Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gotta kwenda 'em all!!

Hey everybody!!

Hope all's well back in the states. You're probably all gearing up for whatever winter wonders are coming your way, who knows the kind of snowstorms and blizzards you'll be in for. I only mention this in great detail because you must know how jealous I am of the fluffy white material about to descend and cover your homes...it's 70 degrees here and muggy. Ugh. Actually, that's only in the city of Kigali where I am sitting at an internet cafe, boiling. Just stepping outside into the humid air makes me wish for that delicious blanket of snow, enveloping the house and forcing everybody to begrudgingly haul out the sleds and whip up mugs of hot chocolate.

Ok, ok, I'll come back from my reverie and describe something you may not be experiencing right now: ScHOOL'S OUT FOR THE WINTER!!! (now, imagine that song playing in your head when you read that). Yup, that's right. It's November and I am officially "unemployed." Well, I'm not going to school to teach my students any longer and beginning this week, both Senior 3 and Senior 6 level students are taking their national exams. So, basically, I've got nothing to do.

Or so I thought. As it turns out, you can get a lot of work done when you're not busy, aka, you can keep yourself occupied quite well without the minor distraction of teaching. I have found myself taking trips with my teacher colleagues to the coastal town of Kibuye where we took a boat ride and enjoyed the beautiful scenery followed by a grand Halloween celebration in the form of a bubble party outside of my friend's home.

That was truly an enlightening experience where I not only rediscovered the joy of watching those majestic globes escape from the soapy water mixture but there was a novelty about the experience--how often am I able to introduce the magic of bubbles to children? At first, the neighbor children were hesitant to approach us, despite (or maybe due to ) our overabundant enthusiasm for the activity but eventually, slow by slow, they inched closer and closer to where they were no longer leaning away but flinging themselves in front of the moving orbs. "Kwenda, kwenda!!" is what they kept shouting as they reached and stretched for the "ipiriso." We learned that kwenda means: to catch. After some prompting and modeling, they picked up the general idea of how to blow the bubbles and one kid even mastered the art of creating the ginormous bubble (they were bigger than my head!!) All in all, a very successful Halloween.

This year has been marked by many successes but none surpasses the feat of surviving my first year of teaching. Never before had I pictured myself in such a position of authority and responsibility and there was never an ounce of appreciation for the persistence and ingenuity a teacher must maintain over the course of her profession, let alone one trimester!! But as it turns out, I made it! But it has not been without its struggles and obstacles. In addition to not knowing what to expect from the conclusion of this last term, there were some sticky issues involving the last exam I made for my Senior 5 students; I put way too many difficult vocabulary words which led some of them to fail the exam. Immediately after grading all of their abysmal marks, I realized that they may have failed the test but I am the one who failed to teach them. I felt horrible and wanted to give a retake test or at least involve some kind of bell curve but it turns out that if they manage to score at least half the overall amount of points given throughout the year they pass. I breathed a sigh of release when I heard that (very conveniently from my roommates one lazy Saturday afternoon) even though I still felt culpable for their lack of understanding. Guess I have my work cut out for me next year!!

Here are a few shots from the boat trip we took out on Lake Kivu. This was the first annual teachers' outing that my school has ever put on and I was very happy to be a part of a new tradition. Hope you enjoy!!

Luckily this bottom picture survived the big delete-a-thon I had to perform when one of the navy guards came over and stood watch; apparently you are not supposed to document the fact that they have huge ships....whoops, guess I just did...


  1. Hi AV,
    You are experiencing the first year teacher guilt trip. I still am worried about that first sixth grade class I "taught." I didn't feel that I really knew what I was doing until the fourth year. Even now I find something I coulda, shoulda done better....
    The pictures are great and I'm glad that you're touring and getting to have these great experiences.
    No snow yet, but we did have our first hard frost last night. Love ya , Aunt Van

  2. Avery!!!!
    I'm so glad I finally found your blog again! I forgot what it was for awhile and it finally appeared on my facebook news feed. Congrats on completing you first year of teaching!! I did too! yay! :) First year is always the hardest and I have definitely learned from my mistakes; however, there will ALWAYS be more to learn.
    I will miss you during the winter skiing season, but I will keep you in my thoughts as I am skiing down the snowy slope!
    Miss you lots! Enjoy your break!