Schoolbells are ringing, loud and clear;
Vacation's over, school is here.
Here in Rwanda, the second trimester has just begun. Now that I've gotten better adjusted to my new home, I'm ready to become more active in my school and community.
In the classroom:
This term, I aim to use more learner centered teaching methods (Examples: individual reading, pair work, and group work). I began the first week by organizing students into teams, which we will use throughout the term, and letting them choose team names. Some of the names are great too: The 5 Kings, Wake Up!, G-Unit, Team Jesus, Love of Class, and One Love to name a few gems. For the first lesson, we played boggle and the winning team got stickers (7th graders in Rwanda love stickers and don't think this is childish or dorky at all). My plan for the semester is to re-use these teams to manage the large class size and get students to practice English with each other.
My coworkers and I are beginning to recognize talents of mine which are unique. I have become the school computer guru. All of my coworkers, secretary included, type with their pointer finger. I'm not at all a fast typer, but seeing me put a sentence onto the screen in less than thirty seconds generally elicited surprised laughter from my colleagues. Since exams last semester, I'm occasionally called into the office to help format a word or excel document, fix a computer problem, or type something. At the end of the semester, I want to help more teachers to type their exams, since this will allow me to unobtrusively offer some English suggestions. My other contributions around school have been related to English. Today, a recent secondary school graduate came to our school looking for a job. My headmaster didn't have a written exam to test his English proficiency, so he asked me to evaluate the applicant. I interviewed him for about 10 minutes and determined he was qualified for the job (my first time on the other side of a hiring interview). In addition, I will train teachers and staff in English, beginning tomorrow. It feels great to be helpful.
I am collaborating with a doctor who works at the local hospital to create an English club. My friend, Dr. M., is Congolese. He says that he started learning English by joining English clubs as a kid, and was disappointed when he saw no English clubs in Mibirizi. He wanted to create one to help Rwandan people to learn the language, but did not want to do it alone. This is a good opportunity for me as a Peace Corps Volunteer, because we are encouraged not to lead projects ourselves, but to assist so that projects can become a permanent part of the community we lived in. In addition, hospital staff have been asking constantly for my assistance in teaching them English. By offering them access to the English club (English Together! is the working name), I have an easy way to start giving them assistance.