This weekend I got a chance to travel a bit and meet up with another response volunteer, Jordan, at his site by Lake Ruhondo. The north has lakes, volcanoes and gorillas. As pretty as I think my site is, it's hard to argue with that combo. Jordan has not just a lake, but an island in the lake where you can go and enjoy a drink on the water's edge. So of course we did!
Me and Jordan
Another PCV, Erica joined us! :)
The day started out a bit rainy and overcast but that didn't stop us too much!
Despite the initial problems when I first moved in, things are going well. My school is really wonderful with teachers who actually show up and teach class, several female teachers-one in particular who moved to the area last year and "knows how difficult it is to be somewhere new" has taken me under her wing helping me with basic things like buying credit for my electricity meter and making sure I get the right prices at the market.
Schools runs from 7:30 am to 4:30pm with a two hour lunch. There's free lunch at school (usually beans and rice-but yay free food) and so I eat there and then stick around for clubs in the second hour or go home for a short nap/rest.
I'm running the school library (the school has a library!) Kids can come in during the day to use the books and study and just recently the dean of studies gave me the papers so the kids can take home books and study as well. I have my own little domain where I can ready, prepare for class or go on my phone (pretty decent internet here!). The library is a bit disorganized for the moment so I'll also be working on that for the coming months.
Additionally I have three 2 hour long classes once a week with the seniors, juniors and sophomores who are in the "Kinyarwanda, Kiswahili and English" track. It's kind of a supplemental class so I'm supposed to focus on conversation, listening and communication skills. It works out perfectly since I'm just here for the last term that I can sort of jump in wherever and choose topics and classes that I like. All three classes have less than 30 students and the students are pretty well behaved -a bit change from the challenges of Togo! I'm also leading the BeGlow (Boys Excellence, Girls Leading Our World) club which meets at lunch time. They've done a lot with health topics, gender balance and peer pressure with the last volunteer so I'll be trying to work on some leadership activities with them. We'll see how it goes- there's a lot of middle schoolers in the club and their English isn't very strong. I'm working with another teacher to lead the club, but there have been some miscommunications and so we haven't been entirely on the same page so far.
I'm really happy about the work I'll be doing at the school and I think it's a really good fit for the three months that I'm here. I hope to be able to leave the incoming volunteer with lots of information so they can get projects started quickly.
Well, for the second time I've moved into my Peace Corps site. I'm an RPCV but that didn't make it much different from the first time. The mistake of Peace Corps is ever having expectations or thinking that things will turn out well. That way you can be pleasantly surprised when anything remotely good happens. And of course, I let my mind wander and made that mistake. My house is very small, perhaps the same square footage as my house in Togo was, but this one is long and skinny. Its only about 7 or 8 feet wide and about 30 feet long. My latrine is a squatty potty but there is a pipe so you still have to run some water down it. This is problematic as it's the end of the dry season and there isn't much water around. Instead I'm using the family's pit latrine squatter with a very shaky and unhinged door. This is a double bummer because I always have to pee in the night so it's a choice of go out or chamber pot. I'd rather not accidently pee on my floor so that means getting up and heading out. When I arrived there weren't screens on the windows nor a secure front door (a wooden door with easily broken glass and a window next to it were you could stick your hand in and open it from the inside).
They've replaced the door and put screens on some of the windows (though it's currently having the effect of trapping flies inside). Nancy, a nearby volunteer has been kind enough to lend me her hotplate/electric burner for the three months since she doesn't use it much and I'm here for such a short time. It looks like my suitcases vomited all over the house as I don't have any furniture yet, though a shelf/counter should be coming soon. And as difficult as it cane be to move somewhere new- it doesn't matter if it's across town or across the world there's always an adjustment period and then it works out. It's that simple and if two years in Togo have taught me anything it's that çavaaller.
This month has been a whirlwind trip across the USA with airplane rides and 8 hour road trips (overnights in 6 different states and a drive through 3 more). However its been fabulous- I got to see almost all my cousins, a very rare feat, my grandmothers and aunts, college friends, brothers and sister and nieces and nephews. I somehow managed to get everything done, though with significantly less pizza and vegging out on the couch with Netflix than I had predicted. But I got everything done. I could have planned or hoped for a better 30 days in America and it gave me the energy and excitement to start another (albeit far shorter) service at 100%.
But now the bags are packed and it's time to go. I live you so much, America, and I'll see you in November!