28 August 2008

Dreaming I’s/EYES

This morning, I experienced through dreaming eyes, the realities and barriers of education in Niger. Today, through dreaming eyes, and willing hands, I met many school administrators that were motivated about changing their schools, finding more resources for the ever growing student population, and creating more educational opportunities for their students. My inspector asked me to accompany him to four schools located near the city. Two of the schools that I visted had middle school and high school students and the other two only had middle school students. The campuses were very quiet, very modest, and a few of them were noticeably overcrowded. At one of the schools that I visited, there were not enough classrooms from all of the students, so chalk boards had been affixed to the sides of buildings. Initially, I thought I would see only a few of these wall-side classrooms, but as I continued to tour the campus with the administrators, I saw more than six. Some of the buildings had been damaged by the water and heavy winds of the rainy season. As I continued to tour with many of the administrators, they told me that most of the children were without books, and the school had no money to provide them with notebooks, paper, and pens. After talking more with my inspector, he stressed the importance of working with the COGES organizations, and trying to find funding so that the students can have supplies. I hope that with Niger’s 10-year educational reform plan, many of these issues can be resolved. I was also very fortunate today to meet many students that were attending summer school classes. In the few classes that I observed, the students were learning chemistry, English, trigonometry, and French! In the states, most of us just take one or two subjects during the summertime, but these students were each taking about five or six. Pretty impressive huh!? As I had found out a day earlier, most of the students don’t really understand French, so I took the initiative to try and do some learning today. For about two days, I’ve been eyeing the hausa-english dictionary of the volunteer that I’m replacing. Today, I finally took the dictionary and a floor mat, and walked down the street in front of the fire station to practice my conversational Hausa with a few of the firefighters and the men that sit around there and talk. So, I figured out that I have a lot to learn, and that a lot of the Hausa that I’ve been learning at site doesn’t really correspond to the regional Hausa spoken here. Aahah, it’s never ending. But I guess it’s the hard work that makes it all worth it right? On Saturday, we head back to site for two more weeks, then swear in, and then I’ll be back here permanently. I feel so much better about staying here. My coworkers are really nice, and we share so many of the same interests. My neighbors are also very friendly, and I feel that they are really looking out for me. When I left the shady tree that we were all hanging out under this afternoon, they instructed me to come back after I ate lunch so that we could practice more vocabulary. I guess it really does take a village to raise a child. Their village is one more Peace Corps Volunteer strong!

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