Saturday, June 18, 2011

IMPORTANT: New Phone Number!

In a long, not-necessary-to-tell story, I lost my old phone number.  It's irretrievable.  Is that a word? 

The new one:

(229) 96-37-59-49

Skype me!

Weekly Update: 6.17.11

  •  Mama Models Trip = Awesome!  Our trip to Cotonou with Lea and Brigitte, two 4eme girls in my CEG that won a what-do-you-want-to-be essay contest, went well!  They stayed with two very successful professional women, who gave them advice and fun presents.  Plenty of questions and a day at work later, they came to fancy schmancy fundraising dinner at the American Ambassador's house and helped us raise money for gender and development projects.  We made bank, the girls LOVED the outing, and I loved seeing them all proud of what they'd learned!
  • Lea, Me in full Africa gear, and Brigitte.  I swear I told them to smile...
    The dinner, full of rich ex-pats and delicious food.  Good night!
    Popsicle Got Caught In A Trap.  Popsicle, my cat, went out exploring, as he is wont to do.  This time, though, it was at night, and he got caught in a trap: the snappy jaws kind, like in the Fox and the Hound (I think).  He uprooted the trap, still attached, and ran all the way home, dragging it behind him.  L I was in Cotonou, but luckily my neighbor found him and got two men to pry away the jaws, leaving my cat’s foot mangled, bloody and swollen.  I got home and thought a) it was broken, and b) he was going to die of infection, but after a teary call to the vet, he’s doing fine.  Still a little hobbly, but whining for fish, which is probably a good sign.

Poor kitten (see front left paw and his generally miserable expression).

  • End of the Year Meeting.  I'm a  normal, not-excellent-but-not-bad teacher.  A terrifying number of kids didn't pass the whole year (in one 3eme class, only 4 out of 39 kids will move on)... Normal for Benin, but sad.  In positives, two of my classes' top grades were by girls, and in one of those classes the top score was a close call between two girls I'm taking to Camp GLOW in 2 weeks.  Yay!  The meeting itself took 5 hours, and we discussed the proper test-taking format (studiously written by each teacher in a notebook), and sexual harrassment (with the exception of a few of my favorite teachers, the professors took the talk as a giant, hilarious joke.  Angering).  We survived the meeting, got out of the room, and are now free for 3 months!
  • I Got A Cement Wall!  For my world map project -- I've been bugging the director since February.  Will hopefully get it painted in August, as soon as I have the time and the grant comes through.  Stay tuned!
  • My hard-won cement wall.  I'll keep you updated!
  • Other Events: Visited orphans (favorite word in French, by the way: “orphelins”), who were really cute, and gave a test-taking strategies talk to 3eme students about to take the national exams.

  • Got a New Neighbor… He’s about 55, I think, and a traveling eye doctor. He’ll be living next door for two months, and after introducing himself, he asked about my husband. I told him what I always say, and he responded by pausing, staring at me, stepping a little closer, and saying, “I will become your husband.” At which point I left… reserve final judgment, but I’m not optimistic about this one.
  • Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay furniture for a great price!
    Got a Couch!
  • Gearing Up for a really crazy next couple of weeks -- excited!  This Friday I leave for Natitingou for the National Spelling Bee with Estelle and Soulemane.  Come back Sunday and go directly to Camp GLOW with Estelle (same one, she's awesome), Elizabeth, Odette, Flora, Pauline, and Bernadette.  A week later I take them back, go to Cotonou to welcome the new stage (yaaaay new volunteers!), then spend a week in village.  Mom and Auntie B come for a week!  France for a week!  New volunteers might visit my house, then taco night in the Mono Couffo region.  Then, finally, a break in August... during which I'll paint my world map.  Yay stuff to do!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weekly Update: 6.4.11

Not a whole lot happened this week (I was in village for a total of 4.5 days), but here are the highlights:
  • Got really nasty bug bites on my foot, which then swelled like a watermelon and itched like something really really itchy.  Turns out they're infected, so I'm on 8 days of intense antibiotics... to go with my already daily routine of anti-malarial antibiotics.  Cool.
  • Almost burned my house down.  Decided to make hardboiled eggs on Thursday morning: I had an hour before the girls showed up to go to Mama Models (oh, wait, let me explain that first:)
INTERJECTION:  So this weekend I'm at a project in Cotonou.  A bunch of the southern volunteers held essay contests with our 4eme girls (13-15 years old, in theory) on the topic, "What are your aspirations in terms of career?"  The essays were in French, and one or two winners from each school were chosen by a PC panel.  We brought all of the girls with us to Cotonou this weekend, and they're each staying with a very successful Beninese woman ("Mama Models") -- doctors, nurses, businesswomen, agricultural consultants, etc.  They shadow them for a day, then we do a goals-planning workshop with them (I get to help!), and then tomorrow night we're going to a really fancy ex-pat-inclusive charity dinner at the Ambassador's house, where the girls will make a presentation about what they learned.  Back to our regularly scheduled program.
  • K, so I was making hardboiled eggs at 9:30 and waiting for the girls to show up at 10:30. Stove was on, I was curled up with a book, and then at 9:50 on the dot, I heard knocking.  BENINESE PEOPLE SHOWED UP EARLY.  I was so shocked that I just picked up and left, forgetting completely about my second breakfast.  I realized that night (when I was already in Cotonou) what I'd done, and called my closemates frantically to see if they could go to my house.  Thank God for Lou -- I'm out two eggs and a little pot, but my house and furniture all still exist.  Hallelujah.
  • I think that's pretty much all.
  • Oh!  I finished my 50th book!  Grapes of Wrath -- so good.  Go read it.  But be prepared to crave bacon and biscuits the entire time.
  • The End.