Tuesday, January 23, 2007

it is good

I am watching the monkeys frolick outside my bedroom window as I ponder the first week of my time here in Zambia. It is a difficult thing to make any sort of coherence out of the scrambled flurry of thoughts, reactions, experiences, and wonderings that are jostling about in my head, but I shall make a valiant effort, I promise . . .
Perhaps it will help if I list [lists help me think :-)] some of the difficulties and some of the joys of my time thus far, beginning with difficulties, as that shall be a decidedly shorter shortlist, I suspect:
-It is difficult to be disconnected, in that the internet access I expected to have does not exist. This may or may not be fixed while I am here, but for an indefinite period of time at least, the wireless network does not, er, network ;-), and so I am limited to the [extremely limited] times when I can borrow the wired computer in the lodge’s main office.
-It is difficult, in a similar vein, to be dependent upon others for all that I am used to being decidedly independent about: housing, schedules, laundry, meals, coffee [I unfortunately made the error, upon first arriving, of hooking up my water heater, via the electric adaptor I had brought with me; shorting out the electricity led to the embarrassing realization that I could not use such energy-using appliances!].

-But it is good, also, to have said level of dependence, in all its difficulty. I needed to let go of some of my self-sufficiency, to break out of all my comfort zones.
-It is good—more than good—to spend my days with my students. To have a day fly by, morning to night, in a flurry of lessons learned, questions asked, questions answered [hopefully correctly!], tests given, warthogs chased out of the schoolroom, etc, etc. [yes, I’m afraid the warthogs have decided I am their new favorite person, and so they make all-too-frequent visits to whatever happens to be my current location]

By the way, now the bushbuck is the current animal outside my window—he is my favorite “friend” so far :-)

-It is good to chuckle at the “Where are you running to?” question that I have been getting as I jog past those walking along the local paths.
-It is good to see memory-jogging sights, such as women pounding cassava, heads laden with loads of firewood, babies papoosed onto working mamas’ backs, men rhythmically whacking the grass with their scythes, etc, etc.
-It is good to walk along the path surrounded by a crowd of little ones fighting for a turn at hand-holding and shouting over each other to ask me the one question they know in English: “How are you?”
-It is good to be getting to know the individual learning styles of my students. I see that Eva needs to be allowed to go off on learning tangents once she hits the point of no-return-fidgetiness with Science lessons. I see that Ellen has her most productive period in the late afternoon, once sisterly distractions are lessening; she even likes staying late, apparently enjoying her work more in the quiet of a classroom that is empty except for me and the occasional critter. I see that Lara often needs to just begin a new project in order to realize that she really does enjoy it after all . . .

It is good--it is so very good--to be here.


abby said...

anna...it's so good to read about your time so far. seems like many good times are ahead of you. you are already missed here. try throwing a rock at the warthog.

kel said...

Something that works very well on our dog (who's approximately half the size of a warthog's head) is to shoot compressed air at her when she's being a nuisance. It completely freaks her out and sends her scurrying in the opposite direction.

I also have to say that I'm very, very jealous that you could to watch monkeys frolic.

I am thrilled that you sound so happy and that your students are so fortunate to have such a loving and kind teacher.

anna j said...

thanks for the tips, folks--i will be sure to let you know if i have another encounter and end up trying one of them :-)
and more seriously, thank you for being kind enough to read and comment on my updates; it is good to know friends care from here on the other side of the world!