In which our intrepid hero sleeps in bunkbeds and educates his peers

It’s becoming more and more difficult to find things to write about. This is not because there are fewer and fewer things happening; it’s because they are becoming more and more commonplace. Hauling water, for instance, has become something to which I barely give a second thought. Laundry is the same way; I fill my two buckets with water, add the soap, let the clothes soak for an hour or two, and then scrub by hand. The clean clothes get transferred to the rinse bucket, soak for a few minutes, then get scrubbed and wrung out before getting hung out to dry. It was notable when I first got here; now, it’s just routine.

I travelled last week, which was notable. All of the first-year Math, Science, and ICT education volunteers travelled back to Kukurantumi for a week of Inservice Training (IST). IST is a workshop where we get a chance to discuss our experiences during our first term as teachers, as well as learn about more advanced topics, such as grant writing and end-of-term paperwork. It also gave us the opportunity to sleep in bunkbeds, catch up on gossip, and just have a good time.

One thing that was different about this workshop was that we brought our counterpart teachers along with us. This workshop gave them a chance to see us, the Peace Corps Volunteers, with our peers in a setting that is different from the school and community setting that they normally see us in. That can be really helpful when you’re trying to defeat the “All Americans are/do/have _________” stereotype, and you could almost see the change in thinking that occurred over the course of the week.

The best part of the workshop (in my humble opinion) was the ICT sessions. Caroline was there to lead them, and the two of us ended up working together quite a bit in preparing the notes, handouts, and demonstrations for them. We work quite well together, actually; she has a ton of great ideas for classroom teaching, has plenty of experience with lesson planning and grant writing, and has actually built a computer lab from nothing at her school*, whereas I bring a lot of experience with open-source software, system administration, computer hardware maintenance, and network management. We both have ADHD, so we can have an unfettered conversation without annoying each other (anyone with ADHD or who has raised a child with ADHD knows what I’m talking about here), and we’re both strong proponents of using Linux and open-source software in schools. So, we holed up, prepared a ton of handouts and examples, burned several Ubuntu CDs to give away to anyone who wanted them, and presented several knockout sessions together. All in all, it went very well.

And now I’m back at site. I have a large pile of papers to hand back, lesson plans to write, and grant proposals to prepare. I’m also trying to train my mind to catch more things that are worthy of writing home about, so that these missives don’t keep getting delayed. Here’s hoping…

*Literally. She went from 0 computers to 30 by persistence and sheer force of will. She’s a might to be reckoned with.

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I'm just this guy, you know?