100 Days of Aural Rehab-Week #8

Yet another week has gone by!  I was able to take the tests in a quiet setting this week.  I may try to take it in a noisy setting next week just to challenge myself to work harder in a more realistic environment even if it’ll mean that my scores will drop dramatically.

Beginner Closed-Set Test Results

Pre-Test:  60%

Week #8 Test:  73%

I got a 74% on last week’s test and have been consistently in the 70% range for the past few weeks.  Time to push that range up to the 80% range when I’m doing this in a quiet setting.

Intermediate Closed-Set Test Results

Last week I took the intermediate test just for fun and got a 60%.  I was bored this week so I decided to take it again, I got a 75% (how did I manage to do better on this than on the beginner test??).

Advanced Closed-Set Test Results

What can I say?  I was bored and had some free time on my hands….might as well as be somewhat productive.  Last week I got a 51% and this week I got a 56%.

I never did get around to finding out what the spoken sentences are on the intermediate and advanced tests.  Basically, I have no clue what the sentences are or where/when I should start listening for a different word other than the fact that I know it’s the last word in the intermediate level and somewhere in the middle in the advanced level which means I can’t really follow along.  It’s good practice though.  There have been a few times when I actually somehow know the word being said without even looking at the list of 4 possible choices or having to think about it….of course….this only happens about once every 15 words but it’s fun when it happens.

Mary’s Visit

I was asked by a 2nd year PCV if I would host a friend (Mary) of his for a night or two. Mary is actually an ASL interpreter back in the States and is touring Kenya and Tanzania for a month or so.

I went to my market town to pick her up. She didn’t have a phone, we had never met each other, and weren’t 100% sure when she would arrive. It was basically one of those “let’s just look for the other mzungu female” moments.  We found each other without any problems.

I did bump into two other tourists (which never happens), they were a couple.  The man looked way excited to see me because he wanted to ask where a hotel was.  You should have seen the look on his face when I told him I was deaf and didn’t understand what he was asking.  It was like he was thinking “I finally see a mzungu here and of course she has to be deaf.”  It was kind of funny though.  I did quickly ask them to write down what they were saying (they might have been Europeans) so we were able to communicate through written words.  I wasn’t able to help them out because I hadn’t heard of that hotel.  I felt bad, they were friendly just a bit stressed out about being lost in a strange country.

We headed to my village where all of my kids attacked Mary and asked her the same questions about America that they always ask me.  I guess they either don’t like my answers or don’t believe me but they got the same answers from Mary.  Mary and I were able to teach some of the girls how to play Uno which was pretty fun.

We also decided to try and walk to Lake Victoria because it looks pretty close to my school (looks are deceiving) and I had been told that it was only a few miles away.  Well, we didn’t have a map with us and we kept losing it from sight.  Don’t ask how we can lose one of the world’s largest lakes but we did.  We kept asking locals for help to get there and a couple of them tried to ask for money or items from us in exchange for information.

We then found ourselves pretty lost but thought we could find our way back.  We came upon a car full of people who were willing to give us a ride.  One of the passengers was actually the aunt of one of the teachers I work with.  They thought we were making it up when we told them we had walked all the way from my village by foot!  They couldn’t believe we had done all that walking.  We had walked for about four hours.

We got dropped off at a different village after the car lost one of its parts from a bump (or ditch…can’t remember which) on the dirt road.  We paid them and thanked them.  We then got a soda and was able to catch a bus back to my village where we got a second cold soda!!

It was fun to see more of the area and to meet some of the locals who really live in remote Kenya.  Some of them didn’t even know any English.  I think I might have found an older deaf boy.  He was gesturing to other boys and gesturing to us (trying to get us to buy maize).  It was done in a way that it didn’t seem “hearing” if that makes any sense.  He didn’t understand any sign language though.  I’ll have to ask my headmaster about him.  I have heard that there are many deaf kids “hidden” in our area.

