So I want to try to write a blog post that kind of encompasses a normal day for me. I don’t know how well this will work but suffice it to say that this is kind of like a compilation of several things happening on different days, that all amounts to my average sort of day.
5 days a week I wake up at 8:30 in the morning. I have a cup of hot chocolate/Nescafe mixture and get ready for school. I try to be at school around 9:50. (On the 3 days I have a 10 am class) This leaves me about 20 or 25 minutes to greet the administration and chat with other professors. Technically, (by the schedule) class starts at 10, but after fighting against losing time in the classroom I have discovered that my student aren’t late and generally more ready to begin if I follow the actually practice of not starting until 10:10 or 10:15. This also gives me the opportunity to chat with the other teachers who, because we don’t have a staff room, congregate under a rather nice tree during the morning break. My school has something like 40 professors and I’m just beginning to feel like I’m getting to know some of the non-english teachers but its been slow going. Most of the teachers in Benin are on year by year contracts, so they might only be teaching at Copargo for the one year, or they might be back next year. My school has 3 female teachers aside from myself, two in the French department and one in physics. Or at least that’s how it was until this week. We got two new teachers, stationed here by the army these two are civil servants who are doing 6 months of service. The best thing, they are both women! I love watching them around the school in their uniforms. I think they are great example for the students. Women, teaching, and in the Army. Really fantastic.
Class is getting easier, the longer you teach the more used to it you become, and I’m starting to get a feel for my classrooms. When they actually understand something, when they don’t but are really bored or tired. My students are also becoming more interesting, they stopped being a mass of blank faces and have become individuals, which I think helps. I finish teaching at noon, and come home for lunch. I generally spend lunch and repos around the concession I eat and then chat with the other families here, or read and rest. After repos I make my social visits (on days when I don’t have afternoon classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday) almost always first is my mama.
Generally I sit with her for around an hour, sometimes she’s doing something and I help. Like shelling peanuts. Which is hard on the hands. She always has a series of questions to ask me, or things to comment on.
“Tante, this is hard work isn’t it?"
"Yes, it is, this one doesn’t want to open.” (indicating a nut)
“Do you have these over there?”
“In the states?”
“Yes the states, what other over there is there?”
“Yes we have these, but we don’t make sauce with them. We eat them just like this, or make peanut butter.”(she translates this into Dendi for her other friend who is there)
“You put that on bread don’t you?”
“Yes we put that on bread.”
After Mama, I visit my other friends or just say hello in passing, then wind my way home for dinner. Unless I’ve been asked to eat dinner somewhere in which I case that’s where I go. After that I come home and begin to put together a lesson plan for the next class I have, sometimes when I’m working in the evenings the kids in the concession will come over and draw or read. I’ve started a wall of their artwork which makes them very happy.