02 October 2008

BEAUTIFULmindZ

The past two weeks have been amazing! I've finally started my job at the inspection, and I've been spending a lot of time with my neighbors. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming, and I've been practicing hausa like a crazy man. This week was the end of Ramadan, so everyone was celebrating and finally, stuffing their faces and burning hot coals to make tea again. So, during the day that the fast ends, referred to as Salla, it is customary to bring your neighbors and friends food. Food huh? Well, I know that my American tastes and sensibilities are much different from those of Niger. I ended up taking some fresh grapefruit to my next door neighbors and penne pasta with tomato sauce and veggies to the guys that I sit with down the street. They were all surprised that I cooked the food myself, and they actually finished it all!
Work at the Inspection is also going well. There is another volunteer that works here in the city, and we are going to be doing a lot of collaborative work this year. We are going to run an English club on the weekends, and work with local Nigerien NGO's to provide literacy classes and computer trainings to members of the COGES (Parent Teacher organizations that are in charge of managing and administering all academic institutions). I was a little nervous at first, because I didn't quite know what projects or activities to bring. My counterpart and I are going to be focusing on these few things during this year. The promotion of girl's education--this is crucial. If Niger is going to advance, they absolutely must educate their girls and ensure their continued education through high school AND university; how to effectively run a meeting and keep records--this is needed to ensure that money is not being embezelled, but also to ensure that meetings and school administration is running as efficiently as possible; School equipment preservation--this includes books, computers (if available), copy machines, typewriters, etc.; Classes on how to look for funding--COGES gropus are responsible for finding funding for school materials and books, we want to do tranings to help them learn how to search fo funds on the internet; Literacy classes for members of the COGES that truly support the cause of education, but were unable to attend schools--there are many rural parts of the country that have very few schools. For example, in the town where our training was conducted, there was a middle school but no high school. The high school was 30 kilometers away in the nation's capital; and lastly, feedback--how can these Parent Teacher groups improve themselves, what are they doing well, what are they doing poorly, what needs to be improved? how can we help them! During these first few months, the plan is to visit all of these organizations and their respective schools to see what's going well! I love this project because we're not giving money, we're building capacity. These skills will do wonders for the administration of these schools. I'll keep you posted.

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