After teaching classes yesterday, I went to drop Mary off in my marketing town where she caught another bus to continue her tour of Kenya.  I also picked up a package which had stickers and books (for my kids–so FUN) from my parents!!  🙂

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What have I been up to for the past month? Facebook Status Updates

I have found flip-flops, sticks, rocks, paper, and lids on the floor of my room. I have also been almost hit in the face with flying flip-flops and flying empty milk cartons. That’s how people get a deaf person’s attention when there’s no ceiling. Although, I have to say that today’s flying toothbrush was a new one……..

I woke up at 4 am for the fourth morning in a row (gah!), discovered a million bites on my legs (From what? I have no idea and more keeps appearing), didn’t have electricity today (netbook and phone died), was given a last minute notice to teach two additional classes today, and I had three 5- year-old girls try to hold onto my shirt and tell me stories while I was trying to not trip over them while running and trying not to have an asthma attack. I ended my afternoon racing with a bunch of Classes 0-4 girls (I came in second to a 8 year old girl), did cartwheels with a bunch of 4-7 year old girls, and tried to teach a Class 8 boy how to do a back bend….all under a double rainbow

You know how sometimes you just know something is bad before knowing what exactly happened? That’s what happened on this day last year. I don’t think I’ve ever been so glued to Facebook, news websites, or TV news (hoping I would see people I was trying to find out if they were okay in the background or something) hoping that all relatives of mine (who frequently went to Joplin on the weekends), former classmates, and friends were okay…such a helpless feeling. As a Midwestern girl, I have seen the damage that tornadoes can do to a town but I have never ever seen anything like what it did to Joplin…every time I went there, it broke my heart to even start thinking about what everyone went through and I can’t even start to imagine what all the people of Joplin have gone through. Joplin, you have shown a whole nation what it means to be a community, determined, strong, and not to take time with people you care about for granted. You have also shown us that when there is a will, there is a way regardless of how huge the obstacles are and how to make the impossible become reality. Joplin, you can be sure you’re one of the first places I will be visiting when I return to the States next year in December. Joplin, you are amazing and don’t ever forget that.

Yesterday, I was complaining about the fact that I kept waking up at 4am for no apparent reason. This morning I woke up at midnight after going to bed at 11pm and now I’m hoping that I sleep in until at least 4am tomorrow morning…….how did I ever willingly do all those all-nighters in college?!

You know you teach Class 4 when a boy sees a beetle on the floor and decides to put it on your desk while you’re checking homework and providing one-on-one feedback. Then a group of boys gather around your desk and decide to distract you by having a conversation about the beetle, how it moves, how it hides, why it’s scared, its “horn,” watching the poor thing crawl off the desk, telling a student he shouldn’t keep the beetle as a pet in his desk drawer, etc.

It’s time to work on my shopping list again because I’m short on food and my tummy is a bottomless pit today. I’ve been eating bread slices one after the other as snacks/dessert (*note: Kenyans see bread as a treat, especially with soda). I then ran out of jam and ran out of butter….which leaves honey. So I’m eating honey on slices of wheat breads pretending they’re pizza slices from The Wheel Pizza in Lawrence…well…without the pepperoni, sauce, and cheese…

Critters currently in my house: 2 geckos, 3 bats, roaches, mosquitoes that have a knack for finding their way inside my mosquito net, and who knows how many spiders. Kids found a snake in one of the classrooms the other day as well. I would much rather have cute, cuddly, furry critters…like say….puppies…although the geckos have been entertaining me for the past two nights with their love story.

Missing starting Memorial Day weekend off with an afternoon at the pool with friends….everyone have a wonderful weekend and please be SAFE!

Attempt #2 to go to town: Fail. At least this time I only had to wait 5 minutes before finding out that I am indeedy stuck in my village until at least Monday. Today’s agenda: Go to one of my favorite mamas’ vendor in village and get my Kenya comfort food which is chapati and a cold bottle of Fanta.

I LOVE when my kids stop by my place to ask if they can borrow my books/magazines to read and look at……..

Class 8 LOVED watching the KSL video they made, they had the biggest smiles on their faces. Now they want to know religious songs and other common phrases in ASL and how they’re different from KSL (and if songs are different in America). I told them I would try to get an ASL video directly from deaf children/teenagers (ages 10-18) in America in addition to finding some online. Anyone interested in doing a fun summer project with deaf children/teenagers and putting together a video? Class 8 is going to make a second video and we could share videos—gotta love culture exchange! 😀

It’s funny how 15 minutes feels like an hour when one does not have power and then the second that power comes back on, time just flies by….apparently not having electricity slows time down….

Corporal punishment is not something I agree with at all but I do think there needs to be as much focus on preventing verbal abuse as there is on preventing corporal punishment. It breaks my heart whenever I see teachers telling children that they’re “stupid, very stupid….”

I have had small children poke my toes, pet my head/hair, pull at the hair on my arms, bring my hands up to their eyes for a closer inspection, point out every single freckle on my arm, sniff my arms/hands, but what always catches me by surprise is the random child every once in a while who licks my skin…..because….apparently………mzungus taste different?

So, today is a Kenya holiday and I have no idea if we have school today or not…….guess I’ll find out in a couple of hours……

Never thought I would be happy to sit on a tiny scrap of wood in a 16 seat matatu with 22 other people but I’m no longer trapped in my village! Woot!

8 months in Kenya, 1/4 done with my service….already?!….crazy….

A fun weekend with faboo peeps + 7 buttermilk pancakes for dinner = A happy Kelly…..

Apparently going to a nearby town for the weekend has lead my students to think I went to America for a short visit. They also think I took an airplane to travel 80 miles. Oh, only if America was that close and only if I owned a private airplane in Kenya….. 🙂

On one hand, today has been one of those days where I feel isolated, bored, restless, and antsy which is to be expected with a village life. On the other hand, it was nice getting free tomatoes and mangoes from two mamas at the market and saying hi to my chapati + soda market mama. I’m actually looking forward to teaching Class 4 Math tomorrow morning. The light bulb is slowly (but surely) coming on with long division, subtraction, multiplication, and addition after 6 long months of me being frustrated with myself. I felt like I was failing my kiddios because I’m not 100% fluent in KSL and I have no clue what I’m doing most of the time when I attempt to teach. My kiddios have been amazing these past two weeks, only if I had half of their patience and drive when it comes to learning new things….seriously….these kids will work on one long division problem for a good 20 minutes without throwing their book in frustration or something, it’s amazing to see.

Background information: Obama is a big deal here in Kenya. He’s on pencils, has streets named after him, and heck there’s even a gum brand called Obama.
Class 4 girl: “Look, do you know who that is on my pencil?”
Me: “Yes, that’s Obama.”
Class 4 girl: “I know! He lives in Kenya!!”
Me: “Actually, he’s the President of the United States but did you know that his dad lived near our village a long time ago?”
Class 4 girl: “Will Obama come back to Kenya when he’s done in America?”
Me: “Oh, I don’t know…..”
Class 4 girl: *Announces to Classes 4 and 5: “Kelly said that Obama is coming back to Kenya!!”

There was a bat on the floor 3 feet away from me and I spent 30 minutes trying to scare it off somehow because I don’t know how to kill a bat like a Kenyan can (it’s impressive, seriously….I want to learn how). Clapping, throwing stuff, yelling at it, tapping it with a broom handle…didn’t work. I started thinking maybe it was dead so I took my broom and proceeded to try to sweep it up. Said bat then started playing games with me, going back and forth between the gap in the wooden wall that divides my room sending me scurrying back and forth between two rooms armed with a broom. Finally it found a good hiding spot….I lost….*sighs* All of this with me wearing a headlamp and my pants rolled up like a complete dork……

So, my school library has not been available to the kids because no one wants to monitor and kids tend to tear apart the books. I got the okay to monitor our small library room and am now the “assistant librarian” (I didn’t even know we had a librarian) however I haven’t earned the “rights” of having one of the keys to the library so I have to grab whatever free time we have during the day when the library/office is open. Currently only 3 kids are allowed in at a time (deputy headmaster rule since his office is in the library room) and the kids were shocked that they could come in and read with me there. I kept having to reassure them that they wouldn’t get into trouble. It was priceless to see the smiles on their faces……

Heating rainwater using a kerosene stove, trying to add just the right amount of cold water to heated water so that your bath water won’t be too hot or cold, you bathe out of a tub (not a bathtub, just a…..small tub) by splashing water on yourself, and there’s no electricity so you do it all by candlelight…..yep, Peace Corps lifestyle…..

Young children are very good at ambushing. I seriously want to know how it is that I see only one child standing in the middle of the school grounds and I go over to say hi….then next thing I know….I’m being attacked by 30 children between the ages of 3 and 6. It’s like they have spies stationed throughout the school grounds and they communicate with each other telepathically or something.

Well it finally happened….the seat of a chair I sat on broke. Thankfully it happened in the staff room a few minutes before all the other teachers arrived and no one saw me falling through…..whew….

It’s only Wednesday?! Gahhh…..longest week ever…..

😀 Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!! 😀 Thank you Christopher and Tara for all the chocolate especially the 1 pound chocolate bar. My week just got much better!

One of the school’s zebus somehow ended up with one of the girl’s dress (it was hanging out to dry) on its horns. Of course it was the zebu that the herdsman calls “the crazy one.” It then came after me and about 15 other young girls while I was filling my water bucket because it wanted my water. Just picture 15 little girls and me running around trying to avoid a zebu with a dress on its horn because it was ready to butt one of us while the herdsman was trying to get it without getting butted…I came within inches of getting butted by one of its sharp horns and then almost got trapped between it and the corner of the dorms compound…..

Class 7 boy: “You’re from America right?”
Me: “Yep.”
Class 7 boy: “Which deaf school did you go to?”
Me: “Oh, I didn’t go to a deaf school…I went to a hearing school.”
Class 7 boy: *jaw drops* “What? Wow. Really? How? Did everyone sign?”
Me: “Not everyone signed but some of my friends did. I had an interpreter *attempted to explain the concept of interpreter*”
Class 7 boy: *confused about what an interpreter does*
Just wanted to take this moment to thank all of my wonderful interpreters over the years who put up with me, survived all the science classes I signed up for, made sure I had access to education, and tried to make me feel included by interpreting conversations among my classmates……

I learned something new about myself. I don’t scream when a mouse comes out of nowhere and leaps over my foot….I stutter…

Just got a WONDERFUL box of goodies from Alexandra!!!! I have the most generous friends, you all are amazing!!!

Only in Kenya do I get this excited when I find fruits! Made 4 trips to the village market this week without any luck but hit the jackpot in my marketing town. I will never ever take the produce aisle in grocery stores for granted ever again……

Happy Father’s Day Weekend to my dad who encouraged me to read, ask questions, and explore the world even if it meant digging for earthworms, catching frogs, climbing dirt hills, sitting in the garage watching lightning storms, and climbing trees. Also, thank you for all those times you held me upside, swinging me from side to side as I sang/signed “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” as a little kid…..

Best thing about being bilateral: Stereo, directional, and better sound quality…
Worst thing about being bilateral: Heartbeat stopping moments a few times a week when you think your implants are no longer working before you realize the processors are on the wrong sides…..

I am going to miss watching this summer’s Olympics especially gymnastics. There’s something about watching gymnasts defy gravity that never ceases to amaze me……

Herdsman: “Go to the market and buy lots of bread. Then put lots of butter on them. You would look good fat.”
If you’re fat in Kenya, that means you have money and you’re healthy. Kenyans do NOT want to be thin.

As a PCV teacher in a different country sometimes I feel like I’m trying to swim up Niagara Falls……but……at the end of the day I want to say that I was motivated, did my best with the given factors, and think about how I can continue to improve and grow for tomorrow’s uphill battle.

It’s almost the first day of “winter” (although technically Kenya doesn’t have 4 seasons) here! Erhm….that is if you want to call 75-80 degrees F “winter”….then again my fellow teachers have been wearing winter coats and think I’m insane for wearing short-sleeved shirts. It’s also the shortest day of the year by a grand total of 30 minutes compared to the longest day of the year. Ah, the wonders of science! My Midwestern buddies, enjoy your first official day of the summer and longest day of the year by swimming and drinking a frozen ‘rita by the poolside!

So….I found out yesterday that at least 20% of our kids have been confirmed to have HIV. The number is likely to be higher because many parents have not had their kids tested (huge stimga in our community). That is at least 1 out of every 5 kids whom I love and care about very much. I do not want to know who and I do not plan on finding out who unless of course they want to tell me and talk about it. Sad thing is that the majority of our students still do not know how to protect themselves against getting AIDS even though lessons are incorporated for every Class in every subject. There has got to be a way to make it click without requiring reading comprehension or critical thinking……does anyone have ideas for hands-on/interactive activities that may help make it click?

Two hours of library time a day means that for two hours straight all I hear nonstop is “Come here, what is this? What is that? What is this? Oh, I know what this is. How do you sign this word?” I love these kids….just wish I had the ability to answer a billion questions at the same time….

A few weeks ago we got a new student, a Class 7 girl who transferred from another local school for the deaf. The other day,she got into trouble because she changed her sign name and teachers were trying to tell her that she had to use her old sign name from her old school. Thoughts on this? Should deaf people “be able to” change their name sign when moving to a new school/town/country/etc?

100 Days of Aural Rehab-Week #7

Sure my scores have ranged from a low 48% to a high 84% but for the most part I was constantly in the 60% range for the first 4 weeks and have been in the 70% range for the last 3 weeks.

Week #7 test results: 74%

It was pretty quiet. All the girls are sound asleep and no one is crying/screaming/whining. Since it was quiet and I’m getting bored with the beginner level I decided to give the intermediate and advanced levels a try!

Mind you, I don’t think I would be able to do the intermediate and advanced levels with background noises. Of course one never knows until he/she tries and I will give it a shot at some point.

I struggle so much with background noises. It’s funny, it never bothered me much with hearing aids simply because I wasn’t picking up most of the noises.


The intermediate level gives you a set of 4 word each time at the end of a sentence. It’s the same sentence but I have no idea what the sentence is (the Internet isn’t cooperating long enough at a time for me to find out) so basically it goes something like this…


Words you’re given to pick from: Bony, Pony, Bill, Pill


Words you’re given to pick from: Sip, Sick, Soak, Soap


The advanced level is similar to the intermediate level except the word is in the middle of the sentence so it goes something like this…


Words you’re given to pick from: hoop, hoof, leap, leaf


Words you’re given to pick from: keen, teen, tick, kick


The sentences are the same, I just don’t know what it is! Hopefully the Internet will cooperate a bit better this weekend (it took me forever to just get WordPress open) and I will find out!

My results:
Intermediate: 60%
Advanced: 51%


We were supposed to have midterms last term but only Classes 7 and 8 (maybe 6 as well) had them.  This term our midterms were supposed to be last week but looks like they’ll be tomorrow (Tuesday), Wednesday, and Thursday.

No, they do not get official grades even though the midterms are “graded.”

Our secretary was out for a while for health reasons and I was asked to help type a bunch of midterms.  I’m glad I’m done with typing those!

Some of our kiddos are confused because to them an exam means they get to go home afterwards.  Many of them have not had midterms before so I found myself trying to explain that midterms were different from finals and that they wouldn’t be going home until August.

I’ll be glad when midterms are over with because not knowing when midterms were going to be made it tricky to know when to review and when to start teaching new materials!

I do not miss taking midterm and final exams!!!  🙂

100 Days of Aural Rehab: Week #6

Once again it’s Thursday which means time for my weekly aural rehab test!

I’ve actually been slacking off on aural rehab for the last two weeks and ironically I’m doing better on these tests even though I haven’t even been practicing much with ClixBeginner.  Maybe there is such a thing as trying too hard and over analyzing what I’m hearing!  😉

I need to get back to listening to audio books though because that seems to really help.  It’s nice because I can read as I listen.  It’s also an enjoyable and relaxing way to do aural rehab.  If I lose my place, I just wait until the Kindle automatically turns the page and start over on the next page.

It’s the only form of aural rehab I have ever enjoyed in my whole life….I actually *gasp* look forward to it…and that’s a first for me!

Anyways….the first half of today’s aural rehab test was done in a somewhat quiet setting and the second half there were a couple of girls either crying or whining in the dorms.

