Sep 23, 2009

A Definite Disconnectedness

Lately I've been feeling very disconnected from . . . everyone. I realize that my life is on a different continent, but still, I don't think I planned on this feeling as part of the whole experience. Homesickness: of course it would come. Nigeria-sickness: knew that would come too. Feeling like I can't even remember my summer at camp or my friends from back home: a feeling that completely broadsided me.

Surprise! You're not where everyone else is!

I think part of this feeling comes from the fact that I am too busy to find time to write to people (even on Facebook or in the blogosphere), so I end up not knowing what's going on in the lives of the people I'm close to. I apologize for that.

Why is it that the things to which God so frequently calls us make our hearts ache? I know the answer with my head. I wish that knowledge would travel about a foot south.

Sep 19, 2009

Another Post with Minimal Organization

This week was great. The students did a much better job of behaving, even though I had to give out a few detentions, and I feel like I'm getting back into the rhythm of teaching that I was in during student teaching. It took a little bit, but I'm doing a better job now.

Today we went to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture just north of Ibadan. I felt like I was in Lost, driving through the Dharma Initiative. But it was really great! The food was amazing (I had some great Indian food, and some of my favorite pop here - Schweppes Bitter Lemon) and we got to hang out with 2 of our students: Shuba and Shanti. We drove by vast mown fields with palm trees surrounding them, drove a curvy road through the jungle, passed house after house that looked quite similar (and were colored the same as the Others' homes), and drove by a long lake. When we drove through the jungle, we got out at one point and walked for a quick 2k through bamboo shoots, tall and bendy; jungle vines, hanging low and beautiful; almond trees that spread wide; and ficus trees with giant walls of roots. Butterflies, ants, and many unknown birds were our companions. It was fantastic.

Due to the end of Ramadan being next week, we have a national holiday that means we have Monday and Tuesday off of school (If anyone wants to Skype at that time, I'll try to be online. Let me know what time you want to and I'll do my best to be by my computer (remember the 6 hours ahead time difference (my Skype name is warren.macleod (how's this for a change, no more hyphens, but a ridiculous number of parentheses)))). Funnily enough, we have another short week the next week for Nigeria's Independence Day on October 1st. So we won't have a full week of school for a few weeks now.

I've been noticing that mornings are usually hardest in dealing with homesickness, though it hasn't hit too hard yet. They say that the 3rd week, 3rd month, and 3rd year are hardest for those crossing cultures. Wednesday (the beginning of my 3rd week) was my hardest day so far, but since then I've been doing pretty well.

Random unique trait of Nigerians: They believe cats can be witches and wizards. I've seen only one so far, and that was today at IITA. Several students have written about why they like dogs better than cats, and they've all written that cats are involved in sorcery. Strange, huh?

Do you have any questions you'd like me to answer? It's hard to think about what to share, so if you have questions to guide me, that would help!

Hope your day is going well, and that you have a good weekend!

Sep 11, 2009

School, Food, and the Weekend - A Triptych of My First Full Week in Nigeria

One week of school finished! Today we read books in all my classes. It was awesome Every Friday I'll be reading books to my classes: 5th is reading the Tale of Despereaux, 6th is reading A Wrinkle in Time, 7th is reading Peter Pan, and 8th is reading The Little Prince. It seemed like they're really enjoying those books, which is good.

We've cooked our own food now for the past four nights, which has been actually kind of fun. One of my goals for 2009 was to learn how to cook 5 dishes from different countries. I think that will be easy here. I've already learned how to make several Nigerian dishes, which are quite tasty! Tonight, I made peanut butter. From scratch. That's right. I'm fairly proud of that accomplishment. The awesome thing is that we use this gigantic wooden mortar and pestle to grind it up, and it's really, really fun! I'll be making a bigger batch sometime soon.

Tonight we have a prayer meeting from 10:00pm to whenever (it's supposed to go all night, but we'll probably only stay for a few hours). I'm pretty excited about that, because it's so amazing to hear the Nigerians pray. Tomorrow we go to the market in the morning, plan lessons for the week, and then Mrs. Raj (the secretary) invited us to her house for Indian tea and games. It should be fun. Her daughter Henna is in my 7th grade English class, so it will be fun to see her outside of school as well. Then Sunday, we go to the Nwulu's apartment for a meal. After we go to Church somewhere. Kind of a busy weekend! But it will be fun and hopefully relaxing!

(P.S. Sorry to those of you who have blogs. I've not been very good about reading them, because my Internet time is pretty limited. I'll hopefully have a chance this weekend.)

Sep 3, 2009

An Introduction to Nigerian Culture and ACA

I made it to Ibadan. And it's beautiful.

We got out of the airport at about 7:30 and then drove to Ibadan. We had dinner with Karen and Equi - the principal and manager of the school - and then we went to bed.

The first bit of culture shock that hit me was the driving. I had heard it was bad, but I had assumed that it was Lake-Street-on-a-busy-night bad. Not there-are-how-many-lanes?-and-why-are-these-people-running-in-front-of-our-bus?-and-did-I-just-see-a-motorcycle-driving-ridiculously-fast-the-wrong-way? bad. It will take awhile to get used to.

Today, I met the teachers I'll be with this year. I'm really excited! They're so great and welcoming. :)

We haven't left the school yet, so I haven't yet seen the markets, or experienced too much of the culture, but on Saturday we have some time to leave the school.

Tomorrow, the new students come for a visit day. Then on Monday the other students will come and we'll have a whole day of meet and greet.

Here's my schedule:

I teach 4 classes of English everyday (5-8 grades).
Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach 4th grade reading.
Thursdays and Fridays I teach 8th grade literature.

I'll also be in charge of the singers for the Christmas musical, so for those of you who thought I should teach a glee club, I'll be doing just about that.

Well, I'm going to say goodbye for now, and I'll hopefully put some pictures on facebook or here in the next few days.