Saturday, September 12, 2009

Here we go again…

So it looks like the rainy season is starting again. I was hoping the
dry season would last another couple of weeks but oh well. Back to
the wet, cold and mud, not to mention canceling class because your
students can’t hear you/are getting rained on. Not ideal, but it’s
life!

No big news with the computer lab besides getting a projector set up.
Oh, and that with the wet season back, the solar panels produce a lot
less power and we are expecting even more cuts in the time students
can use the computers.

We had our first debate! It was a success, despite our loss to our
opponent. Both teams did very well, but the English is definitively
more advanced at the other school, and they’d debated four times
already this year. I am extremely proud of our students for how they
did. For most of them, it was their first debate and for the rest,
their second. We had two Francophones on the team, and it is a huge
accomplishment for them to give their arguments and ideas in English.
We also had three Senior 1s and two Senior 2s, so our team was a lot
younger. With some more practice they could be excellent.

The day after the debate, my friends and I went on an epic hike around
the falls. We climbed a mountain, then climbed all the way down to
the river, walked along the river, had a fisherman ferry us up river
in a little canoe when we hit an impassible cliff, then climbed most
of the way back up the original mountain. It took about 5 hours, and
when we finally reached the end, we were exhausted, sun burnt, filthy
and bleeding from several cuts and scratches caused by rocks and
thorns. In other words, it was a great hike! There are some pretty
good pictures and when I get good enough internet, I’ll post a few.

Finally, just a note to any perspective Worldteachers who have found
my blog, don’t join this organization. I know it’s not great form to
be bashing the organization that I belong to, but there is something
very wrong with WorldTeach. We had a few hints at the beginning by
the way they treated us and the lack of information we received during
orientation. We discovered a bit more throughout the year as we
consistently were left hanging when we needed support. (Field
Director leaving the country on vacation during our first two weeks of
teaching is just one example.) Now though, we are fully aware of the
problems that through this organization all the way to the home office
in Boston. Let me be clear: I love my placement, despite the problems
I face, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be here,
but I would not recommend WorldTeach to ANYONE. Find a different
organization. Please

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My life is computers, debates and moto rides with strangers.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been online, too long. I haven’t
been to Kigali for several weeks now, and the Internet at the District
Office is consistently down whenever I’m around. I’ve felt pretty
disconnected. I’ve almost forgotten how to use the tubes!

I have had some successes with the computer lab! My first attempts
were frustrated by the fact that the wiring in the lab didn’t work and
by administration blowing it off by saying we didn’t have the money to
fix it. All it took though was one call from the District Education
Office telling us that if we weren’t going to use the computers,
they’d take them away, and miraculously we “found” the money to fix
it! (Turned out it wasn’t really broken, the wiring just didn’t
connect to anything). I immediately set up four of the new computers
and began testing all the old equipment to see what works. I’ve now
tested almost everything and we’ve got 9 working out of the 18 or so
that we had, and we’re a little short on mice. And power cords.
Everything here has a different set of plugs, so it’s hard to find
cords that fit in the right places. Anyway, students are now using
the computer lab in small groups, so I consider it a success! Sonya
(VSO) has also been a huge help and is making great visual aids on
rice sacks for the walls of the lab. My next big hurdle concerns
(surprise surprise) the administration again. I think they want to
only let students use the old computers, to which I asked “what about
the 18 brand new computers? What are we going to do with those?” The
reply was, of course, that the teachers can use them! I felt like
crying. What’s the point of having all those computers if they barely
get used? I’m going to have to put my foot down on this one.

I’ve also been busy with debate. We’ve got a lot of good students who
are interested in debate, and we set up two debates this term with
other schools. The first one is this Friday with Kayonza Modern,
another school in our program, and later in September we have a repeat
of our debate with our sister school in Tanzania. This time we are
going there, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to go as well! The only
problem is the expensive visa, but since I’m going in November anyway,
I might as well buy it now! Or, if possible, just get in for free…

Here’s one for you: have you ever gotten on the back of someone’s
moto, thinking that you knew who there were, and talked to them for
the entire 10 minute ride, only to discover that you don’t actually
know who they are? That’s my life! (Note: he seemed to know who I was,
so it was probably my fault that I didn’t recognize him. Nice guy,
though!)

Happy Birthday Aunt Carol!

Oh, and I’ve got less than two months of teaching left, plus less than
a month of traveling until I come home!