Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Salone Update :)

Hello again! Since my last post, things have been going smoothly. Training is going well, lots of sessions on technical aspects of teaching and cultural differences, fun fun. Last week I taught for the first time to a group of other PCTs during our first Peer Teach. It was a 25 minute lesson and the topic I taught on was parts of the cell, so surprising right? After we received feedback from our peers and tech trainers we took that same lesson to an actual school for our first micro teach. I taught at a junior secondary school (middle school equivalent in the U.S.) to a class of about 20 students. We were supposed to have three PCTs in our group of teachers, one for each subject (math, science and English). Unfortunately one of the girls in my group was sick that day so Michele and I taught an impromptu English lesson on writing directions. Flexibility, one of the PC core qualities at work my friends. Teaching was really fun and I’m excited to write lesson plans and get ready for our next peer teach this week and upcoming summer school later on in training. It’s really nice to be excited about teaching, it was one of the things that I was most nervous about. Not that I’m not still apprehensive about teaching on my own, but I definitely think that I will be able to handle it, and that is reassuring.

The host family situation is great. I found out after two weeks that my little sister’s name is not Junior two as I had thought, but Jeyatu which makes a whole lot more sense. Don’t judge me, it sounds really similar and when I repeated it after they told me initially, my family did not correct me. My Krio is coming along slowly but surely, we’ve finished all of our language sessions in Krio so hopefully I will continue to get better through practice with my family and when I’m out in Makeni.  I’m already using it when I’m in the market which is really fun. On Sunday a group of us went to buy some lapas to be made into clothes. A lapa is just 2 yards of fabric that you can either wrap around you as a make shift skirt or take to a tailor to have something made out 0f it. Shopping in the market is fun and I’m getting good at bargaining. Because I’m an ‘opoto’ I’m consistently overcharged and so I have to talk them down. It involves a lot of loud exclamations and explanations that “mi na pisco ticha, mi no get boco moni dem.” I’m not to the point where I get the local price, but I’m not being ridiculously overcharged, so I’m making progress.  

We get to find out our sites this week so that suspense has been driving us all crazy. I’m really looking forward to knowing what subject I’m going to be teaching, what part of the country I’ll be in, what new local language I’ll be learning and what other PCVs I’ll be by. Hopefully we find out tomorrow, that would be amazing.

To summarize the last few weeks, I’ve developed a crap ton more freckles (but just on my arms and face, my legs are severely white due to the dress code here) I’ve been able to start eating more local food without fear of deathly sickness, and I’ve accepted the fact that I will go through daily mood swings about being here.  Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers, they’ve been much appreciated. Love and miss you all!  

Monday, June 13, 2011

I made it!

I have officially been in Salone for 12 days, but time passes so differently here, I feel like I said my goodbyes a month ago. Staging in Chicago was great, all of us PCTs (peace corps trainees) met for the first time and a lot of awkward small talk was exchanged. For our last night in the States we broke off into groups and went to dinner (with money the PC gave us, awesome). The group I was with went to a nice Italian restaurant and I had a fantastic ‘last meal’ which consisted of a breaded pork chop seriously covering my entire plate and a delicious arugula and tomato salad.  Oh and wine of course.  The next day was all about getting our yellow fever vaccinations (the first of many, many shots) and getting to the airport. Then it was the eight hour flight to Brussels which left an hour and half later then scheduled a quick dash across the Brussels airport to catch our plane to Banjul and then finally we landed at the Lungi airport after a solid day of traveling. We were greeted by the media, Peace Corps staff and oh yes, the wonderful heat that is characteristic of Salone. Craziness then ensued as we all located our bags and packed them and ourselves onto three buses to be taxied to the ferry which would take us to Freetown. From the ferry we took the buses to our hostel, dragged all of our heavy bags up four flights of stairs and then fell into bed, completely exhausted.

The next few days were spent in Freetown, within the compounds of the hostel adjacent to the national stadium. The days were spent in meetings but at night there were dance parties aplenty. On Monday our group was able to meet the Vice President decked out in traditional African clothes that the Ministry of Education had made for us. I completely destroyed my outfit in true Christina style. First I ripped my skirt attempting to jump into the back of the jeeps that were taking us back to the hotel. Then, this is a great diplomatic move, I thought it would be a good idea to get a massive nose bleed in the middle of the luncheon sponsored by the Ministry of Education. I just cannot handle having nice things. 

 On Tuesday we departed for Makeni, our training site for the next 10 weeks. We were squished onto buses for the three hour ride to Makeni, the fifth largest city in Sierra Leone. We arrived to music, dancing, and a magician of sorts performing, pretty sweet. We were able to meet our host families and head home with them. My host family is amazing. I have a mom (Mama Sue) who is so sweet. I also have a younger brother, Junior who is 17 and a younger sister Junior Two who is 12. They are so great to me.

So now I am a week into training and already feeling the rollercoaster of emotions. There are parts of the day when I am so grateful to be having this experience, like when Mama Sue gets so excited that I’m washing my clothes correctly (they call it “brooking” here). But there are also times of the day when I really want to go home, like when I found out that I take my bucket bath in the same place where half of the compound goes to the bathroom. You learn to just take it day by day, minute by minute and I know that everyone else here is going through the same thing, so there’s always someone to talk to.

A quick shoutout to my wonderful friend Emily and her fantastic brother Micheal on today their birthday! Love you and hope you are doing splendidly! Also, Dad, happy birthday tomorrow!
Love and miss you all!