Year 2


My brother has become quite adamant about me updating my blog. So adamant, in fact, that he has started dangling the possibility of American food in front of me as a reward. The result? A lot of blog updates in a very short period of time (along with quite a bit of salivating on my part). This particular update is about the new school year, and my schedule changes, and last-minute lesson planning. Exciting!


The school year “started” on January 9th, but that doesn’t mean very much here in Rwanda. Saying that a school year is “starting” is like saying “you need to start showing up for class, but there is absolutely no guarantee that you will actually have students or that you will actually teach”. With that in mind, I had planned a whole lot of nothing for my first few weeks. I only had half of my students, because the government was still grading the final exams for one of my levels (those exams were graded last week—a month after the term “started”), and so I was sort-of teaching a grand total of six hours a week in January. I went in, had them ask questions about America and the Illuminati and Lady Gaga, and then I went home.

Now that I have all my students, things still aren’t all that organized. My schedule has changed three times, and I expect it to change again once my headmistress hires the last English teacher. My school spent a whole week dividing the newest students into classes, and school clubs still haven’t been set up yet even though we only have a month and a half left of this term.

I vaguely remember something similar happening last year—chaos, frustration, confusion—but this year there is a very important element that has changed: me. This year, I wasn’t upset when my schedule was changed without anyone telling me. I wasn’t upset when my students told me they’d been ordered to ‘cultivate the land’ during my teaching hours, and I wasn’t upset that I was the only English teacher for an entire month.

This year, I can relax. This year, I am Rwandan.

I go to school with no expectations each morning, and I do what people tell me to do (except when I don’t want to do something—in those frequent cases I’ve learned to repeat what I want over and over again until the person I’m talking to gives in…it’s similar to the ‘are not, are too’ game that kids often play). I stay at school during my breaks instead of running home to watch another episode of 30 Rock, and I have strange conversations with my coworkers about strange things, like buying cows in America and what it means to ‘rock the house’.

We’re trying, buhoro buhoro (slow by slow) to start clubs back up again at my school, and I’m hoping to teach both Journalism and Guitar on Sundays…but first we need guitars. And students who are interested in Journalism. My tentative plan so far is to lure my kids into media writing with a really great song or video clip and trap them into the club that way. So my goal for the next few days is to discover a really great song or video clip about Journalism—suggestions are welcome.

Next weekend I have my second judges class, which I hope to use as a way to motivate me into finally start studying for the GRE. We’ll see!

That’s about it for this update—I hope it earns me some Starburst. Or at the very least, a picture of some Starburst.


One response »

  1. Great posts, Ella! You might try the opening speech by Jeff Daniels from Newsroom “America is not the greatest Country anymore”. While harsh, it does open up questions about truth in media and the responsibility of journalists to speak the truth or just to tell people what the enjoy hearing.

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