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%….

Need A New MAP

So, apparently a new cochlear implant center opened up in Nairobi not too long ago.  This means that I can actually get my CIs MAPped!  Up until a few months ago the nearest CI centers were in Greece and South Africa.

It is normal for a person to get a new MAP at least once a year and that has been the case with my older CI after the first year and I can’t even remember the last time I had a new MAP for that CI although it might actually have been when I got my new CI.  However, when a person first gets a CI, there are at least 6 or 7 MAPping appointments in that first year.

Of course I left for Kenya a few months after I got my second CI.  I thought  (even though the thought made me nervous) I would be able to squeak by two years without a new MAP especially because I don’t depend on it for speech recognition like some people do so I’m not aware of some of the little differences/tweaks that can be made simply because my brain does not recognize them.

Thankfully I have not had the same problem with this new CI as I had with my older CI.  Basically, sometimes when I get a new MAP with the older CI, when I first put it on the mornings (we finally got it to the point where this no longer happens in the mornings), or with certain sounds I get this painful sensation that last a second along the side of my neck.  Something to do with the nerves I guess.  I have not had any issues with facial twitching and this pain lasts less than a second but it’s one of the worst feelings ever mostly because it catches me off guard.  It got to the point when I was kind of throwing my MAPping sessions off a bit because even if my CI processor is at a comfortable loud level sometimes it causes this so I try to kind of take my MAP down just a notch volume-wise to avoid this.

I hate getting that CI MAPped for that very reason because sometimes it’ll happen during the process or after I leave the appointment and then I have to get reMAPped until we get the CI to be at the right levels without being too quiet.  Thankfully I have not had any issues with that for a while and I’m satisfied with this current MAP for that CI processor.

My newer CI definitely needs a new MAP, I don’t know how many times I’ve thought that CI was off because things sound so quiet on that side.  Sometimes when I wear just that CI, I’m not even sure if it’s on.

I was a bit apprehensive about maybe getting a new MAP at a brand new CI center that would require 2 days of travel to get there, a few hours there, and two days of travel back and not knowing how experienced the audiologists would be with programming CIs.  It’s hard to know if a MAP is right for you until you have had a day or two to get used to it and listen to all of the typical sounds you’re used to hearing outside of the CI center.

I couldn’t find any information about this CI center online.

I spoke with my audiologist in the States and asked for her opinion.  She, too, was a bit cautious about considering it.  We both agreed that we were on the same page that if they used the same software as she did for MAPping and if we could leave my current programs on the CI processors just in case then I would give it a try.  If not, then the potential cons wouldn’t be worth the pros and I would just stretch it out until December 2013!

Sure enough, it sounds like this center uses the same software and I should be able to leave my current programs on the processors as backups.

I spoke with Peace Corps about how to get an appointment there and since they haven’t worked with these people…it may take a some time to get the ball moving.  Which is fine because I prefer to have an appointment when school is out of session anyways.

Am hoping I can get an appointment by the end of the summer!

Working Out in Kenya

Working out in Kenya is a challenge in terms of trying to gain muscles!

During Pre-Service Training we were told that women typically gain weight and men typically lose weight (they lose muscles) because of all the carbohydrates in the diet.  I’m pretty sure I put on a few pounds during PST because I wasn’t exercising and I wasn’t eating as healthy as I should have been.

Lucky the water weights I ordered were shipped to Nairobi right before I headed to my site, I love them! Everyone who comes into my room just HAS to try them out for some reason, lol. Once I got to my site I eventually got around to working out every once in a while.  It was a challenge first term because the girls kept trying to get my attention in the evenings while I was trying to exercise.

I haven’t gotten around to getting couches for my sitting room because 1) I’m lazy when it comes to stuff like that 2) I always just sit at my desk or on my bed anyways–I’ve never been a fan of sitting on couches for some reason (eh, one of my many quirks I suppose) 3) I like having the space to workout.

I’m not an exercise fanatic.  I don’t LOVE working out, in fact I wake up some morning thinking about how much I don’t want to workout and then I spend all day dreading it.  I whine and complain.  I just workout because I can tell a difference in how I feel both physically and mentally.

My goal is to not necessary lose weight or anything like that.  I just want to end my service being able to fit in the jeans that I bought here with me at the beginning of my service.  😉  In other words I just want to maintain my weight, gain some muscles, and be healthy.

Carbohydrates.  The Kenya diet is nothing but carbohydrates and that has been a challenge.  I’m not putting on as much muscle I typically would put on back in the States with the same workout sessions.  It’s a bit frustrating to not get the expected muscles after ending my workout sessions drenched in sweat.   I have actually found out that when workouts should be getting easier, they aren’t because I’m not gaining the necessary muscles for that to happen.

I had a conversation about that with another female PCV recently and it turns out that she is having a similar problem as well.

I’ve never been one to pay attention to what I eat when I workout (I do workouts but I don’t do diets–I like my food too much to diet) but this is definitely giving me an appreciation for the difference that protein makes in one’s diet.  I naturally eat a lot of proteins back in the States without thinking about it but here it’s a challenge to get enough proteins.

It’s just frustrating to work out for months and to continue to find workouts that were easy back in the States are still challenging because you simply aren’t creating the muscles needed!

Bottom line is that working out, as much as I dread it, does make me feel better.  I’m not as restless, I have more energy, I feel productive, and I just feel better when I give myself the opportunity to move around instead of just sitting around.