drawing ninjas


The end of my first two weeks teaching came much easier than the start. I’m still teaching the same Première IT class and Sixième English class, but by now I have much more control over my classroom dynamics. With my only teaching experience being senior citizens, discipline problems were never something I was dealing with on a daily basis. Here, I am the new mother to 30 african children for four hours in the week. It might not sound to bad now, but i get them for 2 hours straight two times a week, and in between the hours theres a short break that gives them enough time to run to the little shack by the soccer field and buy cookies and sugar coated beignets and come back with sugar sprinkled across their cheeks. I almost lost my voice the first week, but this week I gave them a seating chart and thought of better activities to keep their hands occupied. I gave them paper for drawing and practicing numbers and it worked perfectly. I was also amazed at some of the drawings people did for me. “Draw me 3 bananas,” “draw me five tee-shirts,” “draw me 12 trousers,” “draw me 1 ninja”. They especially liked the ninja, and I got lots of nice renditions of dragon ball z characters.

In my Première class, I’ve been going over the different types of networks. The discipline issues are more what you would expect in high school—more psychological torment than loud and unruly babysitting like my sixièmes. The first days they loved finding my buttons and seeing how far they could push me. They laughed at every single inevitable mispronunciation of a word in french, asked me dumb questions to see how I would react. I always thought I’d hate teaching at a high school, but I’ve actually had a fun time giving them a run for their money. (2500 cfa to be exact, roughly 5 bucks) One girl asked me if she could sleep, laughing to herself at the ridiculousness of the question, and i answered with a casual yes, of course, and told her she could sleep outside and the class giggled. “in the sun??” she gasped. “yes, in the sun,” and shrugged my shoulders with a fake look of sympathy on my face and moved on while the class giggled more. I thoroughly enjoy pretending to be a teacher.

I teach IT 1 hour each day and tuesdays we get to be in the lab for a practical lesson. Last tuesday there was no internet and the kids were BUMMEDD. Who knows why, though, because this is a very normal occurrence in Bafia. Insteach I showed them the inside of a computer and all it’s parts and pieces, and I pointed out the network I helped set up for model school so they could have a real life example of what we’re been learning. Its so strange teaching computer classes without computers.

The next day I gave a quiz just to see if what i was teaching was getting through any of the students. When I collected them i was so excited to grade them—it was the same feeling i had when i picked up the drawings of the 6emes. It was a proud mom feeling and i wanted to scan everything into my comp and put it on my blog so all my family and friends could see beautiful drawings of bananas ninjas and diagrams of local area networks complete with hubs and switches and be proud.

Teaching is still super hard—lesson planning and discipline and such, but i really have come to like it. After the test, I finally saw the rewarding side of it all. A few kids didn’t do very good, but the majority did awesome and my prize for the tope 9 were to use the computers in the lab with internet. One girl got a 20/20! I was so excited. I finally felt like i could actually do this for 2 years.

stolen shoes


This morning when I was packing for school and the first day of clubs I discovered that my cleats had been stolen out of my room. It affected me in the strangest way, because I love my family and have only been locking my door when I wasn’t at the house, but I remembered my shoes being there yesterday and this morning they were gone. I tried not to cry all morning—and it definitely was not because I no longer have the $10 cleats I bought from goodwill 4 years ago. I knew this would change a lot about my household. I’ve been compromised. The space I’ve been working so hard to make my home is no longer comfortable and communal with my sisters.

Each night they’ve been coming in while I do my lesson plans and homework to watch my favorite anime movie on my ipod and dig through my toiletries basket using my nail files, fingernail polish and reading the toothpaste labels. After this morning, with Mama Lydie getting on the floor to search for my shoes under my bed, I realized that would no longer be part of my routine. I came home from school today and locked my room door just after dropping off my bag by my desk. Patricia has been hanging around the table just outside my door, but I can’t let her in. I have new rules for my room, and in my room I’m making new rules for my classroom. I’m over my Première students not respecting me because they have the power in the language department, and because I have the extreme opposite of an intimidating presence. I also was lucky that my computer and ipod were blatantly overlooked in the cleat theft, and need to start taking more precautions. As sad as it is.

