Summatime

One of the violent storms that come with the beginning of the rainy season here has forced me inside my hut for the afternoon, so I thought I should take the opportunity to write. Summer vacation is well underway and I have been enjoying the free time to do other projects. I finished up May in Dabola (the bigger regional city near my village) with my 10th graders, where they were taking their high school entrance exam, the Brevet. They were all staying in a big house together for the week-long test. It was like Real World Guinea, seeing them all in this house together. It was really fun to spend time with them outside of the structured-ness of school. When I got to their house, they were all lounging in the living room watching a British t.v. show about birds, dubbed in French. So we sat and watched for a little bit, most of them asking me confused questions- “Madame, do people in America really spend the whole day looking at birds like this?”. I think they were really enjoying this “vacation” away from normal life and getting to hang out with their classmates. We started reviewing chemistry problems in the living room where they had set up a big chalkboard, but I could tell some of the students were more focused on the social aspect of the gathering- I swear some of the girls had hourly outfit changes. But, some of us studied for about 4 hours, and I finished with a little pep talk about just trying to relax and use some logic on the exam the next day.
My mosquito net photo project finished up nicely and now Shadassa is helping me put together an awareness video with the photos, focused on the importance of net use. I am hoping we can use the video to motivate new volunteers to do malaria work in their villages and also make a French version to show Guineans.
In Banko, I have been working on renovating our existing library at my school. Calling this room a “library” is a little bit of stretch, I would be more inclined to call it a “bat cave where books are stored”. The first day I cracked open the door to the little room, I found a few inches of dust and bat feces covering the floor and even a few bats there to welcome me! After a few days of passionate cleaning, I invited some students to come help me go through the books, of which there was a surprisingly large amount. We decided which books were usable and which were too tattered to keep, and arranged the good books on the shelves by subject. All of these books are textbooks- biology, physical sciences, French, math, and a couple history- and I am hoping to get some French novels in there down the road. Each day I arrive at the library, I call over to the resident gang of children that can always be found within 10 feet of anywhere that I find myself in Guinea, to remove the bats from the room. The other day was a literal bat massacre, and these kids deserve a reward for bravery, because God knows I would never have the nerve to get the bats out myself. My hope is that next school year, this library can be functional and students will be able to make use of these books that have been locked up gathering dust for so many years. Maybe some students will even start reading for pleasure!
I was chosen to go to Senegal this month for Malaria Boot Camp for 10 days. We will spend the boot camp learning everything there is to know about malaria and swapping ideas with other volunteers- one volunteer will come from each African Peace Corps country. I am excited for the change of pace and the chance to share my work and hear about other malaria work going on in Africa.
I am soon approaching my one-year point here in Guinea, and it is equally as hard to believe that it has been so long as it is to believe that so much is still left. Overall, I have really enjoyed my time here so far, and I know that the experiences I have had are such that I could only get them by doing what I am doing. I miss home all the time and I am seriously lucky that when my work here is finished, I get to go back to such an amazing family, group of friends, and country.

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4 thoughts on “Summatime

  1. Oh my Dear Tessie! Or as I will now be calling you from now on…Bat Girl!!! UGH on the Bat thing BTW! I am so proud of you and what you are accomplishing in Guinea! I know that you have never been so HOT, DIRTY, even lonely….but I know that what you are doing is appreciated….and as you always remind me, you are learning as much from the Guinean’s as you are teaching! Your “adventure” is almost 1/2 over, and the amazing memories are many! Je t’aime tres my sweet Tess! Just keep doin what you are doin! Love Mom

  2. A Year! How did that happen?!?!?
    Tess, keep it up, it will be over before you know it, and although the luxury of a ht bath back in USA and will seem like it is worth a million bucks, and it will be so great to see everyone… you will most likely miss the “action”. Take care, and have a great last half. Love, Lisa

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