Monday, April 25, 2011

April heat...again.

What this blog entry is really about is a hodgepodge mix of photos from April...I'll just narrate after each photo. Enjoy!

Jon cooking at Daniel's house in Gaoua.

Brenda, the master chef of our Southwest family, cooking...empanadas! And they're damn good. With limited resources!

Hercules on my porch with the poster I made in the's for my CEP Exam Jeopardy Review Game. One of the activities I've been working on is preparing my CM2 students for their CEP exam, with the hope that they'll be able to continue to the middle school level. Fun times! And using Jeopardy as a review exercise is great. I also created the 'CEP Exam Jeopardy Review Guide for Peace Corps Volunteers', which will hopefully help for PCV generations to come!

Grace getting henna-style tattooing done. A really big thing among women here in Burkina Faso, they use natural products.

Another simple but delicious meal made by Brenda at my house. Dude, it's garlic bread. In Burkina Faso!

Madame Constance also getting the temporary traditional tattooing done by Aicha.

One of the many ways that Hercules is found asleep in my house. So cute!

A bunch of us in the Southwest exploring the "municipal forest" in Diebougou.

Inside the caves in Diebougou which used to be used by the French army over 50 years ago...I think.

Traditional Easter pictures with the Ouattara family!

Madame Ouattara: like my extended, really cool aunt here in Burkina Faso!

Me and my Burkina Faso family.

...and another sleeping picture of Hercules to hold you over until the next time I blog about him. Seriously, he makes my day! haha

Monday, April 18, 2011

Club d'Anglais and a US/BF letter exchange.

Club d'Anglais. An English Club. It's funny how I've been wanting to do this since the beginning of my service at the end of 2009, but it's only during the last few months at site that I've finally got one up and running...even for a little bit.

So the idea for me was to get it up and running, then have the volunteer that replaces me continue the work in collaboration with the elected officers of the English Club. So far, so good! I'm working with the new middle school at my site, and their grade level is 5eme (equivalent in the US is around 8th/9th grade).

We've had a few meetings and our first activity was to start a United States/Burkina Faso letter exchange with my high school French teacher's French 5-6 class that I've been corresponding with since the beginning of my service. Exciting! Subsequent activities were getting the students to practice their oral skills in English since they aren't given that opportunity as much. I've tried to ask questions to the class and have them respond with different answers, writing them on the board and hopefully expanding their English vocabulary at the same time.

Our last meeting, we elected President, Vice-President and Secretary to continue the club and hopefully help my replacement volunteer with starting it up again for the next school year. Exciting stuff as well!

Me with the new elected officers of the English Club (Bernadette [Secretary], Abdoulaye [Vice-President], Sylvain [President]) and a guest appearance by Hercules! Yeah, he followed me all the way to the school.

A snapshot of the chalkboard.

As I was leaving the school, this was the view of the clouds and such. Rainy season is upon us!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Girls' Soccer Match...gone wrong...

International Women's Day. March 8.

It's a day that's celebrated around the world and has particular meaning to me since I work primarly with girls at the school level. So I thought to myself, what activity could I do to promote girls, show the community something a little new and have fun at the same time? Of course, a Girls' Soccer Match!

Thanks to my Dad and his gift of some really nice soccer balls, I decided to add a little competitive edge as well to get the girls (and all the students, for that matter) motivated and excited. The idea was to give the winning class a brand new soccer ball, but I decided to also give the 'losing' class another soccer ball as well, so everyone wins.

The CM2 girls were in my Girls' Club last year and thanks to Ali, know a little bit about the rules and how to play (cultural side note: here in Burkina Faso, soccer is a predominantly male sport. Rarely, if ever, do you see women, let alone girls, play soccer). And my CM1 girls were currently learning the ins-and-outs of soccer at our weekly Girls' Club meetings.

Because of everything that's been going on in Burkina Faso, the soccer match had to be pushed back to April 12. Not a problem! Ali served as the referee and everything seemed to be set. The day arrived, school ended and all the kids were getting excited. The girls were even wearing jerseys that the school somehow had, stashed away in the closet!

It was absolutely exhilarating and exciting to watch these girls play, and certainly showed the community their ability to do anything. Seriously! Until things took a turn for the worse...

...I guess I should first start with soccer being not just a sport, but almost a way of life. Especially for Burkinabè. They take it very, very seriously, and losing is no easy thing to take.

Because it's been so long, I don't remember the exact details but the CM2 girls were losing and their CM2 teacher instantly got angry at Ali, the referee, for an alleged unfair call. The CM1 girls made a penalty kick and won, but the CM2 teacher wouldn't take he stormed off the field and took all of his kids with him. Talk about bad sportsmanship, right?

At the time, I didn't quite understand what was going on until Madame Ouattara, my neighbor and CM1 teacher, explained. Crap! So now I felt awkwardly wedged between all of this confusion.

Long story short, I made certain that everyone knew that the school actually gained two soccer balls and that the community knew that girls can play soccer. And that's the essential message from all of this.

The girls in action, with Ali as referee.

Madame Ouattara leading all of her students.

Probably the picture that best describes all the chaos at the end...the two teachers on the left complaining and Ali in the middle of it all. Haha!

The winning class...CM1! Congrats!