Friday, January 21, 2011

A new year, a new term

After a somewhat rough start to school (who wants to go back to waking up at 5:30 everyday after a month and a half of pure vacation bliss?), I finally feel like I am back into the swing of things. This term I’m teaching Form 1, 2, and 3 Biology at Bishop Abiero plus all Forms of Life Skills. I’ve also arranged to work with other secondary schools nearby to teach Life Skills to their students. I believe this “optional” class to be seriously important, especially for an isolated Kenyan adolescent. Because of cultural taboo, children do not ask their parents or elders sex related questions. Because of poverty children cannot access books or the internet describing adolescent changes. And because of culture, children can’t even say the word condom without looking away embarrassed. Life Skills provides an outlet for all these pent up questions to be asked anonymously. I’ve heard everything from “Can you use lemon juice instead of condoms?” to “Can a man get a goat pregnant” to “Is there sun in America” to “Can lions change their colour to blue?”. Clearly, there is a lack of resources for looking up such questions. And Life Skills’ anonymous question box works at alleviating that. While I cannot return 12938403000 answers in 2.3 seconds as per google, having the education and background knowledge allows me to answer some of the student’s legitimate questions.

At Bishop Abiero, I’ve been working on proposals to complete our laboratory building and to construct hand washing stations near the latrines. Proposal writing is a long, slow, tedious process that I’ve come to loathe, but can only cross my fingers that they’ll go through. Be on the look out for ways you can donate (tax deductible!) through Peace Corps to construct our lab!

Last week, two other PCVs and myself attended an intensive language immersion for 4 days where we studied our local mother tongue of dhoLuo. It was tiring, but incredibly helpful. While I still feel much more comfortable speaking in Kiswahili, I’m glad to know much more dhoLuo and now have to make an effort to speak it. It’s a difficult language that I don’t find particularly beautiful, but nonetheless, it is the local language. So I’ll be practicing my bargaining skills at the market, greeting the swarms of children and conversing with the mamas in Luo from now on.

Next week I’m starting to work at the primary school by my house. I miss working with small children so the headmaster agreed to let me teach the lower primary reading classes on Tuesday mornings! I’m excited to be around lots of cute, smiling faces, but a bit nervous as my dhoLuo is not that great yet. If it goes well then I’ll branch out to the other primary schools in the area and maybe teach life skills to the upper primary.

I’m also working with the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society to plan an HIV/AIDS sports day in which the local secondary school students will be able to spend the day getting HIV tested, circumsized (for boys), competing in sports competitions, dance and drama competitions and attending health talks.

And of course, I still have a ton of puppies to keep me busy. They are adorable as ever, despite their constantly pooping in the oddest places (really, IN my shoe!). As they are slowly leaving for their future homes, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit of sadness. I want to keep them all! But, alas, I can’t end up the crazy Kenyan dog lady with 10 dogs following her around. So I’ll keep Kibo, Nala, Abby, and maybe another one…we’ll see.

This term will be a busy one, but I’m excited to be productive and stay motivated during my next year here!

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