Friday, March 5, 2010

Frustrations...and also being reminded that no matter what, I'm still an American.

What a week! To start, I get back to site after a weekend in Gaoua (the Internet connection has been down for some reason and I needed to send some e-mails so I stayed longer than expected). I'm using this here blog as a venting board, so here it goes:

I turn on my laptop on Monday and...nothing. NOTHING! Nothing shows up on the screen, but I can hear the fan under the laptop slowly 'wheezing.' Ugh! So frustrating and I had a feeling this would happen. It's especially frustrating because I do work on this more than I expected (quarterly reports, things for projects/activities, etc.) and the fact that it could be broken upsets me. But Kyle's going to take a look at it so hopefully it'll be okay.

The heat is also getting ridiculous and I'm sweating like crazy. I think I might be getting heat rash on my forearms and hands which is kind of expected since I'm not used to this kind of heat. But damn is it itchy! Stomach problems during training and now this. Oyy!

A tell-tale sign that I've been living here for a little bit: my clothes and sandals are definitely showing it. I'm starting to see all these tears in my clothes, although I will say that was expected. My Rainbow sandals (most comfortable footwear ever!) are starting to tear (the strap on the left sandal) and it makes me sad because I wear these everywhere!

Work-wise, I started my Reading Club with the CE1 students (US equivalent is 2nd Grade). The teacher helped me divide up the class into 9 groups of about 6-7 students, each group with a chef (student leader) who can read well at grade level. Talked with the class as a whole beforehand and told them that after I met with all the groups, we'd do a big class competition to see which group understood the most, with a big grand prize at the end. They all seem motivated and excited!

I met with the first group on Wednesday and of course, they come late. But I was excited to work nonetheless and used the children's books I got in Ouaga. The two books I'm using are about manners/being polite in school and a book on a boy that loves soccer (the most popular sport here in Burkina Faso). I read aloud first and then each student took their turn reading a page aloud. I'd correct them on pronunciation and ask a couple comprehension questions after each page, awarding stickers to those that got the questions right.

I knew that there would be kids that couldn't read at grade level but I noticed one girl who couldn't read at all. I mean, I could hear the group leader whispering the words in her ear as she was 'reading' aloud. It was insane, but it's something I want to target now so they don't fall behind in school later. It's no easy task, and my first group meeting was exhausting but I'm here to help as much as I can.

Some of the Peulh kids on my porch after school. Look at the little boy (Hussein) with the white shoes. So cute! He was initially scared of me but I think we're all good now!

But the optimist in me is determined to not let these frustrations get to me!

This week, I was also reminded of how much of an American I am. No matter how integrated you are in a culture, you still carry traits/parts of you from your original culture. Here's a quick list of mine this week:

  • I wanted to get this Reading Club up and running a while ago but it's been hard trying to get in contact with the teacher. In the Burkinabè culture, whenever you want to start a project/activity, it's customary to consult with many people, particularly authorities, even if the project could be done by yourself immediately. While I could've easily gathered all the students, discussed logistics and run everything myself, I still needed to consult with the teacher.
  • The Ouattaras always mention 'time is money' (I guess it's a saying that they got from the American movies they watch and they always joke how Americans say it all the time). But it's true! It was getting dark one evening and I was talking with Rachid and a few friends. But I wanted to rush out and get bread for dinner before it got too dark/late because I hate biking at night. I grab my bike and as I leave, Rachid says: 'Wow, you always seem to be in a hurry.' Which I guess I didn't really realize until he said it. I wonder if his conception of 'being in a hurry' is my conception of 'doing things at normal speed,' if that makes any sense.
  • My laptop. It reminded me of the convenience we have back in the US. Whenever something like a laptop is broken, you can just drive to Best Buy and have it fixed in a day. No problem. Here in Burkina Faso, not so much...
  • One afternoon, one of my neighbors was washing his moto and he asked if back in the US, I wash my car every week. It was such a random question but it reminded me so much of how much I missed riding in my car. And with my friends! I blame all those years of college in LA, driving everywhere! Haha.
  • Personal space. The concept doesn't really exist here...usually I'm pretty open with people but after living next to the school and having 20 kids peep through your windows and door all the time, it can get exhausting. Like a fish in a fishbowl. But I'm getting a wall soon! haha
  • One of my neighbors is a teacher and she recently had a baby. And now her mother-in-law cares for the baby as my neighbor goes to work. Seeing the grandma reminds me so much of my Grandma back home and reminded me of the accesibility to family back in the U.S. And even if I was far away, all it took was a simple phone call or a drive back home for the weekend.
  • Thinking ahead/the future. A couple of people (like Ali) have already asked me what I'd be doing after the Peace Corps and if I'd be extending for a third year. But I haven't even reached the halfway mark of my service yet! Anyway, it's got me thinking...

And that's that! I apologize if this seemed more like a bitch (excuse the language)/rant list...Heading to Ouaga again next week for a VAC meeting and I get to meet our new Country Director. Holla!

1 comment:

cecilia said...

grandma never ceases to ask about you and david every night.....time flies i can't imagine you're almost on your way to 1 year in burkina faso by june 8!

love the kids' pictures. are they the same kids that go to your house everyday? what's jon eating? is it a sweet potato?

love your blog son, a lot of catching up but i finally finished reading your blog. love the pictures. and most of all, am really happy and at peace knowing that you are one of the quatarra's family and that you're more comfy now than before. plus de pouvoir pour vous! love you.