Wednesday, September 27, 2006

..."a get fresh cool"...

What I'm trying to say is, "I have a cold." (sounding it out in Krio it's a little like "ah get fresh cool")

I'm not molding, but I may as well least it's sunny out now. :)

So I have a few random thoughts to share with some folks back home...

Kyla Smith, I laughed a lot during my last Krio class only no one got the joke. If you'd been there I know you would have. We were learning how to say "a man" in Krio (particularly one you don't know) and in Krio you say it like "wan man" (pronounced a little like "one man"). So I thought of you, friend. And I laughed. Have you found it on DVD yet??

Lindsay Cooper and Jen Keenliside, HELP ME!! I'm teaching grade 8 geography and I'm at a loss...considering I dropped geography as soon as I could after grade 9, I'm dying. Today we talked about the difference between climate and weather ("Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get") and tomorrow, joy of all joys, we'll be discussing the three different types of rain (convectional, orographic, and frontal). We've already covered plate tectonics, the structure of the earth and we're ploughing full speed ahead into the greenhouse effect, horse winds, trade winds, the Coriolis effect...and stuff about gases that makes my brain hurt. Can't we just study dead people???

Finally, for those literature and polisci buffs out there (you know who you are), my grade 8s (who are quite brilliant, generally) have been reading George Orwell's Animal Farm. I was doing some back ground reading on some of the ideas in the novel, and I was struck by one that went something like "Orwell suggests that we cannot eliminate government corruption by electing principled individuals to roles of power; he reminds us throughout the novella that it is power itself that corrupts." An interesting idea, especially while I'm here in Sierra Leone, surrounded by blatant corruption on a daily basis...also interesting considering there is an election coming up in July 2007. (yes, campaigning has begun!)

That's all for now friends, hope you're well.

Thanks for commenting.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

...I love the rainy season...

It rained most of the day on Sunday. It rained all day on Monday. I needed a change of clothes when I got to school in the morning. I only had an extra shirt.

My knapsack is growing mold.

My money belt is growing mold.

I'm not sure, but I might be molding too. I'll get back to you...

Despite the rain, I managed to make it out to an interesting service on Sunday morning. It was an "Africana" service at a church in Brookfield - the service celebrated all of the different tribes represented in the church (Temne, Mende, Limba, Krio, Madingo, etc...) and each group told a story from their culture and performed a short musical presentation. Amazingly, the sermon was only 15 minutes long. It was a neat experience. It's too bad that I forgot to bring my camera. I've got to start carrying it around with me more places!

In other news: Did you know that it's October this weekend???!!! Where did September go?

I must be having fun!

Monday, September 18, 2006

...from one side of the spectrum to the other...

As per usual, the weekend was good. Sunday was a peculiar day for a number of reasons, but I think the most dissonant of experiences was the clashing of worlds I encountered as I flew through the day.

I went to church in the morning - Anglican Sunday again, but I couldn't understand a word of what was going on in the sermon. Not to worry, it will get better. After church I headed to Congo Cross (a round about point in Freetown where one can catch and take taxis) which is where her office for Rainbows of Hope is located. I dropped of some of my things for the beach there and then caught a taxi to Montana Gardens, a restaurant on Wilkinson Road. Adama and I had a bite to eat there and then we went to rendevous with Mohammed, an amputee who was a member of the Freetong Players and who I met when I was in Freetown in 2005. Mohammed lives as the majority of Sierra Leoneans do - in a small hut with a corrugated iron roof held down by rocks, and bamboo strips woven together to form walls. He protects agains mold, insects and the elements by lining the hut with vinyl sheeting. There were two rooms in his home, a bed, and three chairs, no electricity or running water. It started to rain just as we were leaving, so we didn't get to see whether water would drip through the roof, but I have no doubt that he gets very wet, and often, during the rainy season.

