Thursday, October 9, 2008

News in Brief

Oh, hello there. It’s been awhile since my last missive, I suppose, so here’s a brief update of my doings:

  • In an attempt to break my “I’m not doing anything worthwhile” funk, I took a little trip to Santiago to stay at the HUB, the world’s most glorious hostel, with some of my most glorious friends. We ate some glorious food (Pizza, eggrolls, ice cream) and saw a not-that-glorious movie (Tropic Thunder—the theatre’s air conditioning was pretty glorious, though). Unfortunately, I got some kind of glorious food poisoning from some of the glorious food and was pretty sick for awhile.
  • Upon my return to site, I was still pretty sick, so this week found me sleeping 12+ hours a day, living on Saltine crackers and making my last gallon of bottled water last for like three days because I couldn’t deal with the thought of carrying a 5-gallon bottle back to my house. (Note: I have new water now, and I’ve graduated back up to foods like couscous and homemade hummus.)
  • I also somewhat pitifully continued my attempts to start English classes. Again, no one has attended my 4-6pm class (which I specifically added because a couple kids’ parents told me 8pm was too late for the ninos to walk back home), but I have a couple students for my 6-8pm class. It’s really not as much fun as my Saturday morning class, though… on Monday my students were: one 30-something woman who already knew a little English and was really motivated to learn, and one 10-year-old boy who is being forced to take this class by his mom, does not really want to learn English, and is illiterate in Spanish, let alone English. You can’t really play many games with two students, especially when one of the students will just give you a blank look until the other student supplies the answer for him. I don’t really want to just give up on the illiterate student, but I think he needs to get a handle on Spanish before he tackles English. On Wednesday, the illiterate boy returned with his older sister, and my original other student couldn’t make it. (She told me she probably wouldn’t be able to attend every class, since she has 2 kids.) I did a repeat of the first class, and the new student picked up the material much faster than the kid who had already had it once. Vamos a ver.. it’s not like in the US where, in theory, I could tell the boy’s parents “Hey, you know, your son is illiterate, maybe you should get some extra help for him,” because… there isn’t really any extra help. A fairly large number of illiterate kids make it through the Dominican school system. (Of course, some illiterate ones make it through the American school system, too.) And I don’t really feel remotely qualified to teach Spanish literacy… I can barely teach English and I’m fluent in that! I know my friend Stephanie has been teaching a 20-year-old Dominican friend of hers how to read, but her friend is motivated. I don’t think this kid really wants to learn how to read, which makes it trickier. If he keeps showing up to English class I’ll have to do something…

    In summary, my new batch English classes—which my project partner, school principal, and assorted people in the street have assured me that are oh-so-important to the community—have, after 3 weeks of putting up posters, telling people in the street, telling people who show up at my house asking about class, and asking English teachers in the school to tell their students about them, attracted a total of 3 students, one of whom is illiterate. This in addition to my Saturday English classes, which have 10 students on paper, and around 4 students on Saturday mornings.

  • Meanwhile, on the front of my computer lab (aka my actual Peace Corps project), a couple weeks ago I was told that we had received new batteries for our backup system and that we could start using the lab normally again. I even grudgingly got permission to start working on a school newspaper (the nun told me it would be better if I waited until we got our SECOND computer lab, which the Secretary of Education is supposedly going to give us this year, but since we both know that will probably never happen she said I could try to start now). I was also asked to update the anti-virus software, which I am happy to do. Except that when I tried to get into the lab to do so, I was told that we could still only use the lab when there is electricity because the new batteries haven’t actually been installed yet.

  • Apologies for this long, boring explanation of why I can’t do anything in my site.
  • Since your tax dollars are paying for me to be here, I feel I owe you all an explanation of why I am mainly sitting around my house watching Arrested Development and The Office on my computer.
  • I also spend a lot of time sleeping.
  • But you can’t say I didn’t try.
  • Most of the other PCVs have assured me that no one is very productive their first year in site so I shouldn’t worry about this.
  • It’s still kind of worrying.
  • Anyway, next week I’m going to the capital to work on the Gringo Grita (the PCDR magazine). One of the staff members dropped out of Peace Corps and I got asked to replace him. So, hell, I’m not doing anything in my site, I might as well work on some sort of IT project that might benefit somebody. Also, I will be in the capital receiving per diem, which will allow me to eat falafel and pizza.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

I'd rather pay for you to be there than insurance execs getting pedicures!

Zac is on the cover of this weeks EW - I'll send it along when I'm done. Or you know, in six months.