Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I'm near a computer again in an office that's set up like an office (the kind that I'm, you know, used to. With staplers, even!). Back in Kombo for PC Thanksgiving/all-vol meetings/general hoo-ha, and I've posted all of 5 more pictures on Flickr (see right).
Lots of things going on in my island fastness--or island slowness, depending on the time of day, my energy level and that of others. Lots of other things just being. I'll write more when I'm not impinging on someone else's computer time - bottom line, I'm still figuring out my job at the Regional Education Directorate, meeting people, getting geared up to do my first training next week and then work at the face-to-face training program for teacher trainees over the winter holidays. That means, in practice, for the past few weeks, this is what I do: I go to the office from 9:00-12:00, when the power shuts off until the evening; I hang out, see if anyone is there, maybe read something with a title like "Rural Community Resource Centers," "The Gambia Handbook on Early Grade Reading Abilities (EGRA)" or "Where There Is No Artist" (thanks, mom!) and wait for something on the printer or one of the computers to break. Then I go to the other room, swear at the computer or the printer or both, try to coach the secretaries who are posted there for a few weeks through fixing it, and go back to my book. Or maybe send some text messages about getting more books. Or going on school visits. Or what bitiks on the island have cheese (currently, two!)
In the afternoons, I hang out with my family and complain about the heat--it's cool at night, but plenty sweaty in the afternoons still--have lunch, then retreat to my front room to read and make teaching aids - including an alphabet book that I'll post when I get a clean copy on my usb key, and some other things that I'll try to take pictures of at all-vol. (We're trying for a teaching aid show-and-tell, oh dorky joy!) Also, projects Halloween costume. Which I've already posted pictures of. Priorities, much? Again, thanks mom, this time for the Sharpies, and I promise that I've also used them for things that will benefit Gambian children more directly. Although the costume seems to have brightened some local Gambians' lives considerably, judging from the laughter when I went out the door in it.
Last week I was out and about a lot, visiting schools for the All-Gambia Tree Nursery Competition, looking for seedlings that hadn't been eaten by goats and were reasonably well-protected against further attacks. Didn't get to see too many classrooms, but I did get the luxury of a ride in a Forestry Department 4x4, which at least let me see the outside, and the administrators, of some of the remoter places in Region 5. I'm starting slow. But I think I'm feeling my way. And I'm definitely enjoying myself. Maybe a little too much when it comes to the Sharpies.