Tomorrow is my first class teaching the sixième anglais class! I’m excited. It’s going to be completely different than my upper class IT class in french. Babies and english and a banana song for the end. 3 hours of teaching tomorrow. I hope I survive.

i’ll miss the big city, but I’m ready for my village

I have less than a week before I leave for Africa. On my bed I have stacks of clothes organized and ready for boxing, and my computer is playing BBC radio where Obama is giving a speech to both houses of Parliament speaking hopefully about the future. I thought I’d give it a listen before it becomes the only reachable station on my shortwave radio. I’m so excited to leave and lord knows I’ve waited long enough for this dream to finally come true. Last April I was accepted and waited patiently for my posting. After a few months I was told I would leave late February, and come January I was told the programs were filled and I would need to wait and see if there would be space for the May-July departures. My mom started pressing me to think about alternatives “just in case.” It was a lot of time to sit and wait, but I hated the idea of giving up. My aunt and uncle were awesome enough to invite me to their home in Chicago to keep my hands busy working downtown and getting quality cousin time until I got further word from PC. I finally received the package I had been waiting for and everything seems to be falling in line—as it usually does.

I waited a lot longer than I thought I would, but I honestly feel more prepared than ever. I’ve gotten to say goodbye to everyone I love and will miss. I learned how to survive without being surrounded by friends locally, living under the roof of a different family. I helped redo a kitchen from the floors to the ceiling and commuted to the city every day—working hard and designing for the often underrated non-monetary rewards. I even found a new friend to practice my french with twice a week—laura, who just happened to be from Cameroon! I got to do everything I wanted to do:

  • ate at all the famous deep dish pizza places
  • saw Peter pan on broadway with my cousins and Nikki (my favorite cubicle neighbor and ice machine escort every morning!)
  • thrift shopped in Wicker park
  • did the Bean and explored everywhere with katie D
  • danced in Boystown with Conner and Jibs
  • had casual monday lunches with Sean
  • went clubbing by limo with Jarred (still don’t understand how)
  • went to an art exhibition featuring the same Jarred (so proud!)
  • finished (almost) an entire kitchen redo
  • saw a bunch of cousin plays!

I loved Chicago, historical blizzard and all. I’ll miss the big city, but I’m ready for my village!

Gallery Error : Unknown Error Please try again later

last day of school

i’m excited for my last day of class tomorrow. i’m going to cover computer updates and an intro to iphoto. also, at the request of my elderly students, i’ll be giving a glimpse into the techno-teenage world of twitter, facebook and much, much more!

i made this super cute diagram to show the different versions of OS X to go along with The Difference between Updates and Upgrades.

old people & computers

tomorrow is the day I get to talk to the lady at the front office of the neighborhood and ask her about the possibility of teaching a computer class at the club house. (the neighborhood community center next to the marina) I’m super excited about the whole plan. I’ve researched and created some lesson plans that I hope to solidify after getting advice from Pat, the office lady. I also want to consult the closest thing I have to a focus group consisting of my grandma and Konnie, my grandpa’s wife on my mom’s side. I’m crossing my fingers for a “of course you can bring these old ppl into the 2000’s!” It will keep my hands busy in January at least, and will also be a great thing to talk about when my PC rep calls me. If I don’t hear any good news soon, I think I’m chicago bound. It’s a lot more difficult to live here than I was anticipating. I just need a distraction and teaching will hopefully be the key.

for my meeting tomorrow I designed an example flyer I want to give to people with the schedule of classes and a friendly message. it was fun to play around with. i’m wayy too productive here.

a fresh new year

Dear Kimberly,

Greetings from the Peace Corps Placement Office. I am writing to update you on the status of your Peace Corps application.

As you are aware, you were originally nominated for a Computer Science/IT program departing in February.  Due to a variety of factors including but not limited to: programmatic changes, changes in departure dates, competitiveness for programs, medical accommodations, and timing of medical and legal clearances, your program and all other remaining Computer Science/IT programs departing between January and March of 2011 are almost completely full at this time.

If we are not able to place you in the program to which you were nominated, you will be considered for similar programs departing in April and May of 2011. Please remember that it is very important that you remain as flexible as possible at this point in terms of geographic preferences, since the primary objective of our office is to place skilled individuals in the programs where their experience and background is most needed in order to serve the needs of our partner countries.

During the next 3-4 weeks your Placement Officer, M***** H*****, will conduct a final suitability review of your application and contact you to discuss your application.  Kindly note that, while we will try to accommodate preferences for all qualified, competitive applicants, we cannot guarantee any placement will reflect any or all of these preferences.

Your patience and commitment to serving in the Peace Corps are greatly appreciated. We thank you for your understanding as we continue to work diligently to qualify applicants and place them in suitable programs.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Ms. H***** at *******@peacecorps.gov.

Best regards,

this was the email I’d been waiting 4 months for. I wonder how many volunteers received the same forwarded email. this is working for the government I guess. my first reaction was anger. I read through it three times wondering what the heck I was going to do, but also wondering what the other volunteers who’d read the same thing were going to do. I’m extremely lucky my parents were willing to take me in during this wait period. I have food and a room that I don’t have to pay rent for. some people surely have given up the same as me—apartment, car, steady job) in the expectations of leaving at their promised departure date.

no use in dwelling.

I spent the rest of the day brainstorming with my parents all of the possibilities of filling this extension of time with productive activity. i came up with a few solutions.

  • start a class teaching computers in the neighborhood and/or neighborhood across the street
  • get an internship somewhere
  • get a job at the sign shop in stuart where my dad has connections
  • move back to lawrence, see what i can do there
  • move to my dads apt in dallas and get a job or internship
  • do something awesome to make peace corps use me to change that “almost” to just “completely” full (see the first option)

last night my uncle had heard the news through the grapevine that is my dad and grandmother and sat down with his family doing a little brainstorming of their own. he called me with exciting news that i could live with them in oak park, chicago right on the blue line and work for the ABA doing marketing materials and possible website stuff as a non-paid intern. add that to the list plz.

  • live in chicago and work in the justice system doing awesome things where i have not only family but FRIENDS!

things are looking up, but i’m still waking up with my stomach in knots from dreams about organizing boxes, packing up random crap and other stressful non-dreamy dreams. let’s hope this improves after i talk to the office lady of the neighborhood on the 3rd and she says yes to my teaching proposition. I even made flyers and lesson plans already. first class: mousercize!

aside from this not so positive update, i’m excited for this new year. even though everything’s been thrown off from plan a little, I love not having so much stuff. I have just the basics. all the clothes, belongings and memories i love in a trunk. surrounded by my family that I love dearly and options to go anywhere with enough money to take me. not many people get such a fresh start.

i love all my friends, and i got to have a wonderful goodbye and the best closure before leaving my home of the past four years.

cheers to new beginnings and new adventures.

moving and shakin

I haven’t had too much to write lately. not because of a lack of thoughts— more like too many. everything has been taken off the walls and the rest organized to sell off. the past few nights before falling asleep the last thing i see are these blank unfamiliar walls, which spins me into a shallow discomforting sleep with dreams flickering between what still needs to be done and why is time moving this quick. katie moved out last night so for the first time i’m on my own. its exciting! it sucks! today is my living estate sale and all my stuff is slowly disappearing as my friends come and find new treasures and my treasures find new homes.

but we’ve had our time.
silver bells and orange juice in guinness glasses

when my roommate and I have the same day off, the morning is guaranteed to be awesome. this morning was no exception. i woke up first and started making biscuits and eggs for some breakfast sandwiches. i put the morningstar sausage in the microwave and rinsed off some strawberries. i woke up katie—mom style—and we ate breakfast on the couch.

last night we drove to the oread hotel to go to the jimmy johns and steal some toilette paper. across the street is my old apartment so i stopped in to say hi and grab the copious amounts of christmas records i’ve collected over the years. this morning, as we sat on the couch, we listened to john denver’s christmas for cowboys and talked about what our christmas traditions are until it wasn’t technically morning anymore.

katie did her hair as i talked to my aunt on the phone about peace corps. she sounded sleepy because she had stayed up till 4am reading the seventh harry potter to get ready for the movie. i have the best family ever. i havent gotten placed yet so i have nothing new on the pc front, but we talked about being pin cushions for shots and melt down prone on return. still excited.

best morning ever.