june

i’ve been super busy the last month – too busy to write blog entries – but i’ve tried to make up for it by uploading a bunch of stories today. check it out: gorillas, umuganda and shopping, kivu part two, the students. i have managed to keep the update page moderately updated, so don’t forget about that.

the second term is winding down now, with students taking exams and teachers frantically grading them. the water’s out again, but that’s nothing new. it’s finally dry season which means more dust and fewer showers. the month, in summary:

i went to the queen’s birthday party which was a big fancy affair with lots of free wine and elaborate cheese and ambassador-y people all dressed to the nines. fun, but made me very aware of being not english and not rich. met some cool rugby girls, one from australia the other british, who are going to start a rugby tournament at our school which amanda’s pretty psyched about.

i organized and participated in the second kivu writers’ workshop, this time in gisenyi in the north, which was an amazing success and made me wish for a moment that my job was to organize workshops all year long rather than teach.

i typed only six exams, my own, and helped the senior six students prepare for provincial exams. these are like a practice run for the national exams, which are ridiculously hard and full of unreasonable questions about obscure topics and are students’ only hopes of going to college. they start next week and all my students are going to bomb them.

amanda and i planned and amanda delivered an IT workshop for the teachers to show them how to enter the grades into the computer so that the two of us don’t have to do them all like we did last time. it was a moderate success because only eight teachers showed. this is because the director refused to make it obligatory. after much frustrating discussion, the strong hand of authority came down, arguing that teachers wouldn’t come anyway and in any case weren’t to be trusted with something as important as student report cards (they might change the grades to favor some students). the hand of authority came down again when he eliminated the review week from the calendar and started exam week early, arguing that teachers don’t do review anyway so we might as well skip it. and he was right- in the two days of review that we did have, amanda and i were the only teachers who actually went to class and the dean of teachers himself told us we didn’t have to. the students, on the other hand, were happy to have what review they could get.

i had serious problems with my senior six biology-chemistry track english class, which culminated in a conversation, in french, with four of them about how we can improve the class so that students don’t skip it and/or spend it studying other subjects. it seems they don’t like my style of teaching and would prefer to copy extensive notes about obscure grammar topics that they’ve already learned rather than practice speaking through actual discussions and class activities. i still haven’t figured this one out. all my other classes are going fantastically, with students engaged and responsive. in this one class they stare back at me with angry scorns and don’t do their homework. and they’re the ones with a national exam coming up. i haven’t solved it yet, and i’m fairly discouraged because of it, but i have a few ideas for next term so we’ll see.

i’ve been preparing for the arrival of my first visitor, the lovely and amazing sara michele sweetie-pie gentle, who will arrive on july 18th and spend the two-week vacation with me doing i-don’t-know-what-yet.

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~ by aliciawolcott on July 7, 2007.

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