Another Library Update

So I’m back to no internet on my computer again, which is the main reason I haven’t posted in a long time. But I wanted to give you guys a brief update of what’s happening with the library. We have a complete building with a roof. The inside is all plastered, but we’re running really low on money, so we may not be able to plaster the outside right away. Here’s what it looks like right now.

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Quick Library Update

Hey guys. This will be short because I’m doing this from my phone. I just wanted to share the library progress. We’re still building up, but I think we’ll be ready to roof soon. I paid for all the roofing supplies earlier this week, so hopefully the library will have a roof by the end of next week.

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This photo is actually from the beginning of this week. Since it was taken a few more layers of brick have been added to the top.

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The construction guys wanted a photo with their work.

It’s Been a While…

It has been a really long time since I last posted anything of substance. I don’t even know where to start. I’m not going to summarize the past couple months because that would take a long time and I think it would be really boring. So we’ll start at the end of April.

I spent the last couple weeks of April at home in America. It was wonderful. Stressful, but wonderful. I got to eat delicious food, I got to see some friends, I went to two weddings, it was good. Unfortunately I was only home for 10 days and I spent a good chunk of those two days with the eye doctor, which kind of sucked. But at least I know there’s nothing wrong with my eye.

One of the things I really wanted to do between now and the end of my service was try to get some more exercise. So while I was home I got some workout clothes and new tennis shoes and I was going to start running. So when I got back to Kenya I started going on runs. Unfortunately, on my second run, I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle. It was not so good. In a matter of hours it looked like I had a golf ball strapped to my ankle. And peace corps wasn’t super helpful. They told me to stay off of it and go to the nearest dispensary to see if I could get crutches. The nearest dispensary is down the road, but there was no way I was going to make it there on my own, so I asked my neighbor is she would be nice enough to go check for me. Her response: “we do not use those in Kenya. You need to find yourself a big stick.” That was extremely helpful. She was nice enough to find a big stick for me, but it didn’t help that much. This all wouldn’t have been that much of an issue if my choo wasn’t a million years away from my house, making going to the bathroom extra difficult. Fortunately for me, I have some friends in Kakamega who offered to let me stay with them for a few days while I recovered. Thank god for that. Not only were they nice enough to feed me and put up with me for 4 days, we found me some crutches.

While all of this was happening, school had started. So I missed the first week of school, which wasn’t too bad because I only missed exams. But getting to school on crutches was hard. Sure, the school is only a 5 minute walk from my house, but the road is not remotely flat and it’s rainy season, so it’s always muddy. On crutches this nice 5 minute walk turned into a 15 minute muddy death trap. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it was not fun or easy. When I finally got to school the first day the students all felt bad for me and by the end of the day I was ready to smack the next person who said “pole pole pole” to me. However, because I was fairly immobile, the students were far more willing to participate and come write on the board for me. So that was a plus.

Things with my ankle have gotten a little better. Three weeks out and it still hurts and is still swollen, though it is no longer the size of a golf ball. Peace corps did finally send me to a doctor to get it looked at and it is not broken, which is good. Unfortunately I now have a pretty bad cold too. Things never get easier. But at least today’s a national holiday, which means a three day weekend. Whoo!

In other news, the library is coming along nicely. There were some delays because I was having a hard time getting the money into Kenya, so things haven’t moved much since school started. But as you can see, the foundation is poured, the four walls have been started, and things are supposed to pick up again this weekend. I’ll post more pictures when progress has been made. So until next time…

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Help me build a library for my school!

Help me build a library for my school! Hey guys! a quick update. I’m in the process of trying to build a library at my school, so if you click on the link it’ll take you to a page where you can donate money to help me make that happen. Please help us out and spread the word! P.S. a real update is coming by the end of the week.

English Is a Funny Language

It’s raining!!!!

I am so excited about rain that I had to make a blog update. Just kidding. That’s only half true (yes, that’s how exciting rain is to me now). Since I last updated, which wasn’t that long ago, I’ve had a very interesting and exhausting week. I started teaching the form ones this week, which means my workload went from 4 lessons a week to 20 lessons a week. Needless to say, my body hasn’t adjusted to standing up and talking for so long, so by the end of every day I’m exhausted.

My first day with the form ones was interesting. I went in there, told them what’s what, laid down my rules, and dove right in. The first class I had with them was math. Fortunately, the majority of the stuff in the beginning of the book (such as natural numbers, factors, and lowest common denominators) they actually did in primary school, so we breezed through to integers, which apparently they haven’t seen before. Kenyan ministry of education, if you’re reading this, you need to introduce your students to negative numbers in primary school. I think you’d see their KCSE math scores go up if you did. Anyway, I was very impressed that the students actually listened to me and instead of blurting out answers whenever I asked a question, the students actually raised their hands. Man, is it easier to do things when there aren’t 80 kids yelling out different answers.

Later in the day (like an hour later) I had my first English class. The English book we use is great for homework and stuff because it’s full of exercises, but it’s not very good for planning lessons. So the first day, I took the teacher’s guide’s advice and we did a couple ice breakers. One of the ice breakers was two truths and a lie, only it was one truth, one partial truth, and one lie, which was utterly confusing. Nobody got the partial truth right. I had kids saying “I was born in France” for their partial truths and they considered it right because they were born… it was a learning experience. During this little exercise, I let them get into groups and say their answers out loud to give everyone a chance to share and as I went around the room to make sure everyone understood what they were supposed to be doing one of the groups called me over. So I went over to see what the trouble was, and one of the students said to me, “Madame, can you please teach in Kiswahili because I do not understand English and I feel lost all the time.” I stood there for a minute trying to figure out how serious this kid was, and after I realized he was dead serious, I said “but I do not know enough Kiswahili to teach in it.” Wrong answer. Clearly I was lying, so the kid started to argue with me until I said, “Look, this is an English class. I must teach it in English so that your English skills will get better. It is only the first day. If you try a little harder, you will find that it is not as hard as you think it is.” My favorite part of this conversation: he clearly understood enough English to argue with me.

