In the midst of a looming thunderstorm I discovered the pink and purple postcard of a sunset in Seattle. Once the initial excitement of receiving mail (real, actual, physical mail!!) from a friend subsided, I read it.
“How do you fill your days?” she asked.
Although I joke about the endless hours spent eating peanuts and watching the chickens in my backyard, I insist that I do work as well. Sometimes this means chasing chickens out of the English Center (although my students are far better at it than me), and sometimes this means actually standing in front of a classroom and getting my hands dirty — with chalk, of course.
I teach 7th graders
Most of the volunteers here are assigned to teaching at the Middle and High school levels. I teach the baby 7th graders who are in their second year of English. But raging in age from 9 to 15, not all of them are that “baby”.
I’m developing resources & filling up the bookshelves of our English Center (ECANT)
The first volunteer at my site (I’m number 4) set up an English Center that’s modeled after one in a nearby city, called Antsirabe. However, it’s seriously lacking in easy English readers (Where’s the Dr.Seuss!?!) and some of the other teachers I work with have expressed a need for new English learning games. Fortunately, there’s tons of organizations willing to donate books.
Creating fun events at the English Center
Already I’ve hosted a conversation club, which was intended for adults but ended up being a group of fantastic and motivated high school students. Also, we show kids films every Saturday with our wonky, sort of broken DVD player, and I’m working on burning a few new ones they haven’t seen before. The other week, we watched Madagascar… with the chicken.
But there’s still room for more! Starting in January and February I hope to get story time and games nights going. We also begin our Adult English course.
I teach a monthly cooking class…
And then of course there’s cooking classes with the teachers! So far, we’ve only had one, but we made some delicious chocolate pudding in spirit of the holiday season. I count it as an accomplishment that it’s now made its way to one of my students’ Christmas menus.
7 replies on “Madagascar: Life as an Education Volunteer for the Peace Corps”
You have my respect and admiration for dedicating your life to such a worthy cause.
It’s great to see you having a conversation club at your site. Even though Malagasy students study English at least 2 hours a week in class since they are 6th graders, a lot of them (except in big city like Tana, Antsirabe, Tamatave,…) don’t have the opportunity to learn how to speak and practice their English.
So happy I stumbled upon your blog. I was in Madagascar a few months ago and loved it!!! I would go back in a heart beat. Looking forward to your next post!
Thanks for the comment, Maia! It’s a beautiful country and I can’t believe that I lucked out on being placed here for Peace Corps. It’d be super if you got the chance to come back.
Sounds like you’ve had plenty of great ideas! I’d love to see this part of Africa. Maybe in 2012 I can finally make this a reality. I could probably pick up a thing or two from the monthly cooking class too.
Thanks, Will! It’s an incredible country to visit and if you do manage to make your way to this part of the world you’re more than welcome to pop by my cooking class ;D
Merry Christimas Jessie.