Jul 5, 2011

In Which the Author Pulls an Annoying Stunt

Well, after nearly two years of my "Tendril of Thought" blog, I am switching to a new address that will be focused on my upcoming experiences in China. If you would like to continue following my adventures on the other side of the world, you can read along here.

Thanks for reading!

Jun 28, 2011

On Somethings I Will Miss

I recently wrote about something I would not miss about living in Nigeria. This post is a list of things I will miss about living there. I realize that lists like this can be boring sometimes, so if you don't read through, that's ok. I certainly won't hold it against you.

1. Ready for a non-shocker? The thing I'm going to miss most is the people. Namely my students, my old coworkers, my South African and other expat friends, the people in the market, the people who I don't know but walk up to me and start talking as though they've known me their whole lives.

2. I'm going to miss the food. I really loved Nigerian food. Fufu, egusi, yam porridge, rice and beans, plantain, and all that other good stuff. It took me a few weeks to get used to it, but now I will miss it a lot.

3. The way that it is considered impolite if you don't greet someone even if they are across the street from you. This was frustrating at times, but it was always nice to be acknowledged.

4. The convenience of buying basically anything you want without getting out of your car. Nigeria doesn't often beat the States in convenience, but here it does. You can buy food, car supplies, generators, brooms/mops, geese or other fowl, goats, medicine, paintings of Obama (or other subjects), and just about anything else without even getting out of your car. You just stop at the side of the road when you see something you want and then ask for it.

5. The way that Nigerians get so excited when you say even the simplest word in Yoruba, Hausa, or Igbo. They just love when foreigners can say anything in their heart language!

6. The importance that family has in Nigerian culture. Family is so much more important than it is in the States for most people.

7. The feeling that you're in Africa.

8. Seeing women and children carrying gigantic and heavy loads on the tops of their heads.

9. The interesting treelines. Between palm, fig, umbrella, locust, and other random types of trees, you can really enjoy just looking at the tops of trees as they alternate between tall and short, wide and narrow.

10. The sound of the rain falling on the tin roofs. It can be far too loud sometimes, but I always loved hearing the patter (or pounding) of rain.

There are lots of other things that I will miss, but I'm going to finish this list here for now.

If you had to move, what would you miss the most?

Jun 13, 2011

About Something I Will Not Miss

You know that I like Nigeria, right? I do. A lot. I like the food, the people, the landscape, and the heat (heh, not even a little bit for that last one). And the closer I get to finishing my time here, the more I realize how much I'm going to miss it, even with frustrations like the following.

I am still not used to the Nigerian government's lack of planning and communicating. Today I am supposed to be going to Lagos to get more pages put into my passport, because it's full from all of the Nigerian visas and other stamps that I have had to receive during various travels. However, as we are ready to leave this morning, guess what we hear? The government has declared today as a public holiday.

When did they declare this? A few weeks ago? Nope. Last night on the radio. No newspapers, websites, or any other form of communication. The sad thing? This is not the first time this year that this has happened. Closer to the third or fourth (I've lost track of how many surprise public holidays we've had), one of which was for two weeks.

So now, I'm not sure what's going to happen. I'm really hoping that I can get these pages put in before I leave Nigeria, or else I'm not sure how I'll be able to get more pages put into my passport AND a Chinese visa during my very limited time in the States.

Oh, Nigeria. Of all the things I will miss about you, last-minute changing of plans is not one of them.

Jun 4, 2011

In Which Two Students Are Accused of Flirting and What Follows

So awhile ago, I posted about a student of mine who claimed that another had stolen his puberty. Today we went on a field trip and he had another great one-liner.

He (we'll call him George) and a fifth-grade girl (we'll call her Henrietta) were sitting in the back of the van as we were coming back from a photography club field trip. They were being noisy and argumentative in that way that middle school boys are with middle school girls. Here is the conversation that followed:

Other Students in Van: Mr. Warren, can you tell George and Henrietta to stop making so much noise and arguing with each other?
Me: Oh, don't worry about them. They're just flirting with each other.
All: (silence for a moment, then explosion of sound)
Student 1: (catching my joke) Oh, yeah. I did see him try to put his arm around her.
Student 2: They must really like each other.
George: I DO NOT!!!! EWWW!!!!
Henrietta: UGH! I would NEVER flirt with HIM!!!!
Student 1: No, I think it was flirting.
George: IT WAS NOT!!!
Student 2: Whoa, George calm down.
George: I AM CALM!!!! (By the way, he really was shouting all of this ridiculously loud. I'm not just being annoying)
Student 2: It sounds like you're getting pretty defensive to me.
George: I'm not defensive! I'm never defensive! . . . I'm offensive!!!!

After a moment of laughter on my part, I finally told all the students that I wasn't being serious and that George and Henrietta were just enjoying the ride a little too loudly. I sincerely hope that some more great phrases come out of George's lips before the end of my time here! :)

On Turning Twenty-Five

My birthday this year wasn't phenomenal. It wasn't blow-my-socks-off crazy. It didn't involve any big exciting event or even anything really special.

But I still enjoyed it a lot.

My kids - they are so sweet - they took the time to make me cards. Most of them were making them in class while we were reviewing for a test (it's hard to tell students to stop doing something when you know they are doing it because they love you) and any time I would come close to their desks, they would quickly cover up what they were doing and pretend they were paying complete attention. It was really cute (Thank goodness the review was just a precaution - they still did well on their tests). Most of the students, along with wishing me a happy birthday, also took the opportunity on their cards to ask me to stay for another year. One student wrote, "Pleaz, pleaz, do, not travle to China. You know that you are my best teacher I have meeted befor and I can't learn wen you are not hear" (You'll have to forgive her English. She just started speaking it this year).

I even got some really great gifts! A full set of Indian clothes from a student (!), a polo shirt, a birthday cake, another birthday cake, a bouquet of yellow roses that were hand-made by a student out of silk (I was REALLY impressed by that one), a CD of how to cook Nigerian sauces, a fedora, and a birthday message and accordion song from a friend far away (great video:). It was almost overwhelming.

I think, that when it comes time for me to say goodbye to my students, that I am going to struggle.