Friday, May 20, 2011

A month in

My time to spent settling in is winding down and I'm starting to prepare myself for teaching in a Ugandan Primary Teachers' College. I have been filling my time with small tasks such as procuring seeds from the vegetables I cook and then planting them in cut up water bottles I find strewn about the campus. I have eight started so far, four with tomatoes and four with green peppers. They're nothing to write home about yet (I guess technically that's what I'm doing right now, whatever) but I'm hopeful. I have a notoriously black thumb but I figure these two years are as good of a time as any to figure out subsistence farming (there's actually a lot of things I figure these two years are good for, sort of an all expenses paid getting-to-know-myself-and-what-I'm-capable-of retreat.) I've also made pasta and tortillas from scratch - time consuming but really fun, attempted to figure out an appropriate cooking time for dried black beans, perfected my rain collecting/dish washing routine (yes, they're related), made chocolate/PB no-bake cookies twice, developed an unforeseen appreciation for powdered milk (oh, hello again, coffee), and explored bugs and small creatures to an extent that I almost wish I'd taken entomology classes at university. I keep accidentally buying way too many vegetables. One of the standard units of measure here is a "pile" or a "measured heap", that consists of a set number of vegetables for a set price. Three onions for 100/= or four tomatoes for 200/=. I asked for "four" tomatoes the other day and ended up with 16. Four meant four piles, not one pile of four. I made some kick ass marinara sauce with them all.

Baby tomato plants

Staple foods: tortillas, rice, guac. 

homemade pasta :P

I walked up to the college yesterday to check out text books from the resource room. The students don't get text books, so it's up to the tutors (there's that word again, grr) to go through everything and then just do a really good job making notes and summarizing what's in the books. I'm starting out teaching "Pre-mathematical Concepts" and "Measurements". I'm positive that neither of these topics will take the entire term, but my counterpart assures me that once I finish up, I'll just be assigned something new. I checked out eight books with titles like "Primary Mathematics Today: Third Edition for the Age of the Calculator," published in 1982. In fact, no book is more recent than 1994. At least not much has changed in education since then? I mean, numbers are numbers, right? Here in Uganda, all teachers everywhere, in every single school, do their lesson plans the same way. There is a national standard for what lesson plans look like, and it was very much a hot topic of discussion at the workshop I attended last week. Apparently instead of "objectives" we're now supposed to use "competences". That caused some uproar, let me tell you. The organization and labeling of things here carries a lot of weight; appearance is of the utmost importance. I think it's somewhat left over from the British, and somewhat because appearance and organization is what is most easily fixed and the first thing noticed if there is a change. I have a lot more to say on this topic, but I'm not sure quite how to verbalize it all at the moment.

Sitting room

Miss & love you all.

(PS: I'm almost 100% sure I have a kitten on the way! Bernadette's cat is pregnant, or so google says, and as long as she has more than one kitten, I'll be getting one sometime in August or September - Rachel has first dibs. A bientot mice & excess geckos that poop everywhere!)

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