Wednesday, December 27, 2006 this is christmas...

and what have I done? well....

we had a 'block' party for the kids in our community. here are some pics...we played "dog, dog, pus" (an African adaptation of "Duck, Duck, Goose") and "What time is it, Mr. Wolf." (How mus o'clock, mista wolf?).
Heleen read the Christmas story and then the kids got to colour in a picture....we also made paper chains and ate some food while listening to my aptly named "cheesy and fun christmas" music.
Oh yes, I wanted to share this picture of a small girl in heels (not me). She's like, 3 maybe? Whoa. Plus, she can dance better than me. I feel so inadequate...
I also moved rooms...I felt that enough time had passed after Hanneke left and then I took over her old room. I needed to give the room some space. I do like what I've done with the place. Have a look.

I love this keyboard. It helps to keep me sane.

I spent most of last week working on the Ethics Proposal I need to complete for the research I intend to do this coming summer. It's riveting work, really. In between, I found time to decorate my friend Kevin's apartment with festive lights... it's a bird apparently.

More Christmasey photos to follow...I just haven't uploaded and saved them yet. On Saturday night we had a gathering at Kevin's apartment and hilarity ensued. It was a good time (thanks, Kev!) Then on Sunday, my friend Meghan came over and we decorated the 'tree' that Janet and Suliman had put together. Wait until you see it...I was so impressed. (and that means a lot) On Monday we made Thai food (delicious!) and had some folks over for dinner. All 'round, it was the least stressful Christmas I've ever had in my life. I did miss the Christmasey things of home, though...and family and friends. Thanks for keeping in touch. You all mean a lot to me.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

...only on shirts in Freetown...

"The one who desires to be known by others does not yet know himself."
That's what I saw written on a man's t-shirt this morning on my way to school. It made me think a fact, I might even use it as a conversation starter with my students. Not that they really need any help in starting conversations...they're quite loquacious. My kind of people, really. I love my students! Yes, they annoy me sometimes. Yes, there are days when I want to kill them, but generally, they make me laugh and I care about how they are doing. Sometimes, it's good to be a teacher.
Sometimes it's a little harder. One of my students asked me some hard questions yesterday that I stumbled and bumbled out answers for. The first question was "If Africans and Europeans started out at the same place in terms of development (thousands of years ago) why are Europeans so far ahead of Africans now?" ...and the second, "Why do Europeans think they're so much better than Africans?" Egad. What would you have said?
Onto lighter subjects: Last night I was told that I'm a very serious person. In fact, that I never seem to laugh and that it is very difficult to make me laugh. This isn't the first time I've heard this very statement since I've been here. I've never heard this at home.
So my question is this: Really? Am I a hard person to make laugh? Because I never knew that true?
And finally, thanks Titus for introducing me to I am now obsessed. If I'm ever lacking a source for procrastination, I can rely on Titus to pull through for me (and on many other things over and above procrastination, I must add). Join. Search. Connect.
(I should be a paid for this).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

...'Twas the week before Christmas Break...

...and all through the school, not a student was focused, not even at all!

But then again, neither am I, so really, how can I blame them? I can't wait for Friday! Not only that, but I can't believe how quickly time has passed. I have almost been here for 4 months!

Christmas holidays do come with a price, however. I have to finish my ethics application for my thesis research (hmmm....right...) and I need to plan some units for next term as well. Actually, I'm looking forward to next term, I'm having the school order some documentaries and DVDs on Joan of Arc, the Salem Witch Trials and "The Crucible." I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty stoked! Plus, I'm going to be teaching a unit on religion - specifically looking at the "top 5" - Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Ooooohhhh, and to top it all off, I just asked if I could teach some "health education" to my students so I'm pulling together a 'comprehensive' unit on that. I know, it's kind of sad what gets me excited...

Highlights from the weekend: my first trip to Burreh Beach which is, of course, beautiful. No pictures, I forgot my camera. Also, Justin hosted dinner on Saturday night - we had Tacos! I swear I haven't had tacos since my days with CITC...mmmm...good times. We were supposed to watch "Love Actually" as well, but my 'American' DVD wouldn't work in a UK machine. Stupid compatibility. We're going to try again this weekend (with another dvd player, obviously). Hopefully it will get us in a more "festive" mood. It doesn't feel like Christmas around here.

Other things to look forward to this week:

1. Movie Night tonight at Mamba Point - we're watching "Whale Rider"
2. Carol Service and Reception at British High Commission on Thursday night (I've got an 'in' at the Commission)
3. the end of school (noon on Friday!)
4. Actually watching "Love, Actually." On Saturday, actually.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

...hello harmattan...

The Doctor is in.

"The Harmattan is a dry and dusty wind blowing northeast and west off the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea between November and March (winter). It is considered a Natural Hazard.

On its passage over the desert it picks up fine dust particles (between 0.5 and 10 micrometres). When the Harmattan blows hard, it can push dust and sand all the way to South America. In some countries in West Africa, the heavy amount of dust in the air can severely limit visibility and block the sun for several days, comparable to a heavy fog. The effect caused by the dust and sand stirred by these winds is known as the Harmattan Haze, and costs airlines millions in cancelled and diverted flights each year. In Niger, people say that men and animals become increasingly irritable when this wind has been blowing for a while, (that could explain a lot for me....) giving it a bad reputation. However, the cool wind brings relief from the oppressive heat, which is why the Harmattan has earned the nickname "The Doctor"".

(Thanks, Wikipedia for your definition! Wikipedia...always a reliable source - ok, this is definitely said "tongue-in-cheek" people, don't have a heart attack...)

Alright, in my actual reality, Harmattan feels dry and windy, but has thankfully cut the humidity in half. As opposed to previous months, I'm now using moisturizer, lip balm, and hair conditioner like it's going out of style. I wish I had a humidifier, but it wouldn't do me any good if I did since we don't actually have the electricity to run it.

In other news...


After weeks (ok, months) of rehearsals, we're finally putting on a show! Tonight AISF proudly presents, "The Emperor's New Clothes" a humourous adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale of a vain King and his obsession with the latest trend and fad. The music teacher, Mrs. Johnson has worked so hard with the students and they've really managed to pull it all together. I've been helping with staging, props, set, and just general direction. I'm in my element. I get to tell people what to do and where to go. How can I not love it?? Perhaps I should become a real director...