I have not blogged since we arrived at this school (Rukonga Vision School in Divundu) because we got here to find that many of the supplies were not here yet, including much of the furniture and all the computers and the wireless stuff. Still we have no more furniture, only enough desks and chairs for the classes. Our flat has only what is built in and no refrigerator. We are supposed to have one and keep requesting one, and they keep saying they will get right on it. A few days ago we found plastic chairs at the little store where we shop, and we got all excited and bought two. It was pretty funny. I never thought I’d treasure a little plastic chair!
It has been a difficult few days. Things are going great some of the time, then suddenly things kind of go awry. I haven’t had any significant depression, just some crankiness. The latest headache is the water. I got up to take a shower Sunday, turned on the water, and just as I hopped in the water slowed to a trickle and went off (the whole school). By afternoon it was back on. So Monday morning I tried again and exactly the same thing happened This time it went off Monday morning and just came on an hour ago. (This is Tuesday evening). I was planning with one of my co-teachers, so came home looking forward to a shower, only to find there were no lights!!! I showered by flashlight!!
Okay, I have got myself to laugh. The 11th grade English assignment has them learn the expression “the wheels came off.” That was tonight. There is lots to love about this place. The people in particular. I am working with two teachers: one for two eighth grade English classses, and one for four 11th grade English. My job seems to be to help them to start to use what they call “student-centered learning.” Pretty much what we call cooperative learning. I am so glad I did not give away my Kagan Cooperative Learning book. I am having real fun just doing little interactive things in class. No big projects yet.
I am in 8C and 8D and a girl from 8B asked if she could get into our class because we did such fun things. My two cooperating teachers are both EXCELLENT teachers. I am really impressed. The 8th grade teacher just naturally is already doing a lot of small learner centered things and really only needs me to say, “yes, let’s do that.” The 11th grade teacher is more traditional, stand in front of the class (although she circulates really well). But she is really anxious to try new things and open to everything. I just love her! She’s going to teach me how to make “fat cakes” which are so good freshly fried. I think they are something like the fried bread you get in Alaska, but they are round. I’ll have to have some “fry bread” when I get home to compare.
The students are wonderful. They are all real sweeties. Even their mischief is so innocent and cute. And some are really sharp. The biggest problem is getting them to participate in class. They talk very softly if at all. I’m hoping the smaller group things will get them going. Our flat is attached to one of the girls’ hostels. We are on the second floor with the 11th graders. 8th graders are downstairs. Under us will be the “matron”, who, I think, is the school nurse. That person is not here yet, however, so they make a lot of trips to the local clinic which she could probably handle.
Last Friday Rachel, my roommate and WorldTeach colleague, and I went in to the nearest town, Rundu, which is 200 km to the west of us. We met a former volunteer who was here visiting for a week. He dropped us there on his way back to Windhoek and home. We had to open bank accounts in order to get a tax i.d. number, in order to be paid. (When I say paid, I mean we get enough to hopefully eat for the month. We are really volunteers.) Anyway, we needed a paper from the ministry of education saying that we are indeed employed and where. They were quite helpful at the ministry, but their copy machine was not working and we had to get copies of our passports stamped by the police to make them official. The ministry actually lent us a very nice young man to drive us around and get everything. We got to the bank at 9:00 a.m. and had bank accounts by 3:30 p.m. And what a hot, hot day (they seem to be getting hotter and the rain seems to be over). So we did not get to do any shopping. We went to catch a “combi” home. A combi is a van bus. They all sit in a lot. You go around finding one going where you want, and try to pick the fullest, because there is no schedule. They only leave when they are full. We found one that we filled up, so left fairly expeditiously. The van pulls a little trailer where they carry luggage or supplies. They drive fast, but stop a lot. We were full, but still picked up about four more people at various places along the road. WE went off the main road onto a back road. I don’t know how they knew where to stop to drop things off, but they did. However, a two-hour trip by car took us five hours! It was dark before we got home, which is scary because there are so many animals on the road (cows, goats, and donkeys). It was so beautiful, though, and the sunset was spectacular. I didn’t get any pictures because it was so bumpy (and I may have forgot my camera) but I will.
I apologize for not getting pictures up yet. We still don’t have wireless here, so I am using a thing called a “netman.” It puts us through the phone line, somehow. Anyway, it is very slow, and prepaid. It costs a lot (relatively) to do pictures and takes forever. As soon as wireless is installed, i promise pictures.
The former volunteer who was in Divundu visiting for a week, Scott Karrel, took us out to dinner one night to a resort called Divava. What a gorgeous place. We had a gourmet meal overlooking the Okavango River. For a bit we had a spectacular thunderstorm, but it was over quickly. Rachel and I have decided we’ll have to treat ourselves every so often.
It is getting late, so I am going to sign off. Thanks all who read this. And thanks for all the birthday emails. Pictures soon, I hope.