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21Publish - Cooperative Publishing
Entries "February 2007":

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Library - feb 1


Well work's back in full swing.  I teach 24 hours a week, run the English club, the FAWE club and work in the library 6 or 7 hours a week.  It's hectic, especially considering that's all crammed into 4 days of work.  Hey I'm not complaining, I like my Fridays off.  Working in the library has been great.  I've implemented a library card system that's working like a charm and the students are using the library more than ever.  We've got a schedule on the door that we more or less respect, two big tables for reading, even a book display.  It's great.  The school administration has been really helpful now that they know that it's work the effort.  I may even manage to squeeze some more furniture out of them.  I've put some of the more difficult children's books in the library for students to improve their English, and just get the hang of reading stories, turning pages, enjoying the experience.  The principal just put a new collection of African books, children's stories and tales in all three languages.  The students are getting into a routine of coming in, reading, studying, taking out books and returning them!  It seems like a simple thing but it's taken a while to get it going.  I had two moments this week that filled me with glee, almost to the point of tears.  The school electrician and the boy who runs the cantine have made 2 or 3 visits to the library and they huddle together, poring over children's books in Kinyarwanda, reading aloud, pointing at the pictures, laughing and explaining the story to each other.  And then today, as I walked by crowds of kids playing volleyball in circles, I noticed a small group of boys huddled together by the fence.  As I approached I heard the voice of Suku (a very dynamic, eccentric boy with a penchant for drama).  There were five or six boys hanging on his every word.  As I got even closer I saw that he had "Anansi and the Magic Stick" (one of the children's books donated by my mom) in his hand and was dramatically reading the story to the other boys.  They were completely enthralled as he animated the story and showed them the pictures.  I almost exploded with joy... My students are READING!!!!!!

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog
slow - January 18th

It seems like no matter how long I spend here some things won't get any less frustrating. 

In many ways my life here in Rwanda is much less stressful than it would be in Canada.  People don't really expect you to work day and night and it seems that whatever you do is probably a little more than the next guy.  Of course the next guy is working three jobs, finding school fees for his niece, and wondering if his father will be put in prison next week.  So it's no surprise that given one job, a higher salary, and no family obligations here in Rwanda to speak of that my productivity and reliability might be a little higher.  Everything moves more slowly and so, after the first few weeks of struggling to swim upstream, one just adapts, slows the walking pace down, sits comfortably in silence, stops to greet people and banter before asking for information or favors.  Expectations for accomplishing tasks are altered:  the bank and the market are enough for one day; reorganizing one shelf of the library is enough for this week; one activity for the English club is enough for one term; one quiz and one paragraph are enough for the term.  I truly can take time to stop and smell the roses (and I do have some in my garden), read (so many of my colleagues at Heart Lake lamented their lack of reading time, but here I have no problem), just talk and talk and talk and drink cup after cup of tea.  I think I truly will have a hard time giving up that lifestyle.

But... like I said, after 17 months in Rwanda, there are still some things that set my stomach to churning, my jaw to clenching, and my brain to fantasizing about a variety of ‘losing it' scenarios like jumping up in the middle of a staff meeting and screaming "Could we just make a f@*%ing decision!  For f#%*'s sake what is wrong with you?", or snatching a branch off a nearby tree and lashing the local children while screaming "Comment t'appelle TU? You little f*#@ers!!!!" Phew!  Now that I have that out of my system... this is what they don't tell you about culture shock... there are some things you will NEVER understand.  Like why ANYONE (let alone EVERYONE) would want to make an already painfully dull staff meeting longer by repeating what the previous guy just said or whining about something that the school administration has NO control over.  Or why every time we deliberate on the school year (who passed, who failed) we have to all express our OPINION over what the guidelines should be on who passes and who fails when the Ministry of Education has already published the criteria??!!?? and our opinions won't count in the end anyway.  Or why as we sit enjoying a beer and food after the meeting, someone always has to stand up and summarize the evening "We are here, eating together and drinking together, exchanging ideas, discussing life, and increasing our sociability.  We had a good meeting where we discussed many interesting and important things.  Our principal gave us some very interesting information, listened to our problems, and we will work together to find solutions.  You might say we will collaborate, co-operate, work as a team.  And that's why it's important for us to be here together, to build .... Blah blah blah blah."  You're bored already aren't you?  That practice doesn't annoy me so much anymore because I know that the speaker is only expressing their happiness and showing respect and at least, in the bar, after the meeting, I'm not anxious to get anywhere else or accomplish anything... I just drink my beer, sit back, smile and hope no one asks me to speak.

I guess that's really when I know I'm experiencing a cultural difference; when I don't understand why people are acting the way they are and more importantly, why NO ONE else is reacting the way I am.  People sit through those meetings and are completely unmoved by the 4 hours that go by without any end in sight.  As a slow rage burns inside my gut and my face contorts with the effort to keep control of my frustration, everyone else seems completely unmoved.  Elson leans over in the meeting to me and says "Are you sad?"  Sad?  No, why would I be sad?  "Are you sick then?"  Sick?.... Sick of this meeting maybe. 

Woah, that was quite a rant.  Thanks again to anyone who read this far.  Please don't take these random outbursts as anything more than venting... I Love Rwanda!

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Written by: cathie78    in: My travelblog