Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ethiopia: Nazret: Second Day at the English Alive Academy

Last night was uncomfortable - we close the windows and doors at 6:00 p.m. because of the mosquitoes ("bimbies"), so although there is a restorative cool breeze outdoors, the interior air is close. The closeness was exacerbated by the mosquito netting I had over and around my bed last night. Then I started coughing some time in the night, a loud, annoying, dry cough that kept me (and probably Azeb) awake.

No running water in the morning. This frequent condition is why there is a large bucket in the bathroom, filled with water from the yard spigot. One uses this water as needed for the toilet (though I haven't quite got this process worked out), handwashing, or spit baths.

Speaking of water - because buying water for all of one's drinking need is prohibitively expensive, Azeb boils tap water for this purpose.

Azeb made me a good, simple breakfast of a plain omelet and bread with peanut butter. Plus hot water into which I poured Nescafe instant coffee.

I went to the Grade 1-4 campus in the morning. The grade 4 teacher was absent, so I had the pleasure of teaching the seven delightful 4th graders until he arrived just before the morning beak at 10:30 (that's 4:30 a.m. Ethiopian time). We had high drama during "circle time", when some of the students took issue with Kalkidan's referee call on a learning-game play. She suffered the consequences that all leaders must when making unpopular decisions. I told the kids that since Kalkidan was the leader on this game, it was her call, and I stood by her decision. Then Nahomi, another student, registered his disgruntlement by tossing his cards into the middle of the playing field - the universal language for "flipping the board" that we all know. Later, when he wanted to rejoin the game, I said he couldn't as he'd already chosen to bow our via his earlier protest.

We went through a small vocabulary/phonics list from today's lesson plan. Each child took a card and explained the meaning to the class. It turned out that the students could pronounce the words, but didn't know their meaning. Nahomi drew the word "fuss". He looked to me and checked to be really sure I wanted him to demonstrate the word's meaning to the class. "Oh, yes", I responded. At which he proceeded to fart with gusto. The kids laughed, of course, and I learned that "fuss", in Amharic, means to fart.

At lunch, I returned to Azeb's, where she had prepared a refreshing cabbage and tomato and beet salad, plus shiro and a fish stew. When we don't finish all of the food from a meal, I've tried to encourage her to serve the leftovers to me at the next meal. I do not need a brand new preparation of something at each meal.

In the afternoon, I went to the nursery-kindergarten campus. Wah! Although one could possibly die from exposure to an overdose of cuteness among these sweeties, one is more likely to be overcome by their high energy. I don't envy the teachers.

Fortunately, I'm also not TOO much of a germ-phobe, else the constant state of toddlers' runny noses and other grit and grime that attaches to little ones might be too much. As it is, it's only ALMOST too much. For snack time, the teachers lay out a large tarp on the floor; the kids open up their lunch pails and literally dig in a shovel in. Oh yes, I'm much better suited to teaching adults.

At the end of the school day, I gave an English class to the teachers. We covered some basic commands helpful with students, such as "stand up", "sit down", "wash your hands", etc. Some of the teachers know this stuff; a few new ones do not.

Afterward, I got a little time on the internet, enough to shoot out a couple of emails and dally on Facebook. WOW! I was so warmed by the response to my previous Facebook notice about the English live Academy. Cousin Sarah had already contacted Stephanie about donations and Cat had already announced a fundraising Thirty-One party!

When I arrived home at Azeb's, the smell of kerosene permeated the house. Azeb cooks on one small kerosene stove in her kitchen. She sits on a low stool while doing so. One dish at a time. With closing all of the windows and doors at 6:00 p.m. the odor had no escape. I don't know why it was so today and not previous days.

I worked on my lesson plan for tomorrow's teacher training. We set up a fan so I can get a semblance of a breeze at night. I am very grateful for this.

No running water tonight, thus another sink bath with water from the bucket.

Hopefully, this doesn't sound like complaining. Just explaining what is. For me, it's new and different.

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