We are Not at Home
6 March 2003
Well, what can I say, we are still
over here teaching away at Ekulo SSS. I
mean, except of course for the fact that we are in Africa, our lives are pretty
normal. Is it interesting to read
about our experiences here? I
wonder. Everyday, all the time, I
do think about how I am not at home. It
is quite an experience to be transplanted into a new culture. And so I hope that the messages sent give a useful insight
into something novel. I guess it
just feels weird sending out a Christmas type form letter every week, oh well.
Teaching is turning out to be quite a challenge.
It really is taking everything for me to get through the days.
Everyday after the last class is done and all of the learners are gone to
lunch I just sit in the corner of my empty room and rest.
Eventually I get up and clean the blackboard, washing away the fine white
dust, the evidence of seven periods of battles won and lost.
Ah, no more classes until seven a.m. tomorrow!
But don’t get the wrong idea, I like my job a lot, it’s just that it
and I have one of those love/hate relationships.
I love teaching my learners; seeing them eagerly grasp the ideas I
present to them, standing in front of them at the beginning of class and booming
at them to sit and listen, trying to teach them while they read the paper or
sleep, oh I hate wondering if they know anything new or if I just confused them.
I love teaching math and science, at the end of these two years I will be
an expert, it’s so fun to learn all of this stuff again and try to explain it
in class, yeah I know enough about magnetism to teach it, oh wait, no I don’t,
let me just read these crappy books to refresh my memory, oh I wonder when the
hell the new physical science teacher will get here.
The Peace Corps warned us about
the intense emotional ups and downs we would encounter during our time as
volunteers; so far my experience as teacher has born out the truth in this
warning. What I didn’t expect
though is the juxtaposition of the high and the low.
I feel so full of energy and hope when I sit down to plan my lessons.
I am bound and determined to know the material cold and plan out the
whole unit down to the last perfect example.
But by the time I need to go to bed I haven’t done anything but get
bogged down by every detail and I am fighting just to scrape together enough to
get through the next day.
* * *
I keep waiting for life to get boring around
here—but I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.
There’s just too many weird things.
Here are a few of this week’s highlights:
Sunday—I dream it is raining frozen peas.
Monday—A visiting German “theater group”
performs a very abstract play involving a lot of shoes.
Even Zac and I, who have experienced a lot of very abstract performances
during our Wexner Center ushering days, could not deduce any semblance of
meaning from it. I ask my learners
to tell me what the drama was about—but they were as baffled as me.
Only one girl says, with suspicion, “I think the drama was about them
colonizing us.” This leads to a
tirade against the Germans who colonized Namibia.
If nothing else, these kids know their history.
Tuesday—Somehow, and I am still not sure how this
happened, I sing the Star Spangled Banner to my 9th graders.
Now, I don’t sing. I have been officially banned from singing by everyone who
knows me. I especially cannot sing
our national anthem. Yet there I
was, singing it before 34 Namibian 9th graders.
A kid in the back of the room places a giant bug on
his head. Jokingly, I ask, “Are
you going to eat it?” Another boy
from across the room comes, snatches the bug off his head and brings it up to
me. He cracks the wings off the
live bug, squeezes so the innards squirt out—then pops them into his mouth and
Wednesday—The grade 9 English book comes with a
listening cassette. At the end of
the unit on trees, there is a silly little children’s choir song about saving
trees. I play it for the learners,
thinking they will find it stupid as well, then we can move on. But no. They
love it, start dancing in their chairs, and have me read the lyrics to the song
so they can meticulously copy them down. Then,
for the rest of the period, I play the song again and again while they sing
along. Luckily, they are very good
singers, but I still never want to hear that song again for the rest of my life.
Thursday—They’re still singing that stupid tree
Friday—Zac is going to the Ongwediva teacher
college for a math workshop, so he’ll send this e-mail out then. You’ll just have to wait until next week to learn about
what weird thing is going to happen on Friday.
Have a great weekend!
Love always, Sera