Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Camp Begins

It's only Tuesday June 28th, the end of day 2 of camp, and I'm exhausted. It could be the heat but also the energy level of twenty 10 - 13 year olds. Two other PCVs, Alicia from a nearby village and Melissa from Salyan, are also staying with Sally and we've made plans for 5 days of activities this week, i.e. camp from 9AM to 1PM at Sally's school.

Day 1 had an Arts and Crafts theme and Sally had lots of ideas and materials planned from making name tags to origami to "god's eye"s to optical illusions. We headed back to Sally's apartment to debrief plus pull together more plans for Day 2  - Health theme.

Today, we began with a Jeopardy-like quiz on health - food, exercise, sports, body parts, interspersed with games and songs - Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Melissa was a real trouper speaking Azeri instruction and questions since the camp was not English language, but open for all. They drew food on sheets of paper according to the new USDA Choose My Plate graphic, and also made paper cups for the trail mix we made for them. The morning ended with a slide presentation on dental health.

The 4 of us promised each other we would take naps this afternoon since it is tiring work. Alas, someone was selling fresh strawberries in the yard in the afternoon, so Sally bought enough to make strawberry jam. Thanks to her, we've also been eating quite well: hummus, gazpacho, cold lentil salad, baba ganoush, barley salad and a wonderful batch of BC turtle brownies.

Day 3 has the environment as the theme so we will be taking a nature walk, doing leaf rubbings, painting rocks, doing a food web, and picking up trash - with little games in-between.

I've got my fingers crossed that I will move on Saturday to my own independent housing and probably spend the 4th of July there. It's just another day in Masalli, Azerbaijan.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Beginning of Summer

It's Wednesday evening June 8th about 7pm as I write this, and storm clouds are threatening. The power has been out most of today because many utility poles are being replaced in the neighborhood. Between that, gas lines and road work, there is a lot of infrastructure work being undertaken this year throughout Azerbaijan.

This morning I had 9 eager students for their first English conversation club. Since this club is for beginners (10 and 11 year olds), I focused on speaking simple introductions and vocabulary. I started with English phrases comparable to Azerbaijani and let everyone introduce themselves with few words about their family. The classroom is large enough for both desk work plus a circle of chairs where they move to practice speaking with each other. 
This is a photo taken earlier this year of my darling 5th form class.

I also planned a conversation club for older students, but only 2 students attended today - and they don't even attend Digah school. They are related to 2 teachers in my school so they came to practice their English. Several other students will join up on Friday. This is challenging since they have good vocabulary, but need practice putting sentences together, using correct tenses, and talking about ideas as well as everyday events. It is totally enjoyable to sit with students who want to learn.

I hope to teach a writing class this Summer too, but I wasn't at school the last week to announce it. My English teachers are great resources for contacting students at home to come for activities when school is out.

In between time, I prepare activities and materials for these clubs to insure the students are engaged and challenged. Remember there is only one copy machine at a nearby stationers, and each copy costs 10 qepick (about 15 cents.) I just can't afford to provide handouts to every child, so creativity rules the day. I've made a bingo-like game with fruits and vegetables artwork, and have drawn pictures of verbs on index cards for another game. I get many ideas for activities from other PCVs who talk about their successes. Best of all, I am teaching these inter-active methods to my English teachers so they can use them for years to come.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Getting Ready for Summer

I know I am feeling much better when I can laugh at buying a KitKat to speed my recovery from pneumonia. Do you know how hard it is to txt that word? I've been texting that "p" word to my PCV friends after it was confirmed by PC doc and a chest x-ray.

I don't ever recall feeling so tired and exhausted. That was last week, and after a round of antibiotics and gatorade, I'm much better. I am really working at increasing my daily calorie consumption too, and that's how I justify that KitKat. 
I've changed my breakfast routine to include a bowl of Nestle/Gen Mills Fitness cereal with 3.4% milk. The nearby tandoor place not only makes fresh bread each morning but also roasts chicken, so one can tide me over for several days of protein. During the day I've also been snacking on some ritz-type crackers. I went to the bazar Friday to get some fresh fruit, greens, and the fixins for some trail mix. Nuts and dried fruit are plentiful here but also expensive. Strawberries have been in season for several weeks and eggplants are showing up in the markets too.

Here's a view looking East from Sally's balcony. In the midst of illness, I moved my things from my host family's to site mate Sally's apartment. She is vacationing out of the country until next week, so I've been happy to do things on my own again. It sounds so simple to say I did laundry, so someday I will go thru the steps to get water, heat the water, rinse clothes, and hang on a line so that no one knows you have underwear.

With the end of school, I don't feel guilty about hanging around at home, reading, watching movies, or catching up on the news via the internet.