Blog Archive

Friday, March 5, 2010

My parents' visit, my 2nd term of school, and more garden photos

My mother, father, and brother visited from Dec. 28th to Jan. 10th and they had a wonderful time. Being the hardened travelers thatthey are, none of them got sick. We traveled up country by boat andsaw dolphins, hippos, chimps, baboons, and many amazing birds. Theywere able to catch a car over the dusty, bumpy road that leads to mysite and visit my village. My host family was very excited and lots ofpeople came over to greet them. We rode a van back down country toKombo and only experienced one tire blow-out. There was someexcitement at Janjanbury Island. To reach the island you boarda ferry that is attached to a metal cable that spans the river. Youpull on the cable to bring the ferry across. While we were on theferry, pulling it along, a small group of people in a motor boatdecided to cut in front of the ferry, not realizing that the cable wassteadily rising up out of the water as we pulled the ferry along. Sureenough, the boat's motor caught on the cable and pulled it to oneside. Eventually the motor was pulled up and the cable releaseditself. Everyone was fine. After my parents left I returned to site tobegin my 2nd term of teaching this year. I continue to teach science togrades 8 and 9 and run my library club. This term I started a scienceclub, where we have made rockets using vinegar and baking soda, aswell as cut out paper skeletons. I have also started a library club atthe Sarre Alfa school; another school, with a library, close bythe one I teach at. I continue to relax by reading, playing guitar,and going on long distance runs. I think I cover about 12 km now (Irun 30 min out and 30 min back). These runs take me deep into the bushsurrounding my village and it is very beautiful and secluded. I haveseen some beautiful birds and even two warthogs while running. A new volunteer has been placed in Fatoto, a village about 15km from my own. She's working as an agriculture volunteer and seems to be settling in well. The big news is that I recently traveled to Kombo to write an extension application. After much deliberation, Ihave decided that I would like to stay in The Gambia for another yearand work as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader (PCVL). This means that Iwill get to extensively help with trainings and site development forEducation volunteers, as well as serve as a source of support for newvolunteers. I turned in my application and two weeks later I found out that I got the job. I’m very excited and I now have a lot to consider. I willprobably leave my old site and move to a new site closer to thecapital so I don't have to do too much traveling in order to helpwith trainings. Unfortunately, I became rather sick the last time I was in Kombo (bad case of food poisoning), but I’m much better now!

I am now down in Kombo for an optional Education Sector reconnect, where Education volunteers come together to discuss their projects and share ideas. We’ve also been working on writing report forms and editing manuals. I’ve been getting a lot done. I even managed to visit a cell phone company to purchase a 3G wireless USB that will give me internet access on my computer while I’m up country. It’s very slow, but you may be receiving a lot more emails from me from now on. I had a good two weeks back at site. I taught my usual lessons, ran my clubs, and gave another round of tests. We mixed a lot of sugar and water together to observe solubility in Grade 8 (it was pretty sweet! Oho!). I brought my back packing guitar to school to help teach Grade 9 about sound energy and we used old cans and wire to make string phones. The day before the lesson I walked around the school grounds banging a metal pot with a crow bar and listening to see if I could find an echo (to show my grade 9 students). My principle came out of his office and looked at me as if to say “have you lost your mind?” I continue to observe my fellow teachers and check up on their lesson plans, which is going well. I was invited to present on Alternative Discipline at a teachers workshop at a nearby school. There were lots of teachers their and my presentation was well received. I’ve learned to accept that corporal punishment is used here and the best way to address it is to suggest alternative forms of punishment and have the teachers slowly try them out. I had to face a teacher I had worked with last year who was very heavy handed with his first graders, but he seemed much more open minded this time around. At home I have been harvesting a lot of carrots from my garden. Hot season has begun (it was 110 F in the afternoon when I left site). I’ve already begun carrying my bed and mosquito net outside because it is too hot to sleep inside. There’s something very pleasant about going to sleep under the stars. I plan to return to site after this weekend and I’ll hopefully stay at site and teach through most of March. I’ll then come back down to help with the site development trek (going out to see new potential sites for new volunteers) in April. So till then, I hope you are all well!


  1. ousman (ian)
    salaam melekum, I just happen to come across your blog, I am very much enjoying it! I was in gambia (serrekunda) for just a month last year to visit my boyfriends family for the first time and loved it! his grandfather lives in URD, I did not have the chance to visit there on that trip but look forward to it in the future. inshallah.
    -ashley (gundu jabbi)

  2. Hello! I recently heard from Ashley as well--what a joy to have someone pick up on my blog. Congratulations on a great blog with terrific pictures. My husband Bruce and I served in The Gambia 1979 - 1981. Bruce worked for the UN well digging project in Mansajung and I worked at the hospital in Basse. I've written a few things about my experiences in my blog: