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Saturday, January 1, 2011

December 2010: In-service training and more treks

PICTURE (top to bottom)
1. to 3. The last few phase 2 treks.
4. to 8. In-service training "bug" making activity.
This December brought to a good and busy end a good and busy year. Unfortunately my camera has not been working well lately; I think it has gone through one too many bumpy, sandy back-pack rides around The Gambia! I therefore apologize for the lack of pictures above. I spent the first part of December working hard on the library at Tanji Lower Basic School. I emptied out a second store of books, which nearly doubled the size of the library. I had to raid a storage room full of broken desks to get wooden planks. Armed with a hammer, swiss-army knife saw, and nails, I fixed up several shelves and managed to fit all the books into them. We also finished up out last few Phase 2 treks. In mid-December the in-service training of the education group who I helped train over the summer began. It was really good to see all of them again after three months. We conducted a lot of technical sessions, as well as some fun ones; we had them build clay insects to display an interesting science and English activity. We also spent a day on the beach where I managed to get a sun burn … in December. Unfortunately the education program manager caught a flu about half way through the training, which gave me a little more work to do. The last few days of the week long training went well though, and it concluded the third and final phase of training for this education group. I stayed down in the Kombo area for Christmas, where I helped cook about 50 pancakes for a large Christmas brunch. I spent new years on the beach with a number of volunteers, where we sat and watched the fireworks being launched from the hotels across the bay.

This last year, 2010, was the second full year that I have spent in The Gambia. Needless to say, it was an exciting year. My parents visited, though they were hard to impress after spending about 14 years in Africa themselves. I concluded my work at Sarre Alfa and Suduwol and moved to Tanji, a village on the coast. My students sang fare-well songs and my host-family cooked a huge meal to see me off. I spent three months turning 22 new education trainees into hardened volunteers. They are all serving at their sites, integrating and training Gambian teachers. I have begun reorganizing a library at a school in Tanji and have already brought a few classes in for reading periods. Finally, I have met an amazing fellow volunteer who is somehow blind to my less-than-impressive appearance and awkward nature. We are enjoying trying to explain "dating" to her host-family. They are mostly shocked by the fact that I, despite being a man, usually cook and fetch water for her.

Who knows, now, what 2011 will bring? I only have four and half months left before I return from The Gambia, so this promises to be an exciting and eventful year. Thank you to all of you who have read or visited this blog over the years. I wish you all a happy new year!

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