School’s Out for Summer (Almost)

It is St. Patrick’s Day! Normally, I would be looking forward to a long day of celebrating my Irish heritage with many a Guinness. Unfortunately, in Banko, I will have to settle for wearing a green shirt to school.  I guess I will just have to observe the holiday extra well in March 2015 – man, there will be a lot of pent up celebrating to do!

Shadassa came to visit this past weekend.  He made the 7 hour trip in a taxi to Cissela, where he grabbed his bike from a man named Salami who runs a hotel there and so graciously keeps his bike for him.  I met him along the dirt road into my village on my bike, and we were very lucky that the hot sun was hiding behind a large cloud the whole way to Banko.  That cloud, it turned out, contained the first rain of the rainy season! It will be a month or so until the rainy season actually comes into full swing, but a light outlying sprinkle was incredibly welcome.   He got to meet all the neighborhood children, some of my students, and my partner in malaria fighting-crime, Madame Hadja. 

                As the school year is nearing its close, I am gearing up for what four months without school will mean for my service here.  Being a teacher has given my service a rigid schedule and equally as stable purpose thus far.  With time off from school, I will have a lot of freedom to pursue projects that have been kept at a low simmer on the back burner.  As exciting at this new freedom sounds, it is also a little daunting to conceptualize.  One place where Guinean and American cultures collide is in how we approach work—in all aspects, from professionalism to planning.  Equipped with my deeply engrained world-view, there are blatant “project ideas” popping up all over my village.  Yet, I am realizing that what seems obvious to me as a needed improvement, may not occur to a Guinean, and vice versa.  So the trick is to find a project that my Guinean counterparts are motivated to work on that I also have faith in.  Once that unicorn of an idea is discovered, the aforementioned professional differences come in to play.  So, that will be the work that fills in the months away from school.  In addition, I will be helping train the new group of chemistry teachers arriving in July and doing some travelling.  Also, as always, I will be continuing my work on Malaria prevention in conjunction with the country-wide mosquito net distribution.  I see the impact of malaria when my students are absent from school, when I visit a neighbor who has just lost her young child, and when I see an infant seizing in the arms of the doctor at our health center.  Everyone in Guinea, nationals or foreigners, can agree that this disease is a very serious problem and I want to spend as much of my time in country as possible working to decrease its devastation. 

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