I’m feeling refreshed and rejuvenated from my vacation in Greece – travelling & mothers are chicken soup to the soul. The princess treatment is over, and now it’s back to work! Term II starts at the beginning of June and I’ve taken on some outside projects in addition to teaching…
>>First and foremost, I’ll be working on a big grant to build a library for the school. Right now we have only a shell of a building and a lot of work needs to be done. Just as vitally, we need books. All we have right now is 3 dictionaries, 1 thesaurus, and stacks of dusty textbooks, which are outdated and filled with errors (all are published in East Africa) – not one novel, encyclopedia, biography, or collection of poetry. I want my students to be able to do research on their own and read for pleasure. A girl can dream, right?
>>Secondly, I’ve been given a Base Pack by Peace Corps and appointed a “Regional Pack Captain.” This is a new incentive system we want to enact on a broad level; our job as captains is to give them a trial run in our own schools. This is what a Base Pack looks like:
As you can see, it’s a backpack filled with sports and games equipment, all of which is unavailable in Africa: cones, bean bags, frisbees, tennis balls, skipping ropes, etc. The idea is to choose a measurable behavior your students need to improve on, and then use something out of the base pack as a reward when certain thresholds are reached. We were visited by the company’s staff, and given tons of unique ideas for getting students engaged, motivated, and working together using what’s in the packs.
Luckily, this isn’t something that’s overly structured yet. We have basic guidelines but can pretty much run in any direction we want with it. Some other captains want to improve attendance or enforce timeliness. I’m probably going to focus on encouraging class participation, as a way to address assertiveness and confidence issues.
>>Lastly, I’ve been asked to teach a class on female reproductive health and RUMPS (ReUsable Menstrual PadS) for an event at a school in Western Uganda in June. RUMPS are a huge initiative here right now. I’m excited for the opportunity to get involved with this type of training and possibly bring it into my school in the future.
A bit of an explanation: Because most Ugandan families can’t afford sanitary pads, girls typically stay home when they are on their periods. Skipping school one week every month means that they are missing ¼ of class time, putting them further behind their male peers who already have so many more advantages in this culture. RUMPS are simple, cheap, and sustainable: cloth pads with changeable linings that the girls can sew themselves (we do that with them during the training) using local materials that total to about $0.50.
I’m happy to say I’ve got my work cut out for me this summer. Thanks for reading!
What you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn.