Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

mercredi, septembre 13, 2006

Ecole Pratique (September 8, 2006)

Today was the last day of Practice School. Over the three weeks, I taught two different sessions. The first was a one week period where each volunteer had two classes a day for one hour. The second period covered the remaining two weeks and classes each were two hours long. During this period, only one class was taught a day so I alternated the class I taught every day. A few observations:
· Teaching in French is a good challenge (especially when some of the kids don’t speak French). I have learned a lot of math specific vocabulary but still find myself talking in huge circles to explain things.
· Lesson planning in French takes much more time.
· Lesson planning by hand is even more time consuming.
· Classrooms without electricity. If it is dark outside due to a storm almost no one can see their paper.
· Kids are kids. Some want to be there and learn, others find school a relaxing alternative to working in the fields.
· Students have been trained to all rise when the teacher walks into the room. This annoys me to no end. Respect or a power stamp? I ended up getting to class before the students to avoid this.
· Open windows along the side of the class are good places for spectators to hang out (or for other students to check on their friends).
· Students are not used to giving their opinion or critically thinking about why they are learning a topic. The teacher is seen as the sage on the stage.
· A photocopier would be nice on test days.

My class sizes hovered around 30, with several absences a day. Life could be a little different at site if that number doubles or triples. I am looking forward to the start of the school year. Tomorrow, there is a ceremony where the top students from every class will be recognized.