Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day in the Life

It is just before 6:30 in the morning. I have been up for half an hour doing my exercises. I get up before the sun, but by now it has started to brighten outside, giving shape to the shadows next door and at the nearby schools.

The village buses from all over the island have been running for at least an hour and at this time of day they are packed to bursting with tamaiti ([kah-my-key in the k language] students). Students have already started to arrive at our schools, walking the long, covered path from the bus stops to the buildings. At Cale's school members of the rugby team are practicing in a large field out front. Their voices carry to where I am doing my meager ten push ups.

Next door the neighbor is taking one final look at her yard, checking to make sure everything is pristine and tidy. There is an inspection today and she wants to make sure it looks its best.

Cale will be up soon, so I pour hot water on coffee in his French press and start toasting the bagels he made over the weekend.

I put off taking an ice-cold shower by grading a students word-processing IA and checking my email, but I cannot put it off any longer. It is 7 a.m. now. Classes start at eight, but teachers are supposed to arrive at the school by 7:30. I only have a first period class on Thursday. The rest of the week my classes do not start until 8:50 or later.

Today I am giving my students a test on word-processing programs and concepts. The test is almost identical to a worksheet I gave them the week before and the worksheet was identical to an assessment I gave them on the first day of our word-processing section. I am hoping that if I keep testing them on the same concepts they will eventually sink in.

I give tests second, third and sixth periods. The other three periods of the day I have free period. I was giving extra lessons during those periods, but I have stopped. The students were overloaded with computer theory and sick of learning the same concepts over and over. If they have not grasped it by this point, it is probably time that I stop harping on it. Instead I usually have about 20 students in the room. Thirteen of them are using the working computers, practicing typing with typing games or making hideously decorative documents using Microsoft Word Art. Even when there are not enough computers, my students come to this room during the free periods to work on other assignments. It is nicer to work in an air-conditioned room and I don't mind as long as they are well-behaved.

After the last bell rings, I stay after to work with a student who was suspended from school last week. He was suspended for missing a week of school the week before that, so he has missed a great deal of the word-processing section and he missed sitting the IA. Yesterday we went over all the assignment sheets he missed, covering in an hour what the other students covered in a week. Today after school we practice the IA. He requires a lot of assistance and I am concerned about how he will do on Friday when he will have to sit the IA with out assistance.

When I am done I head home to face a massive pile of dishes. Yesterday was the recently renamed Any-Food-Including-Burgers Tuesday (you may remember its earlier incarnation, Burger Wednesdays). Cale made eggplant parmigiana with bruchetta and pear with yogurt for dessert. There were five of us. Cale and I, Alo and Nao and another JICA volunteer whose name I cannot spell. She has only been in country for two months and will be teaching martial arts skills to the police department.

All of that delicious food meant lots of dirty dishes that I didn't feel like cleaning last night. The dishes take several goes. While I wait for more water to boil in between each batch, I read a Time magazine from January that my Mom and Dad sent in a package a while back. The news is old, but the stories are still good.

Also in between dishes, Cale makes rice and refried beans for a small lunch. Nao stops by to use our printer and to borrow the printer cord to see if his printer is broken or if it is just the cord.

Once the dishes are done I start a load of laundry. First I boil two kettles of water and mix it with cold water from the tap in the wash bucket in the bathroom. Then I throw in clothes and let them sit for 20 minutes. When the time is up, I scrub the clothes and wring them out, piling them in another bucket. I dump out the dirty wash water and rinse the clothes in the wash bucket. I only rinse a couple of items at a time, continually dumping out the soapy water and refilling with clean water. The clothes get wrung out again and taken outside to the line. If I am lucky, I will remember to take them down after school tomorrow. Sometimes I can forget and leave things on  the line for days. Sometimes they get rained on if I do that.

Once the laundry is done, I steal the computer off the bed where Cale has fallen asleep watching an episode of Planet Earth. His mother sent us the series in a package recently and we cannot stop watching. It is an amazing series. I recommend it to everyone. There is already a list of other volunteers who want to borrow it when we are done.

I take the computer to our office and get to work on the text book I am creating for my students on the spreadsheets section we will be studying next term. I must finish the book before the end of this term so I can have copies made before the break. I use the PSSC prescription to create the book, making sure that everything listed in the prescription is covered in the book. I created a similar book for the students for the word-processing section and learned a lot from that one. I have improvements in mind for the spreadsheet book already.

While I work on my book, Cale wakes up from his nap and makes us a salad with hard-boiled egg for dinner. With his new schedule of eight classes a day, he can be very tired when school gets out.

Around 8:30 pm we set up the computer in the bedroom so we can lay back and watch an episode of Planet Earth. The show is only one hour long and is utterly fascinating, but I can still barely keep my eyes open by the end.

By 10pm we are asleep. The alarm will wake me up tomorrow at 6am to do it all over again.

— Sara

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