So I know it's been a while since my last post... my apologies. I could use several excuses, but really I've just been lazy. So here goes... the past two and a half weeks of my life included:
-My first full week of teaching. My second week here, I taught a class of about 15 students a four day intensive English course with an exam on the fifth day. The class was for intro English students who had failed last semester and were looking for a way to get their grades up in order to avoid repeating the class next semester. I had a lot more fun teaching than I thought I would, though I have a new empathy for teachers with unresponsive classes. It was like pulling teeth to get students to volunteer answers. I was desperate for any sort of acknowledgement, a smile, a nod, eye contact, anything. It seemed to get better as the week went along, though. Sadly, the results of the test were not quite what I had hoped, and I feel bad that the students' outcomes were so dependent on so new of a teacher.
-Teaching a more long term class in Limbé on Mondays and Fridays. Limbé is the nearby city (pretty big... about 100,000 according to Laurie). There, I teach a class normally taught by Bob or Duky (the head of the UCNH English dept), though as far as I can tell, the school in Limbé isn't connected with the university. It's been nice having a more consistent crowd there; I can actually learn and remember names. I feel like I have a good relationship with my students there as we've been getting to know each other better. One student told me he preferred my teaching style, so that was a nice little ego boost. It is strange though to be teaching people mostly older than me. I would say the average student, both in Limbé and at the university is around 23. Some of my students are even in their 30's and 40's. They are all very respectful of me, though, and seem to appreciate what I have to say.
-Lots of diarrhea. And I mean lots. I'm still recovering from what was either a really bad case of traveller's diarrhea or a mild case of cholera. I keep thinking it's gone but then it comes back. A few weeks ago I spent the hours between 12:30-3 a.m. moving between my bed and the bathroom, and one final hour between 3 and 4 exclusively on the toilet. I've had plenty of medication and am keeping myself well hydrated, so the whole experience has simply been inconvenient rather than potentially dangerous. To those HWP members who were lucky enough to hear Dr. Vendeland describe the effects of cholera, I now know exactly how that feels.
-Soccer. Haut-Limbé is currently caught up in the Copa America (the Women's World Cup seems not to matter here) and everyone's always talking about the latest match. Budry and I went to the "cine" last week to watch the Argentina/Bolivia game. The cine was a classroom with a 30" TV at one end and about 75 people packed in facing it. The transmission was extremely blurry and it was hard to distinguish Argentina's white and blue from Bolivia's green. We had a good time though. There's also been a 5 v. 5 tournament going on this week that Budry has been officiating. It's a lot of fun to go to the games and just hang out with people from the community. My Creole is improving to the point where I can have basic conversations with people I meet and generally follow conversations if I'm trying very hard.
-Church. Unfortunately, my church experience has been a little disappointing, though it's not really anyone's fault. The church here is just so big, it's hard to meet people or feel connected; there are probably around 500 people at the service I go to. The way that it's structured also makes it hard to chat either before or after. In addition, the services have been around 2 1/2-3 hours long and entirely in Creole. Right now, it just takes too much effort on my part to try and follow, and I typically end up drifting off into my own thoughts. Hopefully as my language develops, I'll be able to connect better with my fellow worshippers. We did have communion this past week, which I appreciated a lot. I miss celebrating the eucharist every week, not to mention the several other comfortable and accessible rituals of Rez.
-Improved communication. Like I said, I feel like I've gotten right to the beginning of the conversational level of Creole. My host mom and I are communicating much better; last week she asked me which foods of hers I liked and I was thankful for the opportunity to express my gratitude. I'm really embarrassed by how easily I forget peoples' names here, but I'm slowly starting to remember more and more. Please pray that these relationships will develop and grow in good time, and that I will not get impatient with myself or others.
Well this seems to be a good overview. Again, these past few weeks have been up and down, but I feel myself fitting in more and more. My schedule is pretty set through Friday, but I have no idea what I'll be doing next week. I'm trying to be flexible, but prayers for patience and humility are always appreciated. Please keep commenting and sending emails... it's always good to hear from people back in the States. Also, let me know how I can be praying for you too... it's something that I'm trying to work on to get me out of my self-centeredness. Thanks for your love, prayers and support.