Monday, November 12, 2012

Yet another brief update....

November 12, 2012

Life in the BF (Burkina Faso) never fails to be new and exciting every day.  I have so many stories I wish I could share, but of course there is never time (or electricity) for that, and plus they’re difficult to write about and explain, and they’d be so much better in person.  I’ll do my best to store my most memorable stories in my brain, or write about some of them in my journal, and type some up when I have electricity and am not bombarded with lessons to plan and test to correct, but hopefully someday, if there’s ever a dull moment in conversation, I can save the day with my, “One time, in Africa….”

School started the first week of October for me, and I’m teaching the same grade levels as last year, sixième and cinquième (basically 7th and 8th grade).  It’s nice to do something that I’ve already done and experienced now, and thus I am more relaxed and don’t have to spend as much time planning the lessons or writing tests since I’ll just replicate many of the things I did last year.  Plus this year, I can actually speak French well enough so that my students understand me….kinda.  haha.  Even if my French still isn’t great, it’s at least a thousand times better than last year, let’s just say that.  School thus far has been going fairly well, and most days I like it, though naturally I do have days when I hate all of the kids and can’t help but think that they are all stupid.  But then I remember it’s not their fault they can’t learn: they’re malnourished and can’t read and don’t understand French and are 14-years-old surrounded by 120 other teenagers in a small space with hormones raging and don’t have books, and their past teachers couldn’t teach worth a darn…. So while they might be lacking any signs of intelligence, it’s not their fault….and they are improving, petit à petit (little by little).  I currently have 236 tests waiting to be graded from the exams I gave last week, so for the moment, school kinda depresses me --- I hate correcting tests; it takes HOURS if not several days of nonstop grading --- and so I’ll move on to another topic.

Love life?  Non-existent, of course.  And that’s fine with me.  There’s been a few cute Burkinabe guys (educated, not villageoise i.e. from village and never went to school) and they work in/near my village as gendarmes (a mix between military and police), teachers, nurses at the clinic, etc.  I’ve been proposed to more times than I can count, had them buy me beers and grilled fish, gone dancing, been invited to celebrate holidays with them at their parents’ houses in the big cities and meet their mothers, rode in their cars, and other things that, upon reflection I realize, I’m totally taking advantage of them…but hey, if they want me to ride in an air-conditioned car to go get a cold drink and good food that’s not boiled flour paste and slimy leaf sauce, of course I’m going to accept.  Who in their right mind would say no?  Plus I’m sure they’re perfectly content just getting to hang out with me, thee jolie (pretty) American.  Gosh, I’ve turned into such a…player?...heartbreaker?...I dunno, but so it goes.

Post Peace Corps plans?  Yes, it is time for me to start thinking of that already.  Crazy.  Well, there’s not a lot to say, at the moment.  I don’t think I want to do a 3rd year any longer, but I may change my mind, depending on the next few months.  I believe I technically finish my service at the end of July or in August (close of service dates are flexible, plus or minus 30 days).  Thus, while I theoretically could be back in America before the start of the 2013-2014 school year, I’m not sure if I want a teaching job right away, nor do I want to go through the nightmare that is trying to research and apply for jobs from West Africa…urgh, not fun.  Plus, I would like to take a COS (close of service) trip to southeast Asia, which would then mean I won’t be back until September, and by then school has most definitely started.  Consequently, at the moment I think my game plan is to:

1. finish my service in August

2. take a 5-week COS trip: Thailand, Cambodia, The Philippines, possibly Australia, followed by Hawaii and then home sweet home ---- how’s that sound for awesomeness!?

3. get back to Minnesota around mid-September and stay with my parents through the holiday months (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), during which time I will:
                a. go shopping for new clothes, get a haircut, eat tons of yummy food, play in the fall leaves, etc.
b. substitute teach when I want to in/around Springfield area
c. travel around and spend time with family/friends (i.e. stay at my grandparents’ house for a week, road trip to Colorado to see my friend and village sitemate, Molly Morrison, etc.
d. volunteer my time to guest-speak at schools about Burkina Faso

4. figure out my real post Peace Corps plans and hopefully have a more legit game plan that will commence in January – somewhere to live, an actual job (though I can always continue substitute teaching if I don’t find anything), grad school?, haha I dunno.  I have no idea, really.  This is possibly the scariest of all the things I have to think about.  Deciding what I want to do: teach or not?, grad school, service or humanitarian work, something abroad again, another state, or close to my family/friends, find a place to live…urgh, it’s a lot to reflect upon, which is why I’ve decided I don’t want to deal with it while in the BF.  I feel like it would disrupt my PC service too much, and for the time being while I’m here, I want to focus on Africa, not on what I’m going to do back in America.  I’ll leave that for once I’m back and have gotten the chance to spend a bit of time with everyone who’s important to me.

What do you think?  Any feedback?  Anyone wanna donate their couches for me to come visit/live with them for a week?

My parents have undertaken a huge renovation project since I’ve been gone, which they’re hoping will be done when I get back.  They’ve added on a music room, an enclosed sunroom/porch with fireplace, finished basement, an office for my dad, a laundry room, double garage, and who knows what else.  I honestly don’t know much about it….just that it’s different.  Weird.  Our house is not even going to look remotely the same as I remember it.  Apparently the reasoning for the house update (according to my mom quoting my dad) is that, “The windows and siding all needed to be replaced anyways.  So we figured we might as well tear down a few walls as well.  Besides, in a few years people are going to be bringing other people home and there needs to be space for the grandkids…”  bahahahaah.  True, perhaps.  A lot can change in a couple of years.  But as far as I can tell, this will probably not be me bringing home grandkids, nor can I foresee Kevin or Erin doing that either.  And Katelyn, well heck, she’ll just be starting 8th grade when I get back, so she better not be bringing people home (unless it’s hyper teenage girls for a slumber party) or be giving my parents grandchildren….

Everyone in my village who saw pictures of me and my mom in Italy would say, “Ah!  Is that your younger sister?”  So I guess that means either I look really old, or my mom looks young.  I’ll choose to believe that my mom looks young….so hopefully someday, when I’m 50-years-old, people will think that I’m only 30….  That’d be nice haha.

What’s new in America?  I don’t know anything.  Apparently Obama was re-elected (I didn’t vote – I didn’t have my act together to apply for my absentee ballot in time…so such much for exercising my right to vote…), there was a big hurricane on the east coast?, and um, yeah, that’s about all I know.  

I’m currently in the process of writing some grants to request donations for projects in my village, such as improving the school library (aka buying some books) and starting a chicken egg farm (aka helping my village make money, increase their protein intake, and provide me with yummy eggs so I can make omelets and bake cakes in village!).  I, like usual, meant to have it done for today so I could post it, get it approved, and then you my lovely family and friends could start donating…but alas, things aren’t working out so smoothly in village (organizing Burkinabe and making budgets with them is EXTREMELY difficult) and so nothing is ready.  But maybe around Christmas time?  Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when you can start giving your money, haha.

Well my bus leaves in an hour, and I’m still not packed, so it’s time to go…  until next time, December 10-17 I’ll be Ouaga, take care! 

P.S. As I should have internet with good connection for chatting/skyping December 10-17 in Ouaga, I 'd love to read emails, updates, look at photos, Christmas cards and letters, etc.  So start emailing them my way!  

Merci beaucoup!

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