English class is clearly going to be the focus of this blog in the future because all my good stories for the week come from English. Yesterday I was teaching the students about nouns and there was an exercise in the textbook that asked the students to look around the classroom and name five proper nouns that they saw, twelve common nouns, and two collective nouns. They got the proper nouns part right because all they had to do was name five students. Now, there are two kinds of common nouns: concrete and abstract. The concrete nouns are things like chair, table, book, shoe. Abstract nouns are things like happiness, anger, corruption, etc. So when I asked the kids to name twelve common nouns that they saw in the classroom, here are the responses I got: happiness, joy, harmony, anger, sadness, corruption, love and some other abstract nouns. Halfway through, I tried to tell them that I was look for things like desk and chair, but they kept throwing emotions at me. I guess we were feeling very bipolar yesterday. And then when I asked for the two collective nouns that they saw in the room, the first answer I got was “gang of thieves.” Really? We have a gang of thieves in the room? This is normal. It was weird.

So that was my week (excluding Friday obviously). I am so exhausted. I want to sleep for a week. But alas, I’ll have to settle for Saturday and Sunday. Until next time.

Same Old Same Old

Greetings from the sun. I really shouldn’t complain. It’s not like I live in the desert… so I guess it could be worse. But damn, it gets hotter and hotter everyday. I’ll take uncontrollable mud over this heat wave any day of the week.

The form ones have finally showed up. I haven’t really started teaching them yet though. They’re still trickling in a little, so I start working with them next week. Plus I have a ton of stuff to do in preparation for them because I’m teaching them both math and English. The great thing about this term so far is that I’ve been teaching form two chemistry, which I taught last year, so I already had all my notes and lesson plans mapped out for me. It made life a billion times easier (and occasionally kind of boring). But I didn’t teach math or English last year. And English is going to be a challenge. I got the reading comprehension stuff down, I can make that up as we go. But I’m not particularly gifted in the grammar area of things. I’ve always had the attitude that if it looked or sounded right, it was fine (which works for me about 95% of the time). I can’t really teach that. The Kenyan syllabus also has this nasty little section of the final exam that focuses on pronunciation. This would be all well and good if there was an oral part to the exam, but these kids have to learn how to write pronunciations out dictionary style, which I can’t even do. They also have to be able to interpret conversations that are entirely written out on paper. If there’s one thing the digital age has taught us, it’s that conversations can come off completely different on paper than when read aloud. Tone, intonation, and body language can all change the meaning of a sentence. This should be interesting.

The form twos and threes had exams this week (form fours had them the two weeks previous and form ones just got here). Don’t ask me why the form four exams couldn’t overlap with the form two and three exams. And don’t get me started on what a waste of time it was to have the form ones here this week. They didn’t take exams, and teachers tend to focus solely on exams while exams are happening. Plus our walls are pretty thin, so if we were to teach the form ones, the form twos could be able to hear us loud and clear, which is kind of distracting when you’re taking an exam. So the form ones pretty much just sat around all week getting in trouble for being too loud. What a waste. However, exam week means Megan gets to be super lazy. Especially since I was only giving one exam. Unfortunately, said exam was on the last day of exams because god forbid I get to give an exam on the first day. They always schedule my exams on the last day. I’m getting sick of it. If my English exam gets scheduled on the last day at the end of this term, heads will roll. Chemistry exams I can mark in an hour. I don’t think English will be so easy.

In other news… I have no other news. Life is pretty much the same as always. School dominates my life. When I’m not in school, I’m usually sitting around watching movies or reading. So I guess I’ll wrap this up. Hopefully I’ll have a good story or two next time I post.

God It’s Hot

Greetings all. I don’t have too much to update you guys on. It’s hotter than hell here right now, and has been for the past few weeks, so my brain functionality has taken a little vacation for the rest of the dry season. I get about 10 hours of cool weather at night/early morning, but the rest of the day, it’s just super hot and my body just shuts down. It’s been awesome.

Reading club has officially begun. We had a fairly large turn out, 70 students in total (which is almost half the school right now). I gave the students their first reading assignment and tried to explain what I wanted them to do with the notebook paper I gave them. We’ll see tomorrow how many of them actually listened.

I’ve been taking total advantage of my 4 day weekend situation. Last week I took a 4 day vacation to visit my friend Cindy at her site, which isn’t actually that far from mine. It was fun. We had some misadventures that may have involved a mouse at 4 am and a broken wall socket (not at the same time… that would’ve been tragic). I’ll get a 3 day weekend this weekend because the form ones are supposed to start showing up tomorrow, which means they’ll all show up on Monday. I’m going to miss my long weekends. But I suppose I should be happy that I have more things in my life to keep me busy.

The form two students are starting to get more open in class. We’ve gotten to a point in our relationship where they’re actually comfortable stopping me mid-sentence to ask a question, which makes me very happy. I think they’re realizing that the more questions they ask, the better I can help them understand things that they don’t get. They’re also much more enthusiastic about answering questions and writing on the board. Yay progress.

That’s really all I have to report right now. Well, at least that’s all I can come up with right now. Maybe when it cools down later I’ll think of something else. In the meantime, here’s to hoping that it cools down soon so I can stop being so useless.