Embracing the wise words of Pooh has been my goal this week. I have found it to be increasingly difficult to live in the present because my mind is camped out in the future. I am so excited to be home that I find my patience with daily annoyances has diminished severely and I know I am not enjoying every day as much as I should be. The other day I was waiting in a taxi and some man was trying to talk to me but I was day dreaming and didn’t hear him. When he finally got my attention he made a comment in Kinyarwanda about how my body was in the same car as him but my mind was very far away. It was at that point that I knew I needed to evaluate things. A random man on public transport, clutching a live chicken in one hand and a beer with a straw in the other, was able to tell I wasn’t living in the present- doesn’t really say great things about my attitude.
So my new goal has been just to live in the present and enjoy each day. Of course this sounds easier than it actually is. I have experienced wonderful moments of gratitude this week inspired by my resolution but I have also lapsed into prolonged bouts of grumpiness. School has been chaotic. I have been experiencing drama with my heamistress and it is frustrating because when she gets mad at me for little things I want to scream at her, “I am a volunteer!!!” It is common practice for teachers to borrow hours from each other. So last Thursday a math teacher took one of my hours with Senior 1C because she needed to finish explaining notes. I didn’t really want to give her the hour because I had things to do with the kids but I know math is a hard course for them so I gave her my hour. I knew that the ICT teacher had finished his course for the term so I asked for 10 minutes of his first hour with Senior 1C the next day to finish up with my kids. He of course agreed and proceeded to play billiards on the new computer in the teacher’r room. While I was with the kids my headmistress came and lectured me about my bad behavior and how it is an obligation to have her permission to switch hours. It really would not have cared except for the fact that she gave me this whole speech in front of my students. I doubt they could understand all the words but they could certainly understand that I was in trouble. Not a very professional way to resolve conflict in my opinion. Apparently the ICT teacher did not respond so well to his lecture and yelled at the headmistress and she had no response to his rant. Other teachers have recommended I adopt a more forceful approach to dealing with her but I just can’t bring myself to talk back to an authority figure and I think it would do way more harm in the long run.
Several volunteers have noted that it is often more difficult to interact with women in power as opposed to men. I think it is because they feel the constant need to assert themselves as an authority figure since their gender is a disadvantage when it comes to gaining power and respect in this country. I sympathize with their plight but it would be nice if they could find a path to obtaining the respect they desire by treating others with respect. Of course this is not applicable to all women leaders in Rwanda, just the small sample I know about through other volunteers.
Another annoying school thing this week was my exam. It was 2 pages, front and back, but the school decided it would be too expensive to print. I know some volunteers who write 7 page exams each term- just saying- 4 pages won’t kill them. Well they wanted to go into my exam and modify it but I had converted it to a PDF so they couldn’t. So the school secretary retyped the exam, which is fine, but she messed it all up. The biggest error was a 10-point section (1/5 of the exam’s points) that asked the students to identify the part of speech for the underlined word in each sentence. She retyped all ten sentences and didn’t underline a single word! Luckily I was at school the day of the exam so when the students discovered the error they sent someone to find me in the teacher’s room. They were already about an hour into the exam so I had to work fast to choose which words to underline. I was so flustered I ended up choosing four adverbs when my original exam only had one. The other English teacher, who is amazing, went with me from class to class to explain to the students which words to underline. I was so embarrassed. I doubt the kids judged me too harshly but it is frustrating to work really hard on preparing something only to have someone tamper with it, without your permission, and then replicate it full of errors. I later called my mom to vent and tell her the story and her response was, “Why didn’t they just call you?” Good question. I live five minutes from the school and could have easily come and changed it myself and saved them the trouble of trying to hack into my PDF and then retype the document.
Throughout the drama and frustration I have been enjoying my time here and there have been some really amazing moments. Last night I spent the night at the other English teacher’s house. I saw Louis on the road at about 3pm and he said that he would be home later but that his house is my house so I should just go on up. So I climbed up the hill and arrived just before a massive thunder storm- perfect timing. I spent the afternoon playing with Remy and marking quizzes. In the evening Louis and his wife Diane came home and we sat together marking exams and watching Diane’s favorite French soap opera. At one point the lights went out and Diane was holding the flashlight to help Louis so he could continue to mark. Remy was offering his assistance as he battled Diane for control of the massive flashlight and attempted to blind us all once he gained control through a sneaky hair-pulling attack disguised as a kiss on the cheek. 10 minutes later the lights came on and Remy starting laughing and clapping, exhibiting such joy that the light had finally returned to the room that we all had to laugh with him. It was so incredibly adorable. Later that night he managed to pee on me twice in a twenty minute period of time which was less adorable but he is still my #1 guy. 🙂
So life goes on and I am doing my very best to not be grumpy all the time and to keep my mind in the present lest I be subjected to another lecture from the chicken and beer man!
Here are some cute photos of Mr. Remy from last night: