Monday, October 26, 2009

Overdose- two in one day!

In an effort to keep my goal of shorter blogs, I’m posting 2 :)
I just can’t seem to get the goal of blogging more often to come to fruition.

KWISHURI- Students are back at school after it being shut down all of last week. “Why? Swine Flue.” (In the words of my principal). Yes, swine flu has entered the country of Rwanda, and we had a few cases among students here. While school was shut down by the Minister of Health, there was a testing site on campus so families could come in and find out who had swine flu. (I had a cold so I was a bit dramatic and went to get tested- came back negative :) )
In other school news, I’m supposed to hire and train 4 reading tutors in the next 3 weeks…pray for applicants.

MURUGO- I’m reading God Work by Randy Harris right now, and I just want to say how elementary school teachers and librarians can tell you that reading a book is like traveling to another place/time- it’s true! I spend the 15 minute Silent Sustained Reading time we have at school and I literally feel like I’m in Abilene, Texas. He’s not really describing the surroundings, so it isn’t quite a visualizing thing…it is more of a mindset. The thoughts I’m having and experiences I’m relating it to make me feel like I’m in a class at ACU again…it is such a “homey” feeling.

NDUMIWE! I’m shocked because I found something incredible. We have a small bedroom on our house we didn’t know about!! When I get around to the picture tour of our house it will for sure be included. I LOVE special “areas”…I’m kind of a spatial person…and I haven’t found any exceptional places in our house yet (especially because I can’t hang up the hammock! uhhh). So, you can imagine that after living in a house for a month I was quite surprised and elated to find this wonderful little room :)

UMUGABO- I’m still pretending that Alpha is my boyfriend, despite the fact that he doesn’t even know my name. He pantomimed for me to call him, so I’m sure it’s love. Now, if I can only track down his digits…

KURIRIMBE- I’ve partially joined an Anglican choir. For anyone who knows me, this is really ridiculous. My accomplice, ishumi Cady, is a full-fledged robe-wearing member. I’m what I consider a participant. We go to practices on Friday, bible study and practice on Saturday, and then early for service on Sunday…and honestly this doesn’t feel like too much commitment- it is the best part of the week! I don’t want to get up in front of the church and sing…so I offered to be a part-time power point slide clicker.

A Few Firsts

I’m going to write this first so that I hold myself to it- I’m going to take a picture tour of our house and post it. (I’ve been waiting until the house looks ready and we situate rooms how they will be, but I’ve just gotta go ahead and do it.)

I wrote an email to some of my friends listing some “firsts” I’ve had since being in Rwanda…so I’m going to include a couple of them here:

-Its my first time to have my own office

-I taught teachers for the first time a few weeks ago. Definitely there were mistakes made-like the fact that I covered way too much in way too short of time using way too complicated terminology and talking way too fast for people who don't
know English that well. But in other aspects it was successful. The electricity went out right before we were about to start and I was SO upset, but then it came back on and I was able to use the powerpoint I had spent a week putting together. Bonus first: using a chalkboard!

-A few weeks ago was "Teacher's Week" so we had soda and cake as a faculty.
They requested that the teacher who had served the longest and the newest teacher be the ones to cut the cake. So, that meant me! I've never cut a cake for an event before. Also, there weren't any cameras or anything, so it felt like we were trying to "create a moment" or something when it really wasn't a big deal. It felt good though- I felt like a part of the team.

-Not last and not least, I have had official quote from the head of the school that he will "make it a point" to introduce me to the First Lady :) That's probably the highest "First" there could be right!(She's on our school board and a very influential person in thecountry!)

-Another incredibly entertaining first is that I was on TV! (Ok- once in elementary school my figure skating was on the public access channel, but that doesn’t count.) A Rwandan won Tusker Project Fame, which is like American Idol for East Africa…and my friend and I went to the welcoming at the airport and a short performance. We were interviewed on Rwanda TV and East Africa TV and Contact FM Radio! Plus, I ended up in a music video too. It is so hilarious. The students and teachers and all my friends keep talking about seeing us on TV...So embarrassing, but fun too!
I also bought a second hand tiny TV with rabbit ears for $100, but it doesn’t work. And all that for only one channel!

That’s my news for now! Please pray for the right reading teaching assistants to turn up and for patience too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Whole New World

I figure 3 weeks isn't as long as I went last this still counts as improvement!
I'm back in Kigali. Everything is the same, but everything has changed! On one hand, I really feel at home being back in this city. And on the other hand, I'm working at a new school, living in a new house, and starting over with getting used to things that are different.

I'm so happy to be living a less "muzungu" life this year. I'm able to interact so much more with Rwandan people and culture every day! Of course it makes a difference that I work with very very few American colleagues or students. But besides that, let me give an example by contrasting how I get to and from school each day.

Last year: my friend and I shared a car. We drove out of our gate, passing only minimal people in our unpopulated neighborhood. 8 minutes later we arrived at school, greeted the guards, and went to our classrooms.

This year: I walk up a steep dirt hill, pass a few small shops (too early for the PRECIOUS babies to be out! They run up and hug me every time!), pass a church building where people are singing, and as I turn the corner the bike taxis at the top of the hill start raising their hands and patting their seats. I walk up, checking my list of taxi #s (So I switch who I use) and call out the # of the day in kinyarwanda. I then hop on and ride about 5 minutes to "Sonatube" where I greet the MTN airtime salesman who is always standing on the corner in a ripped up yellow jump suit. (His name is Innocent). Then, I get on a bus! I usually read over Kinyarwanda notes or chat with another teacher for the approx 20 min ride to school.

Our house in Kicukiro is great. You might not think it after reading these descriptions: electricity goes out more often, bucket showers are about all I'm getting, it is basically a cockroach hotel, my bedroom is actually the "help's" room, and worst of all it is terribly far from the main road. However, it is wonderful. (I'm finally experiencing culture shock, and this is most definitely the "honeymoon" phase!)

Of course with so much going on, there is always more to tell...but for now I'll just ask for prayers because tomorrow I'm teaching a session on reading to primary school teachers. I was kind of thrown this job, or "opportunity", last week and have found it very challenging to attempt to teach "Reading"(vague!) to teachers coming from many backgrounds and that I barely know.