Today was my final language evaluation. We are required to meet a certain level on our final test, or we are not allowed to swear-in on Friday as Peace Corps volunteers. I did really good in my last two tests, but I'm a bit nervous about today. If I didn't do well enought, it means I miss the swearing-in ceremony (and all of the festivities that go along with it), and then I stay in Kombo an extra two weeks with extra language training before going to my site. Everyone says I have nothing to worry about, so I shouldn't let it bother me. But it's hard not to. After all of this work, I'm just ready to get training over with and begin my job. So today has been a bit stressful. Hopefully I will find out tomorrow.
A few people have emailed me asking for my mailing address. So here it is:
c/o Peace Corps
PO Box 582
Banjul, The Gambia
The Peace Corps has recommended that anything you send be sent through air mail, and "air mail" should be written on the outside of the letter/package. It is more expensive, but despite what the post office tells you, anything else could take over 4 months to get here (the post office will say 4-6 weeks). If you are sending packages, the bubble envelopes are cheeper to send... and, when asked to name the contents of the package, just say "school supplies." Once I get back to site (which, assuming I passed this test, will be in one week), I will be getting my mail once a month when the Peace Corps driver goes on mail run. So it's kind of luck of the draw. If your letter/package arrives to Banjul right after mail-run, it has to wait for the next month.
As far as care package ideas, trail-mixes and cliff bars will always be welcome. And even though I haven't begun my job yet, I do know that one thing I'd like to do with the teachers in my community at some point is work on creating teaching aids for lessons. Because of lack of resources and time, most teachers do not have visual aids for lessons or any kind of hands-on activity to do with students. Classes consist almost entirely of lectures with a chalkboard. The students take notes, memorize the material, then take a test. Once I get to know some of the teachers, I'd like to encourage them to make some learning aids for their classrooms that they can keep for themselves. At one of our training sessions in Tendaba, I drew the periodic table on a rice bag with sharpies. It took a long time, but now I have a fairly permanent learning aid to use, and I can leave it here when I go for other teachers to use. I came up with the idea from model school, after learning that the 9th grade students in The Gambia are required to memorize the first 20 elements in the Periodic table, but only their atomic number and symbol. And their textbook does not give a diagram of the periodic table at all. I finally found one in a chemistry textbook, but many schools cannot offer chemistry as a class on it's own, which is why I'll be teaching General Science. So, getting to my point here... Anything you can think of that might help me create learning aids... sharpie markers of all sizes and colors, duct tape, scissors, old magazines, spare materials, etc. I'd welcome some pre-made educational posters too... but part of my goal is to help them learn how to make these things on their own... so I'd like to try to use local resources as much as possible (like the rice bags...they are awesome for posters!) If I just give away posters, then what happens when they get ripped and torn to peices?... they can't just get another one somewhere. But if the posters are simple enough, we might be able to use them to replicate copies.
So that's it for now. Hopefully, the next time I write, I will be bearing good news of langauge test triumph (I hope). Thanks again everyone for all of your support!