26 May 2017
Where am I?
- Kinazi Sector, Huye District, Southern Province, Rwanda
What’s happening in my life?
I’m a month an a half into my second term of teaching. I think I’m doing better at some things including pacing (last term. I tried so hard to cover all the material that I lost a lot of kids along the way) and focus (I’ve realised that it’s unreasonable to expect these kids to easily understand difficult, abstract concepts in English—especially concepts that aren’t usually emphasised in this culture or in these schools—and am instead focusing on giving them a basic understanding of the concepts as grounds for practising their English comprehension, writing, and speaking). I still have ongoing difficulties with classroom management and accurately assessing how well they do or don’t understand.
My first seemingly successful project is off the ground: tomorrow will be the third rehearsal of a choir for secondary students at my school. I’ve had around 90 kids at each of the precious rehearsals. They’re incredibly enthusiastic and seem to love singing. Some of our initial struggles include a lack of resources (our resources currently include an electric piano, my prior knowledge of music, the kids’ voices, a few copies of sheet music, and whatever visual aids I can make from scratch) and a lack of previous music training (for example, these kids can sing quite well, but they tend to sing whatever harmony they want). And then, of course, there’s the language barrier. But we’re having fun and I hope this will give them an enjoyable, low-stakes way to learn vocabulary and practise pronunciation.
How can you pray for me?
It’s so easy to feel stressed, burdened, and anxious here. It’s difficult to feel that I’m doing enough, especially when I compare myself to other PCVs. Pray for contentment with my situation and my abilities and for the confidence to continue doing my work without comparing myself to others.
With a hundred different things—professional and personal—demanding for my attention, it’s easy to forget why I’m here and to get sidetracked by my own desires or my own exhaustion. Pray for awareness of when I’m moving off track and pray for energy to continue pursuing the jobs I’m here to do rather than only trying to make myself comfortable.
Some days I think my relationships in the village and at school are doing great. Other days I feel like I will never really know anybody here. Today I had a site visit and found out that my headmaster and sector officials had great things to say about me. I also found out that because I’m very quiet, many people think I’m an American spy (a common suspicion here, apparently; I’ve also been asked on the bus by strangers if I’m a spy). Pray that I can find ways to converse with people despite our language and culture barriers, for openness both from my Rwandan neighbours and friends and from myself, and for understanding among us.
My students are serious troopers given all the obstacles they face, from a lack of resources to a new curriculum without textbooks to having to understand an American who doesn’t know their language and often forgets to speak slowly. They genuinely want to succeed and in general they do, despite all the difficulties they have to overcome. Pray for tenacity on both our parts to continue understanding and making ourselves understood, for patience when we challenge.
I’m grateful for all the encouragement and support I’ve received so far. Thank you for coming along on this adventure!