Saturday, May 8, 2010

The humidity, insects/mosquitos/bats & thunder are out...Girls' Club to the rescue!

Okay, clearly I've hit a dry spot with blog entry titles. Oyy! But I think the blog entry title perfectly sums up my life right about now.

No doubt, the month of April has been pivotal for me. I feel like I've adjusted to a comfortable degree and that I'm finally doing some work. Meaningful work. Working with the kids is exhausting but so much fun at the same time! Hooray...a sense of purpose again! Haha.

Aicha and Farida drawing at my house. They're so good -- I hang their drawings on my walls. Great decor, yo!

Jon and his sign language tutor, Siaka, at our usual hangout in Gaoua.

Demetrius returns!

Funny, funny kid.

Me helping my neighbors remove the shells of the neere. I don't quite know how to explain it. It's a fairly sweet snack and has the consistency of Cream of Wheat without water (Gwen's interpretation).

Holy crap, Rachid can JUMP! Look how far that is.

With CP1, the Alphabet and Literacy Project continues. With CP2, I've continued the Math and Numeracy Project which started off kinda rocky but now seems to be working well with the students. I just finished a Reading Club/Competition with CE1 and hope to replicate that with CE2. With CM2, they have the CEP Exam (Primary School exit exam) coming up and if they want to continue to middle school, they need to pass this! So I've been doing Jeopardy-like review exercises which have been so much fun!

Me conducting the CM2 Jeopardy Review. Divided the class in Rouge (red), Jaune (yellow) and Verte (green) teams...the team with the most points wins! Thanks to Jon for taking pictures!

Using Clay's World Map, I've been able to practice geography with the CM2 students. Really happy I replaced a Volunteer because you can build on what they've already my case, a world map.

My CM1 Girls' Life Skills/English/Soccer Club is perhaps the highlight of my week. Seriously, we've only had a few meetings thus far but I can already see some changes in the girls. Most of them aren't as shy/timid anymore and attendance has been very consistent (all of them show up and it's not even a school day!). They're slowly (but surely) getting used to my French and are starting to understand the Life Skills activities a little more.

The girls doing soccer conditioning exercises before heading out to the field!

Cool action shot with Ali. So glad he can help me out with soccer!

Last club meeting, I discussed the different types of amour (love) -- with friends, family and your significant other. But I also mentioned another type of love: amour-propre (literally translated as love of self, but really, it's self-esteem). I created sample stories and asked the girls to identify any key adjectives that describe the girls in these sample stories. Example: "Fatimata loves math and history, and does very well in school. She always raises her hand when the teacher asks a question. When her class has tests, she always gets some of the highest grades and studies very hard to do so. She is usually one of the highest ranked students in her class." I would ask the girls, "How would you describe Fatimata?" and they would usually give some good responses, which surprised me. "Intelligent, hardworking, obedient to the teacher" and the list continues.

In the end, I compiled all of these adjectives on the board and wrote above all of them "Je suis..." (I am...). I went through the list aloud and asked the girls if they believed they were, say, intelligent, and asked them to raise their hand if they believed they were. Few girls did because of timidity, so I asked some of the bolder girls to say it: "Je suis intelligente!" (I am intelligent!) aloud in front of the class. After a few adjectives, most of the girls got the courage to say this, saying things such as "Je suis intelligente/belle/puissante/gentille!" (I am intelligent/beautiful/powerful/nice!) and yelling them out loud! Such an empowering feeling to hear these girls say these things amongst each other. It may seem like such a simple activity but having these girls come out of their shells and realize their true potential had me smiling for ear-to-ear all week!

A little bit of English and a little bit of Life Skills activities.

Being in the classroom many times each week has helped me realize one of my true life passions: teaching. It may not be the most glamorous job, and definitely not the highest paying. But if you want a country/society to develop, educating the youth is absolutely key. It led me to think about my future plans after Peace Corps...but I think I'll save that for a much later blog entry. =)

Well, the school year's almost coming to a close (or so it feels like). Rainy season is upon us and before I know it, the new group of trainees will be here. April -- you went by so quickly! I can't believe May is already here!

I realize that while I have my life here in Burkina Faso, life continues on in the US. Today (May 8) marks a number of special occasions. My Ate Maye (cousin on Dad's side) and Kuya Lester are getting married today in SF! So congrats! And some of my dear friends are graduating soon. From undergrad at LMU, my Ading Felicia, Robert/Daligs, Ben, Trisha, Carina, etc. etc. I'm so incredibly proud of you and am there in spirit. One of my other good friends is graduating tomorrow (May 9), Allyson, getting her Master of Arts in Education from LMU, too...Holla! Aaaand next weekend, one of my best friends, Melanie, will be graduating from Dominican as a Registered Nurse (RN). Seriously, I am blessed with the most amazing and inspiring family and friends!


A.F.Thomas said...

Dear Michael, I was searching on your blog for ur email but I couldn't find it so i'm just gonna ask you a question right here if you don't mind. ok as someone coming next month i'm still tryna pack and i was told by some people to bring a sleeping bag. but you suggest bringing a Therma rest sleeping pad. I understand because of the heat why you wouldn't wanna be in a sleeping bag but arent the therma rest pads designed for insulation in cold climates? so wouldnt sleeping on one make you hotter? Also, why do you suggest the Bug Hut for two people instead of the Bug Hut for a single person. Isnt the Bug Hut 2 big enough so that you stand out (I mean like everyone's sleeping on mats and ur in a big tent)? I really appreciate the info you've provided in your blog, btw. Appreciate ur response. And will see you next month!

janeth said...

mikey, i can't believe you'll almost have a year that is insane
congratulations on your many projects they sound like they're going well and you doing such a great job with the girls
i love reading your blog and seeing what u're up to
love and miss you

MeganElizabeth said...

Bravo Michael! Amazing! I love the photos. The world map looks very nice, and is probably a helpful tool to those children! I am so proud of you for all your hard work! Should I call you Professor Michael?!?! I'm such Lony and Veronique would be proud! xoxo Love you!

Anonymous said...

Michael, I am so proud of you and what you're doing for these young girls. It's important to build up their self love and confidence at a young age, especially in a male-dominated culture. You keep on doing what you're doing. I haven't read your blog since about February and I took the time to read your entries up to now and it was addictive and inspiring. You give me hope that one day I can do great things in my life and that with a strong will, confidence, and hard work I can surely accomplish many great things. I miss you, and I hope you're doing great. Please let me know if you'd like me to send anything to you. Food, toiletries, stamps?! =) Let me know! Love you, miss you!

your Ate Nikki