Interesting, eh?). It'll be a good initial project to get me out of my house and doing something productive. Just need to buy the paint and translate all the countries in French. Let's go!
An idea I got from an older GEE Volunteer was doing alphabet and number drawings for CP1 and CP2 students (the equivalent of Kindergarten and 1st Grade). It not only helps students with literacy but can make the classroom a little more decorative and conducive to creative learning. The idea is to write/color the letters individually on regular sheets of paper. I'd come in to the class a couple of times a week and present a few letters, have kids repeat them, write them on their little chalkboards, write words on the big chalkboard and ask them to identify the letter, and possibly do drawings of objects that have the discussed letter in them. In the end, I would tape these letter and number drawings/letters around the classroom and teach them the alphabet song to ensure proper pronunciation and memorization. Hope the kids are receptive to this! I've noticed that there isn't much (rather, any) creativity in the lesson plan and I'm hopng this will spice it up a bit and motivate kids at an early age. We all know this -- literacy/education is key to having a successful and productive life, and in a country that has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world (if not the lowest), this small activity is one small step to changing that!
On another note, I'm not one to make many New Year's Resolutions, partially because I never really follow them. But if there's one that I definitely want to stick with, it's this: take more pictures of your community, the people you live with and where you live!! I regret not taking more pictures of kids during my first three months at site. I was afraid they'd view me differently if I just whipped out my camera but I realized that they love pictures, plus before I know it, my two years will have passed and I would have no pictures to show for it!
A little girl named Aneq. I thought she was at least in the eauivalent of Kindergarten but she's not old enough to go to school.
Aneq, Armel, Karem and another young kid (it's hard to remember everyone's names) on my porch. You can see the Ouattaras' house in the background. Armel is one of the first kids I met and has helped me out a lot. Also, this picture is a perfect example of the age hierarchy here...look at how Karem is about to hit the little kid to get out of the picture! Oyy vey.
Wish me luck and please, please, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers!