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?

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