After our brief visit with Mohammed, Adama and I caught a taxi to her apartment in PZ which boasts a far better set of living conditions for the four individuals who live there. There are two floors, two bathrooms (no running water though and no real showers) a living room, three bedrooms, a kitchen and when they have electricity, a TV and DVD player. Adama and her family have relatives overseas.

I spent a few hours with Adama trying to sort out some banking business (nightmare) and then I caught another taxi back to Congo Cross to meet up with Hanneke and some friends again to go to the beach. We spent a rainy afternoon at Lumley, but still managed to have fun and get some swimming in to boot! We were an eclectic bunch by the water - a couple of native Sierra Leoneans, a handful of wealthy Lebanese, and a group of white NGO-workers from various developed countries. A new meaning to the phrase "cultural mosaic."

As the sun began to sink behind the horizon, we headed back to the Rainbows of Hope office where I sat with Sylvanus and ate some of his chicken and rice. We talked about cultural was interesting. Around 8:30pm we set out to our final destination for the day - a man named Ibrahim's opulent palace. I kid you not. Seriously. Not only was the place enormous, complete with double balcony, kitchen, dining room, living room, guest room, bedroom, and bathroom...there was wall to wall marble and mahogany. Oh yeah, there was also a jaccuzi. No, I didn't use it. I can't believe a place like that exists here...The man has made his money honestly - he's in real estate, and owns quite a bit of property. (this is what I choose to believe as well).

Anyway, this is quite long. If you made it this far, I commend you.

Can't believe it's almost Thursday....

Friday, September 15, 2006

...the place I call home...

FINALLY!! This is my friend Adama. She and her family have adopted me (at least for Sunday afternoons) while I'm in Salone. I took this photo on the porch or her very high apartment building.
This is what I like to call my "reading corner." I do a lot of my lesson planning here on the weekends and when I get home from school. There's more light than in my bedroom because of the plethora of windows. (isn't plethora a great word?)
For those of you who have lived with me, you'll find that this picture feels oddly familiar. I like to try to create my own space and a "me" kind of feeling - even in a foreign country!
This is my bed...above are some pictures from home. I have more over my desk. I have taken a photo of that, but somehow it didn't make it onto this disk. A photo for another time. You can see if you made it on to my wall of fame!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

...long awaited photos...

This is the "reading corner." There are some pillows and books by the window on the left that you can't see...students do independent reading there during English Literature classes when I have split levels (6/7)
Also, check out the "homework board" on the right...yep, I'm just that anal retentive. :)
This is my classroom. I have 6 students at the moment in my homeroom (grades 6-8)
My bulletin board for social studies...*sigh* I'm so proud...

...just another manic Monday...

..."oh, oh, oh....wish it was Sunday...cuz that's my fun day..."

This is my new theme song. I don't know who it's by, or where it's from, but as long as I love's all that matters. Hahaha. I make myself laugh (someone's gotta...)


Ok, so the weekend was great, as seems to be the tradition thus far. Friday night we had dinner at my house (late, around 8pm) with people from Rainbows of Hope and Justin, the other new teacher at the school. I passed on the invitation to go dancing (I know, but I needed sleep!!) which I think was a good decision because they didn't end up getting back until 5am! Ugh! I was happy to be in my bed (although less happy about being woken up...but c'est la vie). On an unrelated note, I get up at 5:45am every morning. I KNOW, I'm as shocked as you are. Luckily, I'm the only one up at that hour and I don't actually have to interact with anyone until I get to 7:30am...hmmm....I have continued my tradition of coffee in the mornings.

Saturday I spent the day lesson planning and used up the last of my laptop battery. Luckily we got light on Saturday night and I could recharge it. (yes, that's right, we don't have light on a regular basis. I do a lot by candlelight as it is pitch black by 7:45pm.) I went to PZ (an area in town - downtown, I suppose you could call it) to visit Adama and spent the night at her apartment there. We went to a relative's birthday party which was another fantastic Sierra Leonean experience complete with loud speakers, and Emcee, dance performances by 3 sisters, and some good food. Adama and I were 'escorted' home by Alimamy one of the boys that lives in her apartment so that we'd be safe in the dark. I'm sure you can imagine how needing an escort really appeals to my sense of independence. *wince*

Sunday was rainy. I had breakfast with Adama and her mother and then we headed to my place in between downpours. I spent the afternoon napping and then talked to my friend Aroun who made it back to Bo (a city east of Freetown) alive after a brief visit in Freetown. I pretended to do some more lesson planning in the evening, but spent most of the night writing in my journal by candlelight. Sooooooo romantic, just me and my leather-bound book...

And now, it's Monday. My lessons are finished for the day and I've had a few minutes to catch up on some internet-time. Our satellite was down all of Friday so it's been a while. Sorry! And speaking about lessons, I need to get back to some planning for the rest of the week. Tuesday night is the school's Open House night - parents will be coming to check out the new teachers, take a look at the curriculum and just generally wander about the school. I still need to put some finishing touches on my bulletin boards and make sure I'm ready to meet the people!

Hope you're all well. What's new and exciting for you?

Monday, September 04, 2006

...What a weekend! Oh, and school started too...

So I had a very random, very fun weekend. I didn't do too much on Saturday afternoon other than some lesson planning additonal "teacherish" things, but come Saturday night, I had a jam-packed weekend! It started with dinner at Mamba Point - a restaurant that is frequented by a number of ex-pats, Lebanese business people, and wealthy Sierra Leoneans. I went with Hanneke, my new housemate, and we met a few new friends from different NGOs. After dinner, we went out on the town with one of Hanneke's colleagues, Sylvanus, and his friend Mamood. First, we crashed the after-party of a Lebanese wedding at Atlantic, a club on Lumley beach. Then we headed to "Buggy's" which was, well, a little sketchy. And finally, to finish off the night in grand style, we went to "Padi's" (which means "Friend" in Krio) where they played "African Queen" towards the end of the night. It was a riot. Not only did the evening include much dancing (and incidentally, much more sweating) but also, music blasted at piercing levels from the back of a jeep, a shirtless Lebanese man (what do you do when your shirt is drenched with sweat? Take it off and let it fly out the sunroof, of course!), and a lot of Coca-Cola. Definitely a crazy-I-can't-believe-we're-out-in-Freetown kind of a night.

On Sunday morning Hanneke and I dragged ourselves out of bed and made it to church. The church we went to is near to my school and is called St. Augustine's. Apparently, it is less formal than most other churches in Sierra it turned out, it was "Anglican Sunday" (as opposed to "Methodist Sunday" which is next week) so I fit right in. There was a point in the 45-minute sermon where it was difficult to keep my eyes open, but we made it through...two hours later. After church I went home to have some lunch, try to figure out some plans with Adama and Aroun (which never panned out - bah!) and take a bit of a nap. When Hanneke came home from lunch, we packed up our things and headed to the beach. I'm not sure which was a crazier experience, the beach, or our night on the town. The beach trip included, officially meeting the couple whose wedding we had crashed the night before, driving down Lumley beach road in a red convertible (Hanneke was driving...), hanging out with Justin, Mamood, Sylvanus...and some other people who I can't remember the names of, a lot of trying to make myself understood in Krio, and now, Arabic, and of course swimming in the ocean! Phew! Amid all of that activity I didn't get a chance to get nervous about school starting on Monday.

As for my first day was a breeze! I suppose it would be when you only have three students. Actually, I had three students for home room, and then 1 student for Literature and 2 more for Social Studies. We had a blast...although, tomorrow we'll need to get down to some actual teachin'...I'm looking forward to it.

Oh, and I'm still alive. Please continue to not freak out (even though my stories are a little dodgy at times...)

Missing you, and missing being understoond (plus, missing being funny...*sigh* Have to work on becoming funny in Krio...nar so?)