Wednesday, 30 November 2011

lulu part 2

Side note: I'm trying to keep my posts shorter and hopefully interesting so I wanted to break this one up into two.

On the cultural side of things, I've been also getting more accustomed to village life and am always learning new things.

Gambian weddings:  Still figuring out all the different traditions of the Mandinka, but I went to a 'family' wedding in Brikama (near the coast, not near my village), where the bride was moving to the husband's compound.  They were both decked out, and a lot of people were around eating a lot of food. I thought that there was going to be some dancing, but there wasn't.  So far, I like American weddings better.   The actual 'wedding' is a separate ceremony than the moving of the bride to the husband's compound.  I experienced this in my village as well.  My host 'sister' (may actually be cousin), Koota's husband would come visit in the evenings one week. I was confused as to why she still lived on my compound but they referred to him as her husband.  A few weeks later, I stayed up late for the moving process.  A lot of prayers were said on my compound, we crammed onto a gelly and went to his compound, and a lot more prayers were said and then we ate.  This time, there was some dancing... and my host moms can rock it!  However, it was less of an ordeal because it was her second wedding, and I think she is his second wife (yes as in co-wives).  I also later learned that Mariama, a young girl that lives on my compound is her daughter from the first marriage, but she still lives with us in Wurokang.  To sum it up, Family is the center of Gambian life, but keeping track of the family tree is quite complicated.

Tobaski:  I also recently celebrated a Muslim holiday, Tobaski, which celebrates Abraham's sacrifice of Ishmael. Thus, rams are slaughtered across the country and people PIG OUT.  I have lots of good pictures that are to come, with better explanations.  I enjoyed eating a lot of meat, experiencing a muslim prayer complete with covered head, and Gambian family time.


The phrase may be slowly, slowly but the past two months at site have gone quickly and I can't believe it has already been five (lulu) months in The Gambia.  At the same time, it seems that things move slowly; but, as always, such is life sometimes.  At my schools, I have gotten into the swing of things at work. I spend my time doing teacher observations and have started to co-teach and model lessons for teachers.  I have also learned to go with the flow and not count on the plan. Take Kwinella Lower Basic, where, at the beginning I thought I would be doing a lot of work in the Library teaching classes with the help of the Gambian teachers.  I spent a lot of time the first few weeks reorganizing the library so that the books were properly leveled.  I also wanted to get random sets of old American/British math textbooks off of the shelves and the children's books that were still in boxes onto the shelves so I spent a lot of time doing that.  In true Gambian fashion, the Librarian came back from a training and wanted the Math books back on the shelf.  I let him takeover, as he is employed by a different organization that supports development, and I didn't want to start off on the wrong foot.

My new goal is to work with the teachers that seek out my help. The 5th grade teacher is one example, he knows that reading is a problem and so I am going to focus on helping him with reading instruction.  I wish I were an expert, because it is going to be a challenge.  First step is attitude, and I make the students repeat the mantra "We are going to be the best readers".