Saturday, September 09, 2006

My holiday and the first week of teaching (email from Amy)

Well it was, overall, a very enjoyable holiday. It started when I got stuck in Anker. Yes, that's right, I was stuck. School ended officially on Friday, but we ran out of food at the hostel so we told all the kids to go home Wednesday night. The same thing happens at other schools so the teachers who have kids at other schools (who are also the only teachers with cars) went to go get their kids and then didn't come back. Then all of the rest of the people abandoned the village by donkey cart for the farms. That left just me and a few people down at the shebeen in the mostly deserted town. I didn't think I was going to be able to get out until Monday which deeply disappointed me since I hadn't seen any other volunteers since the fourth of July (over 7 weeks.) Don't worry too much, there were still a few cars in the village so I could have gotten out if it was an emergency but they were all heading for the farm or staying in the village. Anyway, I was lucky to find a hike on Sunday afternoon (a free hike too, although there were five of us in the cab of the pickup and another five to seven in the pickup part with luggage and stuff too. As I said, there's never such a thing as not enough room for one more.)

So after I got out of the village I headed to Otjiwarongo and met some people there. I met Elizabeth, Brock, Lindsay and a couple of other people who had been up to Etosha. We went to the Cheetah Conservation Fund and saw some cheetahs. I'd love to take my kids there. They apparently have a three day program that costs N$5 a kid (less than US$1.) You just have to provide transportation and food.

After that I headed off to Swakopmund. I met Sandra and Dylan and Mike there and we had a lot of fun. We window shopped and ate good food. We went to this nice, fancy hotel and layed next to the fountain and pretended that we belonged there (we did buy Cokes so technically we did belond there.) We read Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and added humerous asides. Swakop was cold, but I was smart and packed warm clothes. I also packed a tin cup and silverware which was very smart because we ended up renting a bungalow with a little kitchenette (a hot plate and a refridgerator) but it had no pots, pans, or dishes so we made hot chocolate in my one cup and took turns drinking it.

After Swakop we all headed to Windhoek. I had my medicals and the others were going to go through on their way to their sites. The Peace Corps put us up at a really nice place called Jan Jonker Holiday Apartments. I ate a lot of good food and saw a bunch of other volunteers. Jason showed me some copiers but they were all sold out of the kind that automatically duplex so we decided that in a couple of weeks I'll come back to Windhoek and buy it. Some things I purchased while I was there--- A KhoeKhoe Bible (Elobmis-- litereally "God word"), 10 metres of coaxial cable (I am in the middle of making my own cell phone antenna out of spare wire, a straight stick, and some super glue and duct tape. We have decided that if I can pull it off I will officially get the McGuyver award.), and fudge (yeah, I think you can guess what that's for.) I also bought Harry Potter book 5 (books are really expensive here, even buying it used it was N$90 and new books, if you can find them in English are much much more expensive. Still, it's a really good stress reliever and there are a lot of days when I need that.) Anyway, I picked up a few books from the Peace Corps lounge too, not that I don't have enough books, but what can you do?

I had a medical checkup but it was basically, "Are you sick? No? OK then." The dentist was a little more extreme. She found a small cavity and she was going to have me tell them to look at it the next time I came in, but when she found out that might be in one year she decided to
fill it on the spot which caught me a little off guard.

After Windhoek I headed to Otjiwarongo and bought a bunch of food at the Super Spaar (I actually found lettuce YAY! I've been making salads with homemade French dressing. It's tough to find lettuce here and I hadn't had a real salad for a long long time) and I stayed one night (it's too far to hike all the way to Anker from Windhoek in one day.) I got a really great hike the next day and got back to Anker by noon (I was really lucky and never really had to wait anywhere, even in Kamanjab.)

My plans for the term-- I am revising my discipline policy again. When I was in Swakop I bought one of those paper punches shaped like a lizard. The nice thing about this is that, unlike my stickers, it's relatively difficult to steal one of them. The kids can earn lizards by doing their homework, by not getting their name on the board, by getting good marks on a test, and, occationally by doing nice things for other learners. The lizards can be saved up and used to buy privledges, like bathroom or water breaks, or things, like cheap pens, stickers, or bookmarks. I'm hoping that it will work better since I'm sick of yelling and since I'm sick of other teachers beating my learners for being bad in my classes. Also I'm starting a "Reading Club" which will
hopefully be kind of like storytime. I'll read a book out loud to the learners in small groups. The learners who stick with it the whole time will get to watch a movie of the book at the end. We're starting with Harry Potter since I have both the book and the movie here, but there are a couple of other books that it would work with (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Holes are the ones that I've been thinking of.)

This week Diane Mills, the VSO volunteer from Khorixas, came to get the little girl who is deaf into the first grade classroom. I was nervous, but I think it actually might work. I have agreed to help in the classroom three times a week and Mrs. /Goagoses seemed to be really good with it. It was nice to have someone in the house for a change.

Still, it's been a busy week and I'm glad to have a weekend. Next week I'm pretty excited about science class. We're studying energy and I'm going to have the kids build a solar oven so we can talk about solar power. Well, that's about all I can think of right now. I'll let you know
how things are going a little later on when I teaching has really started

Take Care,

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