A bit of reprieve

I headed down to Mbale this yesterday with the two nearby PCVs from my group. We met two more there, plus a few from another training class, and had a great day of eating Indian food, buying things for our houses that aren’t available at site, and otherwise just chillaxing. I came back today, though there was no particular reason for me to do so. I feel like I should be forcing myself to stay at site so that I adjust more quickly, even though I would prefer to be associating with my fellow PCVs. I just need time, but I feel like I have too much of it!

I will now be using the school’s electricity to do all of my ironing. I bought a flat iron in Mbale to do so. Just watching John try to use that stupid charcoal iron made my American efficiency/practicality-meter explode and I had to tell him to stop after a few shirts. It’s really awful, and I can’t imagine why the Ugandan culture demands flatly ironed clothing when so many of them don’t have electricity. But I guess culture isn’t something that revolves around what makes sense.

I now have an idea of what I’ll be doing for the rest of the academic year (two of three terms remain). Here’s the plan:

Next week I will be coming to the school every day to help with Holiday teaching. Apparently it’s illegal for schools to teach on the holidays or to charge for teaching, both of which the school is doing. I technically won’t be teaching and I’m volunteer, so I have nothing to worry about anyway. I’ll just be making myself available to the students for any sciency questions that they may have and to give support to the teachers who will be here. Plus, Ugandan teachers have a strong history of being late or not showing up to classes, so I’ll be on the lookout for teacher-less classrooms that I can jump into and make up a lesson for on the spot.

Then, on the following Sunday (the 10th) I will be going to the SESMAT conference in Soroti, assuming that the Ministry gives my school the money for us to go (not a safe assumption). It is required of all science teachers and is the second conference in a series of three. At least one of my fellow Volunteers will be there and I think others will come visit, but the thing is supposed to last 10 days. And that is too many, although there may be working showers!

After the conference we have a couple days to prepare to start the term. Which means that I have to do most of my lesson planning this week. And for what I’ll be doing during the term:

I make up exactly one half of the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) department. The other half is my Counterpart. We have eight computers, and there have not been any ICT classes yet in the school. The HT got permission to charge the USE studets 10000 UGX/term to increase the abilities of the department (air conditioning, more computers, carpet, a ceiling), and so he wants to make sure that every student gets to be in the ICT classes. That’s more than 1000 students. With two teachers. So, this means that we can’t co-teach classes, which is what we were hoping to do, and instead have to split the load evenly. We are going to break them into about 11 groups of 100+, and teach an 80 minute class to each group once a week. And with, I repeat, 8 computers. I’ll get into the logistics of that once we figure them out ourselves!

I’ll also be teaching Senior 1 (Secondary School goes S1-S4 for “Ordinary” level, and S5-S6 for “Advanced” level) physics because there are only 3 physics teachers and they want to lighten the load a bit. The S1-S3 classes are USE, and so they are huge, and are broken into three “streams”, each having something over 100 students.  I’ll be teaching two streams. This means that I’ll be teaching something like 17-19 periods (40-minutes) per week, with full-time being 24.

On top of teaching, my counterpart and I will be running weekly workshops for the teachers on how to use computers for work and communication. I figure that these can run parallel to what we teach the students, since most people here have absolutely no familiarity with computers.

And then I’m supposed to be starting some sort of HIV/AIDS awareness/avoidance/education club. Or something. The details are sketchy, but I’m supposed to have a work plan by the start of the term (!).

So I am going to have my hands full, and I really couldn’t be happier about it (in theory). Who knows how it will actually go, and I’m still bored and wanting to do work, but relief is on its way!