Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Saratamata and back in the training village

We are in Port Vila for the day, visiting the teacher’s college and the provincial education office for Shefa province and . . . . . visiting the internet cafĂ©.

Everyone is back from wokabaot now and it was comical to see how happy we all were to be back and see all of our group again. I had mixed feelings coming back, as we all did. I was looking forward to the comfort of being somewhere familiar again, back with my host family in the training village. And it was great to hear about everyone else’s wokabaot experiences. But when I got back to the training village I remembered how noisy it is. Well, relatively noisy. There are lots of barking dogs and crying children at my house in the training village. My new host family doesn’t have barking dogs or crying children. All they have is one extremely rowdy rooster who thinks dawn comes at 3:30 am. And my new host family is great. It’s just hard to go to a place that is all new and kind of start over again.

Once again, I have a really flas (fancy) set up. My host family in the training village is probably the most sophisticated--cement house, flush toilet, inside shower, tile floors, generator, etc. My new host family isn’t that well to do, but they also have a cement house with SCREENS in the windows! Screens! They have lots of fruit and nut trees in the yard and they grow most of their own food--manioc, taro, plantains, coconuts, cabbage, and various frruits that are in season. I have 2 new sisters (one of which lives on Santo with her husband) and 4 new brothers, ages 9 - 22. I’ll try to put up a picture. My host mama knows how to weave the mats and baskets that are so common here so I’m hoping to learn that skill from her. I also have room next to my house for a garden so I’m hoping to get some help with that too while I stay with my host family.

The village where my host family lives is about 20 minutes from the provincial education office in Saratamata and from the house that will be mine eventually. I will live with my host family for the first month at least and then move to Saratamata sometime in January. Both villages are really nice, quite small with grass and trees and nice people. Saratamata also has 4 food stalls (cheap food!) and 4 stores including an ice cream store! And I thought joining the Peace Corps meant deprivation. J Still no hot water so that solar shower the ladies from CCS sent will come in handy! And even though I will have electricity for a part of every day, I won’t have internet access except REALLY SLOW dial-up so I’m not sure how often I will get to update the blog. I will still receive the emails you send to because the office will send them on but I’ll probably be writing more letters or asking Mom and Dad to post updates for me. And since I will have electricity, those of you who asked about sending movies and music can send away!

So we are back in the training village and actually getting some really helpful training. Kath, you would have laughed to see me today and yesterday. In our sessions yesterday, we made letter identification cards and sight word identification cards so we could test kids when the school year begins again. (Summer vacation here is in December and January.) And today, we colored alphabet cards. We also learned how to make our own books so we could do it for fun or teach the local teachers how to do it so they can write books in the local languages for their classrooms. We’ve also learned how to bake in the all-purpose sauce pans that we use here in Vanuatu and we learned how to use the assessment tools that we made. The best session was a Bislama lesson when our teacher tried to figure out how to translate things like “learner-centered instruction” and “differentiated instruction.” Each of those took about 4 lines of notebook paper to explain.

My Bislama took some pretty good strides forward this week, maybe because I had to use it more. I’ve started picking up the “tune” of Bislama and I don’t have to think as long to translate what I want to say. I was able to talk to my host sister tonight and I understood her. I had trouble understanding her before, I think, because her European language is French rather than English. But then I had to ask my Uncle Savi to slow down and start again when he talked to me right after that. Small steps, I guess.

I guess that’s it for today. I know I write this every time, but I am so grateful to those of you who are writing and emailing and sending packages. I love to hear about what is going on in your lives, the little things as much as the big things. I will post an alternative mailing address for the provincial office in Saratamata but you can use the PMB 9097 address too. The Peace Corps will forward any mail that arrives in Port Vila on to me.

Until next time . . . . .