Monday, March 28, 2011
West Nile is the Best Nile
The beginning of training is starting to feel like a distant dream as we get closer and closer to being sworn in. Only a month now!
Before my last post about going to Kampala, I had a fairly stressful week in which us primary people went to P.T.C.'s (Primary teacher colleges) to teach classes and observe. Peace Corps wants us to have exposure to PTC teaching because we will all probably be doign some sort of pre-service training like workshops at PTC throughout our service. The idea of teaching still frightens me, and when coupled with the assignment of teaching college level students, I felt like a fainting-goat. I taught three lessons in all- and while the first one felt like a slow and painful train wreck, the subsequent two went well. I taught the intro to poetry to my first class, with absolutely no materials or references, whereas all of my colleagues had plenty because they were teaching things like ITC, math, and science. Awesome. This was sort of great though because it basically gave me free reign to teach whatever I wanted. I think that besides my obvious nervousness and speed of speech, that the lesson went fairly well. I used the Langston Hughes poem "Dreams" to illustrate the different elements in poetry and then at the end had a group activity that basically forced the students to generate metaphors. That sort of flopped, but I wasn't too surprised. HTe next two classes went much better and I team-taught with Erica. This time we taught how to teach poetry to primary students and essentially provided a model class to them. It was really fun because we started out the class by singing "Blackbird" by the Beatles, using the song as an example of a poem. The students loved that we sang and were mch more engaged for the class. It was exciting to realize that I can integrate song and music into my teaching; it definitely resonates with the students.
After our Kampala tour on Saturday, we embarked EARLY Sunday morning for our four days of language immersion. My group had the longest journey; 7 hours to Arua. The bus trip itself felt like a week becase we had to get to tKampala to get on the bus and then sit packed together like sardines on a speeding bus for hours. The landscape however was incredible; we watched it progress from teh moist fertility of the south/central to the more dry savannah of the north. WE drove past the falls and the Nile, saw elephants, hippos and baboons! We also saw the more harrowing site of still existing refugee camps from the long war up north.
Arua was well worth the long journey. I'll try my best to explain why. Arua is the main town in Arua district, which spans from Congo to Sudan. We didn't see much else of Arua distrcit other than the town, but it was great getting to kno the city that we will be living close to for the next two years. I heard that we will all be living within an hour bike ride of the town, which is fantastic. Arua is a bustling little trading center. It does not encompass a large area but it still has the noise, exciemtent, and feel of a larger town. THere is a plethora of markets, food, clothing, bikes, adn the town is absolutely dominated by bikes! We spent our time eating rolexes (a divine combination of grease, ciapatti and eggs), bartering at markets, greeting everyone we saw, making commubnity contacts, meeting with community leaders, learning about the language and culture, and eating out! We also went dancing one night, which was hilarious. Apparently in West Nile, it is taboo for men and women to dance with each other at clubs, so instead what you see when you enter such a place, are a few guys grinding together in a corner, and women dancing in front of mirrors. hehe. I introduced myself using my Lugbara name that my family gave me, "Ayikoru" which means joy or happiness, and everyone cracked up every time. I think that I will definitely keep that name when I livei n West Nile because Ilse is rreally hard for most people, and I love the name Ayikoru.
In general, I was most excited about the p[eople that I met in West Nile. They are known for their friendliness, especially the Lugbara, and there was not one person that I met who didn't have a huge grin on their face when I greeted them or walked past them. The entire town echoes with laughter and loud music, and of these things, I am very fond.
In other news, this weekend I went to my first Ugandan celebration, a graduation party, in which apparently people form giant congo lines to give gifts to the graduate. Once you get to the front of the line, you have to have a dance off with teh graduate before you give them your gift. Awesome. See picture above.
Posted by Ilse