Pre-test:  60%

Week #6:  79%

Yay!  😀

Reading Club

It took me a while to discover our school library.  We have a couple of shelves filled with books (most of which have been donated from America).

I wanted to start a reading program last term but had no idea how to go about it.  My students love to read but cannot read.  How do I develop a reading program that students between the ages of 3 and 20 would enjoy?

Do I use a reward system?

Do I encourage them to write a book report (with guided templates)?

Do I read a book to them?

Do I encourage them to convey ideas of stories they have read through drawing and drama?

Do I target the whole school of 90 kids or just one class?

I discussed my ideas with a fellow teacher first term and he bought up a very good point.  Many of the books that our school has are from America which means there’s some cultural confusion.  Books in America are written very differently than books here in Kenya.  I’m generalizing here but stories in America tend to be more abstract and unrealistic whereas stories in Kenya tend to be more realistic and has to do with daily life/struggles/joys.

I tried to find books in Kenya that my students would enjoy.  I struggled with finding books that were written at the appropriate reading level that had a lot of illustrations.  There simply aren’t many books here in Kenya written by Kenyans for children (if there are, I haven’t seen them).

Second term then rolled around and I decided to try to set up the reading program.  Once again I found myself getting too wrapped up in the logistics of things and I was making things too structured.  Finally I decided to just jump in with both feet and let my students lead me.

I spoke with the deputy headmaster and was assigned the duty of being an “assistant librarian”….I didn’t even know we had a librarian.  Only three people at the school have keys to the room and I’m not one of those three.  However, yesterday I was finally shown where the spare key is kept…yay!!  Baby steps….now I don’t have to hunt down people to get the library unlocked and it doesn’t stay locked when I can’t find people.

The deputy headmaster did ask that I keep the number of kids to only 3 since we have 3 chairs and his office is in the same room.  3 kids out of 90…ehmm yeah I decided to bend the rules a bit and limit it to 5 kids at a time.

Books are not to leave the library, I understand the reasoning behind that. There have been a lot of problems with kids losing books and tearing books.

The library has been off-limits to the kids for so long that they’re scared they’re going to get into trouble for being in there….one girl even tried to close the library door yesterday so she “wouldn’t get caught.”  I kept telling them that I had permission to be in the room and if I was there then they could be in there and they wouldn’t get into trouble.

I have been kind of keeping this on the lowdown because I don’t know how I’m going to say no whenever we have more than 5 kids who come to the library.  I have such a hard time refusing kids books…….

I have set it up to where I will be in the library for at least two hours a day during the week (lunch and after school) that way it doesn’t interfere with other classes during the day.  I’m working on seeing how well I can access the library on the weekends.

Once the excitement wears off then I may start something a bit more structured with some fun activities.

In the meantime I’m loving seeing the joy on my students’ faces when they open up a book.

Yes, they have very limited reading abilities.  Yes, they struggle to understand what they’re reading.  Yes, there are cultural confusion with some of the American books.


They LOVE it.  They absolutely LOVE it.

They want to read so badly and they want to learn about the world so badly.    Generally, they will look at pictures in the book and will ask questions.  I will then answer the questions and point out a key common word that helped me answer that question.  Or I will ask them questions about what they think is happening in the pictures and will try to guide the discussions so that I can point out some recurring key words throughout the book.

For example, when looking at a book of snakes….if someone asks me if a certain snake is deadly….I will tell them yes that particular snake is deadly because of the word “venomous.”  I then find another snake that isn’t deadly and point out the word “nonvenomous” in the paragraph.  Whenever they ask if another snake is deadly, I then encourage them to look for either the word “venomous” or “nonvenomous” in the paragraphs.

Class 7 girls who are 16-18 year old cannot read the words “smoke” or “toe.”  They may be able to show you the sign or spell it out….but they do not know what it is.  Again, it’s amazing how much they want to learn.

I’m a bit nervous about today’s library hours because I explained it to Classes 4 and 5.  The last few days I’ve just been grabbing a few random kids as they pass by.  I’m just hoping that not all 14 kids from Classes 4 and 5 will come all at once.  How am I going to tell 9 kids that no, they can’t read books?  How am I going to keep them from fighting each other?

