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Monday, August 15, 2011

More Model School and Rain

August 13, 2011

I enjoyed teaching roots and stems to my seventh graders this week. (My fellow volunteers love to laugh when I say root in my dorky Midwestern way. I wasn't as often reminded until now of how Midwestern I am. It's nice in a way. I'm the only representative in my group for Wisconsin and Minnesota) I had my students rip out a plant from the school yard. We all identified the parts and determined between taproots and fiberous. They loved it. I made the material relevant when I explained that staple food they all eat: cassava, is a root. And that sugarcane (which they all like to chew... I tried it, and wasn't swept off my feet but take time and I may like it more) and onions (which they put into almost every soup here) were stems that they eat. Minds. Were. Blown. I also made my 10th graders form a circle and stuck a few of them inside it to demonstrate the cell membrane and it being semi-permeable.

I know I kicked ass teaching model school because not only did my students do well (on average. My 7A class did not study for the test o.O) but they would write about science information I taught them in their English classes. The English teacher trainees would look over at me across the table while grading and raise a brow. "Steph? Are you teaching your 8th grade about habitats?" ..."Yes.." ... "Well, they're learning it." English teachers would ask for paragraphs and kids would remember what I taught them and incorporate it into their assignment.

When Model School started I decided on Miss Stephanie as my teacher name. My family already knows me as Stephanie* (or Lee-la which is my kpelle name. My family gave it to me. It means 'satisfied') and I didn't want to correct 50 students after they call me Miss Nice. Although, Holly and I toyed with the idea of making our students at site call her Captain Cook and call me Lieutenant Nice. (When I say Miss Nice, I mean it in the sense that my last name, Nys, is often mispronounced Niece or Nice.) I don't really want to be Miss Nys only because they will assume I'm nice...which is not true :P

I also got around to dying and cutting my hair again with the help of an artsy Nora Watson (thank you Nora). My hair is still blazing red which leaves me as the only redhead volunteer, natural or fake (makes picking me out easier...not that it was ever hard. *self burn*).

Speaking of art, I already have a authentic canvas painting of a Liberian beach scene painted by a very talented Liberian, Victor. Matt lives near him and helped commission me a Liberian painting. Victor asked what I'd like on it, of course there had to have some ocean in it...duh. Anyhoo, it's done now and colorful, huge (hoping that getting it to my site won't be hard), and is very Liberian. It will be framed and hung in my house and if I forget to upload a picture of it in the next few months, remind me.

***I interrupt this blog to report that I just had a bathroom break (amidst a beautiful rainstorm going on outside) and then, while trying to get my hand sanitizer from my hand, scolded a cockroach for being in my bag... yes, scolded. Either I'm soft or I'm giving up. ...oh well. We'll see if he listens and stays out.

Last week was also Charlene and Nate's birthdays. We made Mexican food again and it was just as wonderful the second time around. We finished the night with dancing, games, and drinks. Charlene's the oldest in our group at 29 and Nate the youngest at 21. It's not a bias thing, having all younger volunteers, just that passing medical requirements for a country with limited medical care, non-existent refrigeration upcountry, and little electricity isn't easy.

We also have eight new response volunteers who flew in a few nights ago. They'll be up in Kakata on Sunday and will do an accelerated training and swear in with us on August 19th. We're all excited to meet them and we will this weekend as our LR2 group is going down to Monrovia for some burgers, pizza, and to all hang out together before we're all sent away to our various sites on the 24th. I'm still in my denial stage. I want to be at site...but I don't know if I'm ready to say goodbye to my newest group of close friends.

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