18 May

It’s Monday here in Kenya. I had a good day teaching, which means I actually attended all of the classes I’m supposed to teach. It does not, however, mean I actually taught all of them, but I did at least show up. I taught math and KSL to class 2 and English to class 3. Teaching KSL is something I generally dislike doing, but we just got a new KSL book specifically for class 2, so I decided to give it a whirl. It was actually pretty successful. Usually, kids are bored out of their mind during KSL – and today, after rearranging their seating to keep the best learners in the front, only about half got lost. Everyone participated, though, which was nice. I have expectations for 4 of my kids – Valary Akinyi, Alphonce, John and Calvin. The others are pretty uninterested in learning.

 

I skipped teaching KSL to class 3 and science to class 3. The tricky thing is that class 3 is pretty bright – all of them (there are only 3 right now) are capable, interested learners. I don’t have any guidelines for KSL in class 3, and no book to go by, which makes things difficult, seeing as I don’t know what is expected of them. For that matter, I have no idea what they learned in class 2, if anyone taught them KSL. I guess something would be better than nothing though, so maybe I will start doing a few lessons from the end of the class 2 book. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt anything. Science is also difficult, mainly because there are so many words that do not have signs. I can explain it, but concepts are very difficult for me to accurately explain. I try to give examples, but they take things so literally that they often misinterpret or fail to understand that there can be other examples. For instance, habitat. The sign we use for habitat is actually environment, using a letter “e” which is a little confusing for them in the first place – though similar concepts. Then, I give examples: dry, wet, forest, desert, etc. But then there are small habitats as well, like bread for mold, soil for worms, yada yada yada. I don’t really think they NEED to know that kind of detailed stuff, but unfortunately the government of Kenya (who creates the big exams) feels like that’s important information. So it goes.

 

After I finished teaching/attending classes, it was time for lunch. Mr. Ambalo brought me two letters – one from Aunt Treva, and the other (recognized by the same handwriting that gave Santa away years ago) from my mom. First, I opened Aunt Treva’s to find pictures of not-so-babyish Baby Brody and a nice update of home. Then, I opened the one from mom to find a Christmas card. A little late, eh? Amused, I opened the card, and immediately broke into tears. It was signed by all of my family, I’m guessing at Thanksgiving. Gah! It was too sweet. I needed that one. So the cry was good, even though it started in front of everyone, I moved it to my house and let it roll. Then I came to lunch a clean slate, ready to start building up to my next decent cry.

 

After lunch, I decided I needed to get out. I was restless. Sometimes my emotions do this to me, and I just need to get away, anywhere, somewhere, please. I considered walking, but I didn’t really have a purpose for walking. My market was too far away for just a walk, to at least pretend to look for something since I don’t actually need anything or have money to pay for it. If you just walk somewhere and turn around, people tend to think you’re strange, and there really aren’t any “turning points” in my area – just barren dirt roads, with people lazing about, watching passers by along them. So, Mr. Ambalo agreed to pay my fare into town since I wanted to print off my grant proposal for revisions. Perfect.

 

On the way, the driver had to run some errands for others in the vehicle as well. One of the passengers wanted me to come see his home. He insisted I come inside and have a seat while he gathered a few things to carry into town. Awkward, but okie doke. Then, after collecting his belongings, he wanted to show me around his compound.…. So I looked at his milk cows, his poultry, the young boy with shriveled legs slumped over under a porch with flies on his face. It was strange. I still need to think about that whole situation. Anyways, finally he dismissed me and we continued to Siaya. Once we arrived, it was clear that rain was approaching. My driver agreed to wait as long as I hurried, so that we beat the rain. My road quickly becomes impassable these days.

 

I rushed up to the cyber, and the good computers were taken. By good, I mean your first desktop computer 10 years ago. The one that takes CD’s, not the floppy disk. We’re past that. It was hectic trying to print all of the pages (there were only 9) and actually get the ones that belonged to me. By then, 30 minutes had passed and I didn’t even have time to check my email. But at least I beat the rain.

 

When I got back to school, Mr. Ambalo was waiting for me to discuss the grant, amongst other things. He stayed for over an hour. Initially, I wasn’t really in the mood for company or conversation– I needed to heat my bath water and boil my milk, pop popcorn and stare off into space… but it turned out to be a really good visit, actually. He witnessed my eruption of emotions earlier in the day, after opening my card, and even though he never asked how I was or anything, I knew that he was just visiting to make sure I was ok. I knew this because today he had a tooth extracted without any type of medication at all, other than ibuprofen given afterwards. Yes, that is how they do it here. And that is how I knew that he wasn’t just feeling chatty. I really appreciate his genuine concern on these days. I’m so lucky to have not just someone at my site who cares the way he does, but my BOSS – the head teacher. It’s honestly unbelievable, especially when I hear stories from other PCV’s about their head teachers and colleagues. I lucked out.

 

So, while he was here, Dorine came by to story as well. Mr. Ambalo relived the extraction of his tooth very animatedly, much to our entertainment. After a while, he jokingly asked for me to take his picture so he would never forget this day of misery – and I confessed that my camera was cuurently unable to be found. As in, it had been stolen. He was dismayed. Yes, dismayed. I can’t think of a better word to describe how he reacted, but it was surprising how much it upset him. I think he was more upset than I was, especially since I had been keeping it a “secret,” failing to tell him and it happened to disappear two weeks ago. He asked me a billion questions and started calling people on his cell phone. It was a little embarrassing, but again, he cares. It’s nice. I don’t get that every day here. Then, he really encouraged me to start opening up more, because he doesn’t want me to be so so soo stressed. It was funny, though, because he actually said that the reason I have become so forgetful is because I’m dealing with so much stress all by myself. Ha. Honestly, I know that is partially correct, but it was just funny for my recent bout of forgetfulness/absentmindedness to be pointed out.

 

After all that business, I did find time to get my milk boiled, popcorn popped and water heated. I even stared off into space for a while before joining the kids for the reading session, where I sat and talked on the phone with Maggie for almost an hour. It was so nice, just to be talking like I’m right there at home. Just like the old days. I can’t even put my feelings about that into words, but just to chit chat… not even be telling stories or explaining things or answering questions, just talking about stuff. Blah. I miss feeling normal!

 

But, the good thing is, these conversations kind of bring me back to life. We talked last night, too, and it was my most productive night here this term. After getting off of the phone, I decided to do some stretching and reflecting, then I schemed (not planned) my lessons for the next day, and finally I played my guitar for about an hour – and learned quite a bit of a new song. It was nice, to feel like I accomplished things. Lately, once it gets dark, I sit by my candle because I don’t want to waste my fuel in my lantern and just stare off. Just sit here and stare. No music or anything. It is kind of weird, because right now, I can’t tell you what I was thinking about while I was sitting there, but I do think a lot. But not last night! I kept myself a-goin! And then I slept like a baby. I’ve only had a handful of good night’s sleep here, and that was one of them.

 

Tonight I got to talk to Maggie again, while the kids were reading. It was nice. And then I actually felt like writing a blog post, which I’ve been trying to do for a few days now but the words just didn’t come to mind. All that thinking I do – and I can’t even produce an paragraph of proof.

 

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