Hopefully the fact that it’s more of a come-and-go thing will make it easier….

I basically have no clue what I’m doing but my students are teaching me (more than I am teaching them)…….

If anyone has any ideas/resources….that would be faboo!

Education Day

Yesterday was Education Day for our county.  Basically “big people” from the Ministry of Education are at this event, there are a lot of speeches, some dancing/singing by local schoolchildren, and awards (e.g. school that had the best test scores in a subject in the area).

I guess with the awards, a trophy is given and then the school must return it at the end of the year to be given to whoever gets the #1 ranking in that subject the following year.

A group of students from my school were asked to give a poetry (singing/drama) at the event, they did great.  The teachers who coordinated it did a great job as well.

We rode on a school bus from the local secondary school and I got to see more of Kenya.  Beautiful!!  Lakes, hills, green!  Love it!  We were supposed to leave at 7 am but the bus didn’t show up until 10 am.  We arrived and stood around while the kids practiced their poetry.  We also watched some of the other schoolchildren’s performance.  A couple of police officers took an interest in our children and bought them mandazi.  They were having conversations with them and me by writing back and forth on our hands.

After our kids performed and after we ate lunch (we bought rice and were given free bread +soda), I had to sit with all the teachers who were there from our county for a couple of hours not having a clue what was being said as we “listened” to many different speeches.  One of the teachers (she teaches mostly Classes 4 and 5 as well) was kind enough to fill me in on a few things here and there.  Apparently they were talking about how we need to make sure girls get an education and that young teenagers are not being given to men as wives.  Teachers need to have better housing (teachers usually don’t live in the same village they teach in so they actually have two houses) available so they can teach.  We have a high rate of HIV/AIDS (statistics that were given was that 3 out of every 5 people have HIV/AIDS and we rank #1 in the country for HIV/AIDS…I want to double-check on the 3 out of 5 thing).

Then awards were given out.  Our school got an award for doing well on the KSL exam and our headmaster got an award for being the best KSL teacher in the area.  Of course my fellow teachers decided to send the mzungu up to accept these awards (twice).  The deaf mzungu who had no clue what the awards were for, when they were announcing things, or who she was accepting awards from.  Basically I would just sit there daydreaming until the teacher next to me would wildly slap me on the shoulder/back and say “go, go, go…go get the award!”

We were outside from 7am-6pm and for some reason I completely blanked on bringing sunscreen.  Not a good thing when you’re pale, have a family history of skin cancer, and can burn within 20 minutes at the equator.  I was  so mad at myself!!  I was trying to stand under trees and tents but apparently that doesn’t do much good.  *sighs* oh well, what is done is done I guess….blah…..just makes me nervous with the whole skin cancer thing.

To kill some time I occasionally asked the kids some questions and they would chuckle at the fact that I was trying to teach them outside of the classroom.  For example we got 16 sodas (13 kids, 3 teachers) and several kids kept trying to count them (slowly).  They kept losing count so finally I said “there are 4 sodas across, 1..2..3..4..and there are 4 sodas down, 1..2..3..4…what is 4 x 4?”  They got it right off the bat, would tell their friend that I was trying to teach Math, laugh, and then they would show their friend how.

On our way back to the school, one of my Class 4 girls sat next to me.  She’s one of the most curious child EVER.  She was asking why we were pulling into a gas station, why they were filling the bus up, what they were filling the bus up with, and why the employer gave the bus driver a receipt.  Keep in mind these kids’ families don’t really have vehicles (that’s village life for you) and they miss so much on overhearing things (I know from experience that it took me a while to fully understand certain things as a kid because of the little things you don’t overhear such as….what do you say when you want to return something back to a store?  Trust me, there is a certain way to say these things.  I know because I used to get odd looks/confusion until I finally started asking people what kind of phrases they used).  Another example is that I know the next time I go to Nairobi, I will likely be by myself and I will have no clue what to tell the matatu/bus drivers in terms of name of places as to where I want to go to because I don’t know what my fellow PCVs (who I have usually been with in the past) tell them.  It’s always the littlest things that people don’t think are big deal that actually turns out to be a big deal when one can’t hear.

