29 September 2010

Talk and Chalk, Chalk and Talk...

I am pleased to report that I had a very productive visit to my school attachment yesterday.  The principal and management staff had, in the two weeks I was absent, come up with three specific, long-term projects for me to work on: first, develop some low-cost math activities that engage the kids and reinforce the curriculum.  In fact, the title of this post is a reference to what the math teacher at school dispassionately called the current math activities that fit into the school's budget.  I recommended, in the interest of affordable materials, playing cards and origami activities, but will be developing other new ideas over the next few weeks.  Feel free to submit other ideas as well.  Second, to organize and somehow expand the students' library on-site.  Third, to introduce some new alternatives for after-school extracurricular activities.  At first blush, the last item sounds like a great opportunity to push an introductory chess program – but the sheer reality is, that's exactly what it would be: pushing.  Since the most important aspect of introducing a Peace Corps initiative is to be sure that the program is infused with self-sustaining elements, the better part of which is measured in community "buy-in," I have to defer to activities that have that wide acceptance built in.  And the best idea so far?  Music.  Specifically rhythm, soca, percussion, each of which I have some familiarity with.  So I'm starting to get excited about the idea of co-facilitating a youth rhythm band.

If there's anything I can say to reflect just how much more comfortable I've become with my surroundings in just the past week or two, I would.  I hitched my first lift with a coworker, I walked all the way to the last part of the island I had not been to, I got my ATM card validated, I ate lunch in the city on my own, I shipped a package from the post office.  Best of all, I ran into a coworker at the bank the other day, and there is no feeling like being spotted by a local friend and her feeling comfortable enough to stop me and say "hi."

There has been some mention of care packages sent my way, and the need for shipping info.  Let me first express my greatest thanks to those of you considering remembering me in this way.  But if I could implore you into delaying your generosities for about a month, that would be far more ideal.  The reason is this: while I am staying with my host family, I have basically all of my immediate needs met: food, shelter, laundry, etc.  I am only wanting in cash resources, and that is as much a learning process in budgeting as anything else.  HOWEVER, by this time next month, my situation will have flipped 180 degrees, as I will be entrusted with a moving-in allowance from the Peace Corps to help with household appliances, food, and toiletries.  But even so, there will be a need for something, whether it is because I cannot find a particular commodity or just an affordable one.  For example, a simple stand-up fan, which would normally run $20-30 retail in the US, here is a mind-blowing EC$275, or USD 100.  So I will not know until then exactly what those needs will be, but I will be very forthcoming at that time.  Thank you all again.

Video.  So stop your clamoring for pics and check it out:

1 comment:

  1. A music program is a great idea Chris. In my experience, the children love to play instruments, especially percussions. Plus, they all seem to have amazing rhythm. Good luck!