Well, another break has come and gone, and now we’re just finishing up our first week of term 2. Have I ever explained the school year, here? Term 1 goes from February through April, then there’s a 2 week break. Term 2 starts mid-May and goes until mid-August, then there’s another 2 week break. Term 3 is September through November, and then school lets out for the big holiday, which is December and January.
Over the 2 week break, the Gender and Development Committee, which is made up of volunteers, came to Tanna to run their annual training of trainers for Camp GLOW/BILD (Girls Leading Our World/Boys In Leadership Development). The camps are designed to teach life skills to youth (leadership, decision-making, reproductive health) and every year the GAD committee goes to a different island and invites Peace Corps from all over the country to come, bring someone from their communities, and learn how to run the camps. So for 5 days I and about 50 other people, many of them volunteers, lived at a nearby school and went through a 6 AM to 9 PM daily schedule of workshops and activities.
It was exhausting, but gave me the opportunity to demonstrate condom use on a piece of sugarcane, teach everyone how to tie-dye, and sing “Kumbaya” around a bonfire, so I came out of it feeling very, well, Peace Corps.
And before that happened, my mom came to visit! It was great. We spent a few days hanging out in Port Vila, and about 5 days here on Tanna, at my school. It was wonderful for her to finally get to see my home and meet my community.
This school term will be interesting. I have some fun plans for projects I want to start outside of the school day—painting a map of Vanuatu, doing a hygiene workshop with the kids, and starting a Girls/Boys Club based on the stuff I learned at the training of trainers. Of course, we also have 2 teachers starting maternity leave, and only one substitute coming in. Remember how at the beginning of the year, I was excited that only class 3 and 4 were sharing a teacher, unlike last year where every 2 classes shared a teacher? Yeeeah looks like that’s not gonna last. Class 1 and 2 will each have their own, but 3 and 4 will share, as will 5 and 6. It’s hard on the teachers, unfair to the kids, and puts me in a weird position—I feel guilty not stepping up and just taking on one of the classes, but that’s not my role here. My job is to work WITH the teachers, not do their work FOR them, and if I took on a whole class—say, class 4—that would mean I couldn’t keep working with classes 1, 2, and 3. And that’s not happening, because those are honestly my favorite classes to teach.
Let’s see. I guess my final piece of news is that Toilet Crab, the little purple crab who lives in a hole next to my toilet, is still alive and well, and frankly bolder than ever. Every time I go in there he’s staring up at me with his beady yellow eyes, and if I toss a pebble at him, he no longer runs away, but tries to eat the pebble. I feel like he’s the mascot for my service. Weird, a little gross, but determined and in his own way, admirable.
Now that I’ve poetically compared myself to a crab that lives in a toilet, I should probably stop.
Six more months of service. And then it’s time for the wallop of reverse culture shock that is America. I’m guessing you guys don’t have friendly crustaceans living in your bathrooms.