We finally got back to the school.  I was hungry because two of us teachers didn’t get to eat lunch and only ate bread + soda.  I was all excited to make scrambled eggs with pancakes.  Let’s just say one should not multitask while cooking especially when refilling their stove with kerosene.  Both of the containers that I use for kerosene and cooking oil are both yellow.  Yeah, my eggs were cooked in kerosene which I didn’t realize until I took a huge bite and promptly spat it out…..oops.  At least the fruit salad and pancakes were delicious and filling!

Parents’ Day

Today was Parents’ Day at my school…..Kenya style.

Yesterday, some teachers were saying we weren’t going to have it and others said we were going to have it.  No one knew what was going on.  For a couple of weeks some of the kids had talked about hoping to get to see their parents…..

This morning, we basically tried to go about our day like usual but again none of us teachers knew what was going on.  We were told to meet at 11 during tea which we did and we ended up discussing Saturday’s (tomorrow) activity (more on that later).

At 8:55 am I was asked to type the Programme of Activities schedule for Parents’ Day because our secretary has been out for a couple of weeks (I may actually end up having to type all the midterms for the entire school…..ack….).  First thing on the schedule was that the parents would arrive at 9 am and the meeting would start at 10 am.  I knew that was unrealistic with Kenya culture.

I went back to class and continued to teach long division and then storied with the kids/teachers.  Around noon, I went back to my room to work on a few things and occasionally spied from my window.  I happened to look outside at the time that everyone was heading to the meeting at 1pm (mind you, it was supposed to start at 10 am).

What happened during the meeting?

  • Opening prayer
  • Welcoming remarks
  • Self Introduction
  • Departmental briefs (boarding, discipline,academic performance, benchmarks for performance)
  • Executive reports/speeches (Head teacher, Board of Government chairman, PTA chairman)
  • Plenary/open session
  • Adoptions & recommendations
  • Vote of Thanks
  • Closing Prayer
  • Lunch (more like dinner because it was around 5pm when we finished up)

Mzungu came up a few times during the session, it was mostly about what mzungus have done in the past (think walking dollar sign).

I did learn that our school was established in 1992 by a mzungu….interesting fact of the day.

Men sat on one side of the room and women sat on the other so that was interesting to see.

Us teachers sneaked out around 4pm when they started discussing PTA issues because it doesn’t apply to us teachers and some parents were wanting to talk to teachers about their child’s classroom performance.  The PTA is asking parents to help pay for either a new fence or a water tank.

Some kids were in tears that their parents didn’t show up and then they were being told to stop crying.  Other kids were crying because they thought they were going home with their parents and didn’t (communication barriers).  I think around 20-25 of our kids’ parents showed up (out of around 90-95 kids).  Keep in mind some of our kids are orphans and some of them live far away from the school.

I then hung out with the kiddios for a while afterwards to watch a group practice their poetry for tomorrow’s event.  I’m not entirely sure what tomorrow is but I’m tagging along.  I think it’s sort of like an Education Day for our region but am not 100% sure about that.  Kids from our school were asked to do poetry (that’s what it’s called) which is kind of like a very short drama + song combination.  I asked at least 3 teachers what time we were leaving tomorrow and the answer was always “in the morning” and I couldn’t get anything more specific than that until around dinner time.  We also almost had to cancel it because we couldn’t find a nearby school willing to let us borrow their bus to take our students with us.

Week #5 Test Results

I got a chance to test my listening ability with constant noises in the background.  Most of the time when I take my weekly test I do it in a quiet setting or when there’s only occasional noisy moments every once in a while (a random kid yelling every three minutes or something).  This time, it was CONSTANT noises from 40 girls in the dorms (I live in the same compound) and a metal roof without a ceiling.  At one point I think one girl was crying and at another point one girl was getting yelled at (I think).

Of course, anyone’s (regardless of if they’re deaf or hearing) ability to hear becomes worse with background noises.  So of course my weekly test score dropped a bit but I’m pretty satisfied with how well I did with the constant background noise since that is something I always struggle with greatly.

I got 70%….

The last time I did a test with constant background noise I got a 48%…..

Yeah, I’ll take that 70%….