27 March 2017
Where am I?
- Kibuye, Rwanda
- Just for a week, and then I’m headed back home to Kinazi. I’m currently in a lovely hotel right on Lake Kivu, and I’m soaking in the hot showers and lovely views.
What’s happening in my life?
- In-Service Training (IST)
IST marks six months in country and the end of my first term of teaching in Rwanda. For a week my entire cohort is back together in a hotel for all-day training sessions related to various aspects of our work here, including technical sessions, language training, and project planning/grant writing instruction.
I’ve just finished my first term of teaching, and the job is incredibly difficult, incredibly rewarding, and incredibly overwhelming all at once. I teach 12 hours a week and can’t imagine how I would cope with a full-time schedule. My kids are S2 (roughly 8th grade), S4 (roughly 10th grade), and S5 (roughly 11th grade). Every day brings new challenges. The most difficult thing is the language barrier. Many of these kids are whip-smart, but they have low English comprehension and therefore find it difficult to understand my teaching, especially in classes that are not specifically English classes but that are taught in English, such as literature or general studies, in which they’re required to understand abstract concepts in a foreign language. We’re working together toward higher comprehension and better classroom techniques to give them all the help they need.
This is a Peace Corps buzz word. For me it means chatting with my neighbours, letting kids hang out in my house, and making friends with the women in the market. A few points of interest include:
- Books—Thanks to everyone who has donated books, I now have a small library of children’s/middle-grade literature in my living room. The local kids love to come over and see them. Most of them can’t read or can’t comprehend the English, but they’re fascinated by the books and I’m hoping to start a regular story time with them, working on basic comprehension of the simplest books.
- English club—My school already had an English/debate club when I came, but it’s recovering from a year or two of apathetic student leadership. The kids are really motivated and excited, and I’m enjoying being a resource and support for them.
- Secondary project planning—I have several ideas for secondary projects based around requests I’ve gotten from my neighbours and coworkers and hope to start adult English classes for villagers who never had a chance to learn the language and for teachers—especially primary school teachers—who have varying levels of English and really want more in order to comply with the Rwandan Education Board’s requirement that English be the medium of communication and to effectively teach the kids using the new curriculum.
How can you pray for me?
My village and school have an overwhelming number of different needs. It’s impossible for me to address all of them, but I want to be as effective as possible while I’m here. Pray for good communication to understand what my communities need and how they want those needs addressed, and for the wisdom to prioritise which of the potential projects are most important and the most feasible.
It’s extremely easy to throw myself too wholly into the work here and neglect to take care of myself and then to overcorrect and be totally unproductive for days or weeks at a time. Pray for the awareness to recognise when I’m overdoing it and the courage to step up and step down when necessary.
Living in Rwanda has been more anxiety-inducing than I ever expected. Some days are good and some days are bad, but on the bad days it’s a monumental challenge just to function enough to teach classes, cook a meal, or answer the door. Pray for emotional strength to do my job well and wisdom to engage in good self-care when things get rough.
I’m grateful for all the encouragement and support I’ve received so far. Thank you for coming along on this adventure!