19 February 2009

Correspondence Match 19 February 2009

Hi everyone!

I'll put together a little summary of a local folk tale or two. It'll be a fun exercise and get me practicing my translation skills!

In the meantime, a little summary of school here. I didn't get a chance to ask my classes to answer the question themselves, but I will do so next week:

School starts at 7am normally, but 6.30 on Mondays and Fridays when there is a 'Rassemblement' or gathering around the flag to sing the national anthem and for teachers, the censeur (sort of a disciplinary administrator), or the director to make announcements. Each day the students sweep the school grounds before classes start. They use large palm fronds as brooms that they have to bring from home. The school grounds are just sand/dirt mixtures, so they sweep the fallen leaves and trash to the side, into the brush surrounding the school. There aren't any trash cans around; students just throw litter anywhere on the ground (something I'm hoping to remedy while I'm here). When they get a big enough pile of leaves and trash, the pile is burned.
Classes last for 55 minutes each, although there are some that use a double period. There are three classes before a 25 minute mid-morning break at 9.45. During 'récréation', local women come to the school and sell food: rice and beans with a spicy oily sauce, sweet fried bread (like a doughnut hole, kind of), fried bread with fish or pasta filling, and bouille (pronounced boo-wee) which is a sugary, warm drink made out of starches. It's an acquired taste :) I'll see if I can find a recipe for it.

After récréation, there are two more classes before lunch at 12.00. For lunch, everyone goes home. Lunchtime is often the hottest time of the day, so the break for both schools and offices is usually from 12.00 to 14.30 (2.30). It's a time to eat lunch and then take a nap to help your body cool down a bit.
After lunch, the schedule is more flexible. Some students will have another two classes, others will do 'travail manuel' (physical work), which means clearing the fields around the school, cutting the grass on the soccer field (by hand with machetes!!!), tending the corn or manioc growing in the school's fields, etc. There are no classes on Wednesday afternoons - this is the time set aside for sporting matches. Soccer is the most popular sport. Each class forms its own team and then competes against the other classes for the school trophy. Soccer is such an important sport here that there are some high schools that are specifically for soccer players - students have to try out for them and then they are trained to be on the national team.

There are few girls who play on the soccer teams at the school, this is partly because there are fewer girls than boys at the school at all. In between the soccer matches played this year, teams of girls ran relays against each other to earn a prize for their class. I've included a couple pictures of the soccer matches and relays.

For the TV question -

Some people in Mission Tové have generators - especially the churches and the buvette/cafeterias (where you can buy cold sodas or beers and some food). I know that the pastor of the Baptist Church next door to me has a television. He gets really bad reception, but he does have one. Most people rely on radios for entertainment and news, even in villages where there is electricity. But, when I venture down the road to the village called Agoé which is between Mission Tové and the capital city, Lomé, I sometimes see groups of kids and adults in a tight crowd watching a football game on a small television, facing out into the street from a little buvette or shop.

I had an interesting conversation with the Public Affairs officer at the Embassy today. She was explaining that tons of people request English reading or listening material from her, but she has a hard time filling those requests because all the US resources are on CDs or USB keys, whereas most people here rely on radios or cassette players. It's an interesting conundrum: how to develop resources and market them to Africa when the places that are creating the resources use entirely different technology?

I went to see the PA officer because I'm in the middle of organizing a summer camp here run by Peace Corps volunteers and a local non-governmental organization (NGO) that's dedicated to overcoming ethnic tension while teaching young people life skills like public speaking, good nutrition and health, and issues around sexual harassment and rape. The embassy normally gives a lot of support to the camp, financially and with other resources. I'm getting really excited about the camp - 4 weeks of hanging out with amazing young people and encouraging them to take development into their own hands and get their friends and family involved. (Plus all the awesome camp fires, songs and silly stuff that goes along with summer camp.) It's going to be great!

I hope that I'll be able to come visit you in person in June, I'll be checking out flights for the next couple weeks trying to find something affordable :). I look forward to Renaissance Faire photos! It was one of my absolute favorite days in high school. I used to make my own corsets and skirts to wear!


1. 3eme students versus 4eme
2. 6eme students win against 5eme
3. Girls passing off the relay stick
4. Girls from 4eme win!

1 comment:

Jess said...

Hey Rose! I got nominated (today in fact) to be a small business adviser in Togo. Like most newbies, it's time to scour the web and see what other PC volunteers are doing. I'm happy to find your blog and hear what is going on in your world. Hope all is well!