Another Week Down

Peace Corps Training is slowly moving along as we work toward becoming official Peace Corps Volunteers!

Our first full week in the classroom here in Butajira was very exciting! Here is a quick outline of my daily schedule to give you an idea of what training has been like this week.

This week’s daily schedule M-F (Saturday we only have language from 8am-11am):

7am-8am: Each morning I wake to a wonderful breakfast prepared by my host family. It typically consists of eggs, scrambled or in a patty. They also serve me bread, peanut butter, preserves, and a banana. I drink tea with my breakfast and then buna after breakfast before heading to class.

8am-10am: Amharic language class. I’m slowly progressing but I am finding it to be a difficult language to grasp. We have wonderful teachers and at this point in our learning we have small class sizes. My language class has only two other Peace Corps trainees.

10-10:30am: ShyBuna(tea and coffee) break. We also use this time to walk to our schools to begin lesson planning for the day’s lessons. My school is about a 10 minute walk up a huge hill.

10:30-12:30pm: Lesson planning at our schools, the 70 education trainees in Butajira are spread among several different schools in the area teaching grades 9-12. This week we co-taught two lessons a day. With our partners, we planned two, 40 minute, lessons and prepared visual aides. My partner and I have been teaching 9th grade students and have had anywhere from 6-15 students so far. Since this is an option summer program for students who want to improve their English, classes vary each day and are slowly growing. I may have up to 60 students in my class when I get to my site.

12:30-2pm: Walk back home for lunch. My host mother and sisters are amazing cooks. I really haven’t had anything that I didn’t like. Most meals consist of injera, a pancake like sour dough bread. They unroll the injera onto their plate and then serve several different types of food on top. There are thick stews called wat as well as familiar food such as cabbage, spinach or greens, carrots, and potatoes. They usually have 3-4 different foods to put on the injera. We then eat only with our hands, tearing off a piece of injera and scooping up the food. I love it!

2-3:30pm: Teaching! This week, like I said, we co-taught. However, next week, we are on our own! We will teach one lesson each day and will be observed each lesson by Peace Corps and by a peer from our school. Wish me luck!

3:30-4:30/5:30: We have a self reflection time and time to speak to our supervisors about how our lessons went. Most lessons are observed by a supervisor so they can give us tips and constructive criticism about our classes. So far, the toughest part of teaching has been ‘Teacher Talk.’ As an English as a Second Language teacher, it is important to speak at a slow and steady pace as well as limit the number of words and vocabulary. Of course, when I get a little nervous, it is easy to ramble in order to fill the void!

Long and exhausting days, dinner at home, followed by a bit of studying for the next day’s Amharic lesson. Repeat.

Quick story:

Yesterday, during language class, my young brother ran into my classroom. He was out of breath and spoke very quickly in Amharic. My Language teacher then turned to me and said, “You left your water on?!?!” I tried to think of what he could mean, since I don’t have a sink or any source of water that is solely mine. I quickly realized that I had just filled my 20 liter water filter and it must be leaking!Of course my family couldn’t get into my room because we have locks for our doors. I ran home quickly with my brother at my side and arrived to see water seeping out from under my bedroom door. As I entered, I found water covering the majority of my bedroom floor. Since we don’t have cabinets or shelves, a lot of my belongings stay on the floor. I quickly grabbed my super absorbent camping towel and began mopping up my bedroom. I checked my water filter to see if I had overfilled it…nope. I eventually found the source of the water and realized that there was a small hole in the side of the filter, about 4 inches from the top. As water filtered down from the top bucket, it was immediately trickling out of the hole in the side of the bottom bucket. I dragged my huge filter outside to empty some of the water. I hung several of my belongings outside on the clothesline to dry and my sisters helped me mop up the mess that had created a muddy trail all through the hallway of our house!

At the end of the day the only thing that was ruined was a deck of cards, luckily I brought a few decks! With a week spent in the classroom, that was my excitement for the week! We do get Monday off from all classes and lessons because it is the end of Ramadan. We are all looking forward to a bit of a break and are hoping to see a bit of the area on a hike. Since our weekends are really only 1 1/2 days, this 2 1/2 day weekend will surely recharge our batteries a bit!

Thanks for following along on my Peace Corps training adventure and hope to hear from you soon!

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