I Still Go To School

on teaching, learning, travelling


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Endspurt

It is done!

Friday, students were allowed to come in casual clothes, and they brought food for everyone.

Friday, students were allowed to come in casual clothes, and they brought food for everyone.

My year of teaching English in Abidjan has officially come to a close.

We had our graduation celebration last Sunday at the big event hall of the Police School. It was a nice event, a very positive vibe going on and lots of people (over 200). For me, it was an enjoyable occasion, though it also meant saying goodbye to the kids, whom I will miss a lot.

The last couple of weeks very quite intense, having to finish the report cards, and many of the kids finally waking up to the reality of school: If you don’t do any work, it will show in your results. Some understood that when I told them, others were honestly surprised. So most of the time in class I was moving from student to student non-stop, corrected their work during break and lunchtime and handed it back the lesson after. I did not sit down for a minute!

I have learned so many things this year about being a teacher and understanding African culture! These experiences will help me in my future teaching, and remain nice memories. My point system for discipline worked out quite well I believe, at least for 70% of the class. Some improved their behavior a lot during the year, some stayed the same, but none declined, which is nice! Additionally, I could make many connections and find really good friends in my colleagues, a fact which cannot be taken for granted!

I have only 10 days left in the country, 5th of July I will be leaving 😦

With my students: Maryvonne and Yan Ting

With my students: Maryvonne and Yan Ting

With my students: Maryvonne and Roseline

With my students: Maryvonne and Roseline

My students: Grade 8 Graduates!

My students from Grade 8: Graduated!

The Highschool graduates giving their speeches, and many tears are shed

The Highschool graduates giving their speeches, and many tears are shed

Pierrick and I

Pierrick and I

With my bro Willie

With my bro Willie

With the sports teacher, Eloge

With the sports teacher, Eloge

With my bro Armand

With my bro Armand

I will try to get more and better pictures of graduation when the official photographer arrives.

Meanwhile, the rainy season has started quite dramatically, from months without any rain during the day, to an entire week of torrential rain. The effect of rain on society here is immense! Think of it equivalent to snow in London: public transport stops, few people show up to work, markets are closed. When it rains, everything stops here. To top it off, sometimes electricity breaks down, so even working inside on your computer is not possible, unless your place has a generator (not many places do).

 

Moi et mon frere Wisdom, at his home for dinner

Moi et mon frere Wisdom, at his home for dinner

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His daughter, who tried taking pictures and succeeded after some tries 🙂

I visited the home of Wisdom, a friend I made in Palmerai. He is motivated to find a good job as a driver, and always on the search, but even with an agency it’s tough. If you have a car, you can hire someone privately for about 80.000 FCFA (€122,10) a month, to drive you around at any time to any place you want. You need to be lucky to find someone who pays decently. He told me he wants to work for white people, because they pay well and on time.

Anyways, he invited me for some spaghetti africaine. I think it’s amazing how easy people can trust you here and invite you into their homes, feed you and everything. And you find many who really just want to give out of a good heart, not because they want money from you.

What will I be doing until I go back to Austria? I want to try to visit different places, but most probably within Abidjan. I hope everything works out and I can tell you after 🙂

One thing that is sure:
I have started working on a website for the school, to give it more publicity and make the information for the parents more accessible. For now I’m gathering information and pictures.

 


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The early bird catches the flight

And time flies bye; it really does. So I thought in the early morning hours the airport would be nice and quiet. Surprise! 5:30 am – endless waiting lines!

Endless waiting lines at Vienna Airport. Very similar situation in Hamburg and Paris

Endless waiting lines at Vienna Airport. Very similar situation in Hamburg and Paris

Silly internet spots. Once again it proved useful to have multiple email accounts and get 15 minutes free couple of times ;)

Silly internet spots in CDG, Paris. Once again it proved useful to have multiple email accounts and get 15 minutes free couple of times 😉

My journey took me from Vienna (free Wifi) via Hamburg (free Wifi) to Paris (expensive wifi! Why??), and finally to Abidjan (super cheap wifi). The journey lasted round 25 hours. When I arrived at the exit at Abidjan airport (like every place of importance named after Felix Houphouet Boigny), immediately a flock of helpers spotted the solo white boy and offered me taxis, SIM cards, a hotel and to change my Euros to CFA. The taxi driver wanted to charge me CFA 10.000 for a journey that I paid 3000 when I took it before. Then I knew I was back in Cote d’Ivoire.
When I finally got back to the house in Riviera Palmerai, I was immediately welcomed by my host family with hugs and African hugs. What are African hugs? Not sure if that’s what they are called, but they are similar to the in-air-kisses left and right, only without the kissing and you only touch each other’s foreheads on the sides with your temples.
I really felt like I was back home – at my second home! After some breakfast and a 4 hours “power-nap” (I couldn’t sleep during the journey) I made my way to Jina School! I’ve been told that we were getting a new classroom and another floor. The building was planned to be finished in a week, but… it doesn’t look like it will be done by that time.

Inspecting the work. The change is much bigger than I had expected

Inspecting the work. The change is much bigger than I had expected

Here’s the wooden frame. They use a wood they call “piemont” (pepper), which smells spicy when dry. It’s cheap, because foreign markets are not interested in it. So the classroom for high school will be larger, and on the second floor there will be office space. It’s a much needed extension, as the classroom was already uncomfortably packed.

Building material at the basketball field.

the floor and sides of the new classroom and offices.

the floor and sides of the new classroom and offices.

Here’s my classroom. Seems like I will not be able to teach here this week…

Well... my classroom turned into a storage room!

Well… my classroom turned into a storage room!

I wanted to activate mobile data on my mobile phone, but they let you purchase the internet on the mobile without telling you that you have to activate it first in a shop. My unlimited Internet USB stick seems to have a limit after all, so it’s not working either. “Cyber Cafés” are closed on Sundays. Am I addicted or is it normal to miss something that you are so used to and depending on?
Gloria, our secretary at the school, had a birthday party, which I was invited to and I attended. It was nice, with much singing and cake and sweets and dancing.


This time I brought five laptops to school, all donated to me by family and friends (Thank you all!!).

yay, laptops for the school!

yay, laptops for the school!

I really would like to test Moodle in combination with the home schooling system. I think it will be a perfect match. How much effort and financial investment would it take to transform an analogue into a digital classroom? Is there a market for blended learning in Africa? The shipping of the books from the US takes 3 months, and it’s expensive. I will look further into it after talking to the headmistress.

So I will start teaching again on Monday, in small spurts, as the building is still going on. It will be nice to see my students again 🙂