Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sometimes I hate Nicaragua

This happened to my house a week ago.

Then I found this the following day. I've slept with one eye open since.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Roads in Nicaragua

This is why I'm currently evacuated to Managua. I took this movie when I was stuck in a rural community 6km from my town. It used to be a road, but with the rains it turned into a river.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What's New With Me

Since I last posted, I've been home to the states, finished up a major part of my project and survived a "hurricane." Here it all is taken from an email I sent out a couple of weeks ago.

As far as getting back from the states, it was a lot easier this time than it was when I came back after Christmas last year. It was still hard, but I’m just in a much better position now. When I cam back from Christmas I still hadn’t even started formally teaching, so all my work was ahead of me and I still didn’t really know what I was doing. I also came back and the entire month of January was vacation here so it was long and boring. This time most of my teaching is done for the year and everything is just so much easier now that I’ve been here awhile longer. I’m much more comfortable with my work, with my Spanish, with my friends, etc. so it was easier to come back to. It also helped that I have less than a year left to go and am planning on coming back again in December.

When I got back I had two really busy weeks. My class ends with a competition where all of the student business groups present their work and their business plans in the town. The best groups move on to a regional competition where they compete against other schools that have a PC volunteer teaching the same class, and the regional winners go on to a national competition in Managua. So, when I got back I had two weeks to finish teaching the class and organize the local competition. It was a lot of work, but ended up going pretty well.

I had all my groups present in class and from each section I picked the two or three best groups to present at the local competition. We used the town rec-center to hold the event. The first hour the kids sold their products at little tables and whoever showed up could walk around and look at the projects. Then when the power finally came back on (we had to wait for about an hour) each group presented for 8 minutes in front of 4 judges from the town and turned in their final reports. After the presentations, the judges picked the 3 winners that will now compete at regionals. It sounds like something pretty easy to pull off, but it was hard.

The night before I finally got the certificates sent to me from Managua but they ended up having an incorrect name on them, so I went to the internet cafĂ© at night to make new ones. In the middle of making them, the power went out. The power goes out everyday here from 7:30am until 2pm so I asked the owner if she would open the next morning at 6:30am! She said yes, so I woke up at 6am and made the certificates. Unfortunately she didn’t have certificate paper so I went to a little office supply store here and banged on the door at 7am to see if they had any. They didn’t so we just had to use normal paper. Then I showed up at the rec center and realized I was the one who was supposed to clean it before the event, so I had to recruit kids around the town to bring mops and brooms to help me. When I finally got that done, I went back to the school to take the speakers, microphone, tables, and chairs over with the truck I had arranged to use. Not surprisingly the owner of the truck had decided to go to a different city that day even though he told me he’d be around. So with no other truck available, I recruited more kids to help me carry everything over by hand. I made two or three trips carrying tables and speakers on my back! The people in my town kept yelling at me, “David!! Por que esta trabajando como un burro?” David!! Why are you working like a donkey?

When we finally got started, things went well and I was actually really proud of my students. You think throughout the year that no one is getting anything, but some of them were listening. Granted these were the best 8 or 9 groups of the 24 or so I had so I’m not working with a high percentage of listeners, but nonetheless, I was really happy with the work they did. And it was nice to see them excited about the project and what they had done. It was funny watching them present…they were really nervous, shaking even at some points. My students are mostly 15 years old so most of the time they’re all tough and too cool for school, so it was great to see them so out of their element. When we were finishing the competition I even remember thinking that I wish I could be around for next year’s, so that goes to show what a high point it was for me.

Anyway, since then it’s been great. Now that most of my teaching part is over I’ve told my teachers that I’ll happily still plan class with them, but I’m not teaching anymore. This means I show up for class and help, but really don’t need to do anything…I’m really just preparing the three groups that are going to regionals. It’s a lot less stressful and less frustrating like this. Now when class is cancelled or it doesn’t go well I can just shrug my shoulders and go back to my hammock.

As you can imagine though I have a lot more time on my hands now, so I’m starting to plan some new projects. I’m currently rounding up about 20 names of good students in third year that I can give little classes to after school. These are the kids I’ll teach next year and I would like to give them some classes on leadership, teamwork, communication, presenting, math etc. that will really help them next year with my class. I’m going to try to do this after school where the youth group normally meets so I can kind of kill two birds with one stone. Prepare next year’s students and revitalize the youth group building which isn’t being used at all right now. We’ll see if it works.

I’m also going to try to start a bank like the bank I started at the local school at the community school I teach. I’ve had one meeting with them and things went well but then we never followed up on it, so I’ll have to be a bit more proactive. It sucks to always have to be the cheerleader.

The hurricane was really anticlimactic. All the volunteers around my area were moved to a larger city where we stayed in a hotel for 2 days. Nothing happened where we were (it was actually fairly nice out) but it did hit Nicaraguan’s Atlantic coast really hard. It’s actually been a lot worse here since. Last weekend I wasn’t around my town but apparently it rained horribly hard which explained why half my house was flooded when I got back. You can imagine I was happy about that.

Currently, I'm out of my site and staying in Managua until further notice. It's been raining for a week straight so Peace Corps evacuated a large portion of volunteers to Managua. My town is fine, but I couldn't get out to my rural school because the rivers have risen so much. On my way into Managua we passed a huge sink hole in the middle of the highway. It looked like an earthquake had hit. It'll be interesting to see how long we're holed up in Managua.