In early November we gave our first exams at school. Liberian students are well known for their talent in spying (or cheating). Sometimes they leave a sheet of notes under the test, others hide notes on the seat between their legs, others (girls) will hide note in their skirt or write on their legs, and I’ve seen notes written on money that can be passed from student to student. They are very crafty, and I love catching them trying to fool me. :) For our first exam, I made three different tests and told my students that spying would not help them on the test. However, some of them still copied from their neighbor, writing down all the wrong answers onto their test. But my students catch on quick and know that if they spy they will lose points, not be allowed to finish the test, and sometimes even get a zero on the exam. Surprisingly, the students who come to class and study/review the material are the ones that pass. Something I always have to explain to the students that never come to class and then show up for the exam expecting to pass the period.
Got another package from home. :) thanks again, mom and dad. Those hand lenses you mailed got broken in by my tenth graders during review week. After me lecturing them and saying that these lenses can make objects look bigger they were so amazed to go out in the field behind the school and experience it for themselves. ‘Miss Stephanie! The ant looks bigger!’ ‘Look, there are little hairs on this leaf!’. We made sure to observe small print text and even Naw wei’s nose before heading back inside the classroom to discuss what we found.
Thanks for including sandals in the box you sent. My giant-sized feet are hard to shop for in Liberia. I wear size 11 in US and 73 in European sizes. It makes finding large sandals that I can teach in hard to do. My last pair was finally tossed out. I used super glue on them so many times it stopped helping. But at least I got all the use out of them. Not as embarrassing as my study abroad in Australia when I duct taped my shoes to avoid paying for new ones. Priorities man, I wanted to go bungee jumping more than buy shoes.
I bought Naw wei a rabies vaccination in Monrovia in November. The only hitch? It needs to be refrigerated… and I have to transport it back to my site using bush taxi. I got an empty medical kit, filled it with ice and ice packs and set out for site. It was still cool when I arrived four hours later, but the ice was melted. Naw wei disliked this because as soon as I got there, he was held down and Holly stuck him in the butt. But now he’s protected from rabies.
I did more stand-up comedy at Tides Bar over Halloween and dressed up as Justin Beiber last minute because I didn’t plan ahead and gather a costume. I was in Monrovia for a PSN training. Peer Support Network is a volunteer run program that aims to act as a support system for our fellow volunteers. So whether they need to vent, brag, complain, cry, or hear some uplifting words, we are here to help. We got some excellent training on active listening and forming a support network from a big boss man in D.C. And so I was voted into the position of secretary and our group is well on its way to forming events that facilitate support of each other no matter what we are having troubles with out at site.
So you know the insides of tires? Those seemingly useless tubes? Well, they’re sold here and are quite perfect as inner tubes out on the lake at our site. We started with one, now we have three. They’re just great for floating around and being lazy. I also managed to salvage a plastic chair from our swimming hole. One of our Chinese friends knocked his chair into the water while fishing (he’s kind of a klutz). But all I had to do was dive down twelve feet and swim back up to the surface with it. Now it sits in our house and I didn’t have to pay $8 to get it. Small win. Our house is one more step closer to being furnished.
On October 28th we had a program/fun day planned for school. The school brought out the generator and the kids watched a pretty terrible (but very hilarious) Nigerian movie while we held a ‘meet you fellow teachers’ meeting in the reading room complete with peanut butter cookies made on our coal pot. I found out most of my fellow teachers were born or raised in Lofa County and was happy to tell them I was headed there for the first time later in the month for Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Celebration. The Nigerian shows were followed by a killer football game. New students vs Old students. During the game my fellow techers found it important to tell me I had to root for the New students since I was a new teacher. And hence the playful banter between us as the score changed throughout the game. It ended in a tie and I was pretty proud of my athletic twelfth graders. They did well. After football was the school dance. Yeah…. I thought I was finally too old for these. Seems not. I fear for myself when I have to dance back in the United States. The Liberians think I’m a really good dancer and I feel like these West African hit songs are not helping my already bad dance abilities. But you can’t say no when Africans ask you to dance. And so, we made an appearance at the dance and I got to scope out which of my students were dating whom (what?! I know it happens). And show them up on the dance floor. Shakira’s Waka waka is relatively common here but I’m still trying to master that dance. Beiber is also common which is rather odd, Katy Perry and Lady GaGa are not heard of which slightly saddens me. And I couldn't tell you what’s hip now. But if any of you friends feel like enlightening me with the current hot and hip music from home please put it on an SD card or USB port. My snazzy music player saves battery by only using these and my mp3 plug which lets me play my iPod. My laptop does not have a disk drive.
Naw wei, my little African mutt is growing fast. He’s finally lifting his leg to pee (and doesn't have to look like a strange chicken-legged squatter anymore) and enjoys peeing on all kinds of things. He’s also coming of age and noticing all the lady dogs around the house. However he’s not sure what to do and I don’t speak dog which means that while you are watching CNN or BBC at night I have Lady and the Tramp doggie romances going on from the view of my porch. He’ll figure it out at some point, but it’s highly entertaining for us. His collection of tricks has gone up to include ‘wave’, ‘speak’ and ‘roll over’. Even some of my students are now visiting and going up to him ‘Naw wei, speak!’ They think he’s amazingly talented for an African dog.