Sunday, May 31, 2009
I am teaching English, two KSL classes, and a Creative Arts class. Though it's only 4 classes a day, I feel like I'm constantly teaching, my hands are constantly moving (sign language), and my mind is constantly straining (how to get the information out effectively). I have a total of 70 students and I feel that ALL 70 NEED ATTENTION! However, I'm realizing this is near impossible. During break time, when it's suppose to be my time to relax and have tea with the teachers, I'm in the classroom clarifying my assignments and lessons to the students. During lunch time, when I'm suppose to be EATING, I'm in the classroom helping the slower-learning students with a slower teaching technique. I even risked my life (no joke) and came to school to teach at night last Thursday, which they all loved, but I almost fell through the door on my face when I got home I was so tired.
If that isn't enough, the principal has requested I teach KSL to the teachers (which they desperately need) because I'm supposedly the "expert". Last Friday was our first meeting...only 12 of the 26 teachers showed up, but that's a start. It was fun to see them starting to realize how visually beautiful sign language is. When I showed them a person WALKING (a directional sign), they all laughed but thought it was cool :)
One thing I had been trying to weasle out of but seems that it was meant-to-be from the start is teaching HIV/AIDS to Deaf college students. The volunteer before me was more of an HIV teacher than a subjects teacher, like me. So the college expected I would be the same. Oh no... I tried to explain my load is much heavier than the last volunteer, but they pushed and pushed and I finally gave in. Yesterday was the first class I taught at the college. Only 7 students go there, but that's enough for me! As I began to teach about Malaria, Homa (cold), TB (illnesses they know) and then compare them to HIV, I realized that there is a reason for me being here. Even though the last volunteer was their teacher, they apparently forgot about myths like sharing a spoon/toothbrush, or shaking hands with an infected person will NOT spread HIV. They all were against me, saying "YES IT DOES!" even the Deaf teacher. But after I said again and again that HIV is contracted through blood and semen only (sex, needles, open wounds, breast milk, etc), they were like OH... it was a lot of fun and as I teach them, I'm learning SO MUCH myself. I gave them the example of Magic Johnson and how some NBA players were against him also. Then at the end I passed out notebooks and told them to write each illness 10 times...spelling test next week. They loved it! We're even gonna do a few trips to the VCT and hospital.
I won't even get started on my secondary project with the school board!
Whew! Yeah, I think at the end of these 2 years I will for sure have acouple of gray braids! But knowledge is power and truly these students, teachers, and myself are all going to be much stronger, as long as we ALL give our ALL...
Friday, April 10, 2009
my rooms on the left, kitchen on the right
washing clothes/dishes area
the outside water tank straight ahead
Monday, April 6, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Let me be blunt: my Kiswahili sucks! I haven't given it my all (as I have with sign language) to learn anything past greetings. Therefore, I am very insecure about talking with people in their language. The first week in Machakos, I had a lot of enthusiasm. I walked into a shop and said,
"Habari yako? Soda moja tafadali" (How are you? One soda please)
they stare...shake heads
"Moja soda" (One soda)
I point to the corner.
They bring the soda
They asked me, "Why do you not know Kiswahili? You live here, you should know it. How do you communicate?"
"I'm American, here with the Peace Corps. I'm still learning."
They handed me my change and I left.
Ever since that day, I've realized how insecure I am to even say hi to people in Kiswahili. People perceive me as Kenyan so when my accent is heard and I make mistakes I feel a little embarrassed, like "dang, Aneesah, you're black, you should know this language by now!" Even the kids intimidate me! My neighbors have a butt-load of children who are always running around. When I walk up they stop and stare at my "weird"clothes and probably wonder why I carry a water bottle all the time. I always want to play with them, teach them some sign language, put flowers in their hair. But I find myself keeping quiet most times, so they will just think I'm Kenyan and not know I can't speak the language, saving myself the embarrassment. With Deaf people I'm very bold and can talk until the cows come home (which is usually around 5pm), but with the rest of the community, it's definitely going to take some time. For now, I'll try to focus on school and hopefully everything else will turn out as sweet...
have any suggestions?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I would have to say I feel pretty luck to be at this school. We have over 200 Deaf kids and during the first week of me being here they all thought I could remember their names and sign names! Yeah right! But they are such a joy to be around. Deaf children, especially, are very energetic and expressive with one another. One of my kids in 7th grade can immitate those dancers who poplock! It's so funny to see him pump his chest out to some unknown beat in his head, just like the Jabbawokees on MTV! And actually he looks just like the guy from that movie Breakin, who was dancing on the walls and ceiling! (that may be too far back for some of you). Last Thursday I stayed after to watch the kids run around the track. I must of been bambarded with a million questions! As I slowly backed away from the mob, they would get closer. I felt like Michael Jackson on tour! One girl refused to run; she's a little thicker than the rest, so we have something in common. After bribing her with gum and telling her I'll run with her, she finally got up. She and I, in my cute black dress in 120 degree weather, powerwalked around the track 4 times. All the kids cheered and I think she felt loved. I didn't beat or yell at her, I just treated her with respect...then gave her candy.
My Machakos kids are a true breath of fresh air. Their minds, curiosity, and playfulness are the same as American children. They want attention, they want to learn, and they want to use my camera ALL THE TIME. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't even be in Kenya, in the Peace Corps. So let me give a shot out to my Machakos kids! They're the best! (and we'll prove that at National Deaf games. Ginnie, Alyssa, and other Deaf ed schools ain't got nothin on us!)
Sunday, March 8, 2009
She has become a great resource for learning the language. Last Friday the dance team performed for the women's prison, which is right next door. We arrived a little after 11am, but as you will learn about Africa, time is NOT of the essence. The actual program didn't start until 4 hours later, so there was a lot of time on our hands to chit chat. My friend was cracking me up with all her slang signs and facial expressions. If I can make a comparison for those of you who may be a little confused, it's like watching an episode of Bernie Mac, Martin Lawrence, or Seinfield...you sit down, watch the program and laugh because of the way words and phrases are delivered. There's highs and lows in tone pitch, there are pauses at the perfect moment, and there may even be some body language that sends you doubled over on the couch. The same thing with Deaf people! I thought I was going to pee my pants! Right there in front of all the kids, teachers, guards and prisoners! I didn't though. Whew!
Here are some of the slang signs I've learned: Robber (B, flat hand cutting the side of your throat), an adulterous man (B, flat hand, brush cheeks), a person who takes money, white collar crimes (grab money then fold your arms), and a woman with a big butty (R, make a half circle like outlining the butt). She does the last one with the funniest expression! From these few signs you can guess the kind of topics we've talked about :)
I hope by the end of these 2 years I'll be able to master ALL the slang signs and fit like a glove in with the Deaf community. Now flowing with the Hearing community is another story...