February 10th, 2014
It’s about 8pm on this fine, dark Monday morning and the electricity is out again. I’m waiting for my fellow PTC Math and Integrated Science teacher. We planned to meet at 7pm, but I am already a bit used to Ugandan time. I made a dinner of matooke, Old Bay/sugar rubbed steaks, garlic/rosemary steaks, and caramelized onions. The plan was to discuss the upcoming classes because there was some miscommunication concerning classes. It’s definitely not anyone’s fault, and I am more confused about the process than anything else. About two weeks ago I thought that classes would start last Monday on February 3rd, but it turns out that that was the orientation week and that Primary School Classes would start since it is a government-run school as opposed to the private Luteete PTC. Also because there has been no power in the office, the timetable (schedule) has not been available. I was also told that I would be teaching one class every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday involving Math, Integrated Science, and ICT. I had already met with my fellow teacher and discussed a planned approach to lesson planning, and we assumed that we would have two classes each week. I guess that I misunderstood him, because there are four instances each week when both Math and Integrated Science are taught. I realized this when I was given the rough draft of the timetable after I taught the 3 PTC students who showed up to class this morning.
Later on I was informed that the secondary school examinations were being released from Kyambogo University. Many of the incoming 1st year PTC students were awaiting their results. One of the administrative staff members explained that I should still continue teaching and that more students would show up. And that was what I did this morning: I asked the 3 students what they wanted to review, since I didn’t find it conducive to begin teaching the curriculum until more of the students arrived. We reviewed systems of equations. For example: solve for x and y if (3x + 2y = 12) and (2x + 4y = 8). It was nice to get somewhat of an understanding of what the 1st years students’ skills were pertaining to basic algebra. We solved the system using the substitution method, addition/subtraction method, and then attempted to use matrices but it turned out to be too confusing for the students since they had forgotten much about matrices.
Nevertheless, it was nice to get back in the element of teaching. I am just looking forward to getting into a general routine when I can expect to teach classes with planned lesson plans on certain days of the week, maybe play Ultimate Frisbee or Soccer with the students, fetch 20L of water for the day, come home and do laundry, cook, bathe, watch an episode or two of The Wire (B-More represent!), and then prepare for the upcoming days. However, I am sure that I can only plan for the future to some extent. I mean, this is the Peace Corps right? It’s not ever gonna be routine or predictable, but I guess that this is part of what I signed up for.
In spite of never really knowing what is going on, I feel that some days I can go to bed knowing that I achieved some sort of small victory. For example, yesterday I was biking back to Luteete from Wobulenzi the back wheel of my bicycle popped as soon as I arrived on the school campus. I was thankful that it didn’t pop anywhere on the 11km stretch of hilly and dusty road that I had ridden upon. So today after I had finished teaching my class of 3 students, I removed the back wheel, tube, and tire from my bicycle and walked the 1km stretch to Bamunanika where I purchased a new tube (5,000/=), tire (15,000/=), and air pump (5,000/=). I then hurried back home so that I could use the bike tools that I had brought with me (allen wrenches, wrench, bicycle tire tool, and pliers) to install my new tube and tire. About 12 Ugandan children stared at me as I put in the new tube on the new tire. At first I was worried because the tire that I had bought rated at a thickness about .75” wider than the bicycle wheel. But I forced it in, and it just so happened to fit and I felt like I had accomplished something tangible. Sure it was a basic tire replacement on a bicycle, but to me it represented overcoming a problem that I did not expect. I learned some new Luganda words concerning bicycle parts, now know the prices for buying bicycle parts, and now can overcome this problem in Uganda in both Luganda and English.
For all of the failures and screw-ups that I do here, I achieve a few small victories. It’s all part of the ebb and flow indicative of my time here in Africa. So maybe I won’t be making any grandiose breakthroughs anytime soon, but these little victories are building up and slowly-by-slowly I am making it.