"Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed—doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps—who works in a foreign land—will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace."

-President John F. Kennedy

Monday, October 21, 2013


I think it’s safe to say I’ve reached cruising altitude…finally. For the first time since being here, the weeks seem to fly by and I am able to think it terms of months rather than day by day. Since I’ve reached this comfortable cruising point, I figure I will do another “day in the life” segment. Maybe parts (or all) of it you don’t care about, but I am also writing this so I can remember myself. So here goes…

5:30 am: Alarm goes off. For the first time in my life, I’m committing to not being a “snooze button person.” I read an article recently where it said studies showed that hitting snooze and getting those precious 10, 20, or 30 minutes actually makes one more drowsy and sleepy upon waking up. I’ve found this to be true so far, the first few seconds of waking up are harder, but after that you will feel better, I promise! Anyway, I’m awake.  It’s barely light out, but by 6 it’s fine. I have a solid two hours to do a few things before I walk over to school. I do a mini workout of jump rope, pushups, situps, and planks. I maybe - but not often - fetch water. I of course utilize the ingenious wooden seat in my latrine (TMI I know). Breakfast is usually bread with egg, or banana, or oats. I maybe review or write my lesson. I’ll catch up on some current events via twitter on my phone (gotta stay connected in some way, right?). And sometimes I read some of my current book. It is safe to say that I do more before 8am here than I did in a full day at college. If you don’t already embrace mornings, I highly encourage it. Give yourself time to relax and prepare for the day. Get your head on straight instead of rushing around everywhere. If only I could’ve told myself that advice before in my life.

7:50am: I take the one minute walk over to school and usually the kids are assembling and saying morning prayers and singing. Sometimes a teacher is there, sometimes nobody.

8am: Enter my first class. Four days of the week I have three straight 70-minute math classes in the morning beginning at 8. When I wrap up my final lesson, I walk home for a quick lunch.

Noonish: Take a short 15 minute lunch break which is usually groundnut paste and jelly (GP&J), tuna salad sandwich, or just bread. I go back over to school and sit at the table under a tree with the teachers. Usually I have homework or exercises I gave them to grade. This means they bring their notebooks to me (so 45 notebooks at a time) and I mark. As a brief aside, they don’t have textbooks, so when I assign homework that means I write the questions on the board and they copy into their notebooks and complete. There is no spare paper, handouts, or anything like that. They do the problems in their notebook and I grade it there. This also means that the only material that they ever will learn is what I write on the board and make sure they copy into their notes. There is no book or anything for them to learn from. They can’t follow along, see what is ahead, or gain more review from past material, except for what is in the notes. But, as you all know, it is usually advantageous to look at other material to learn rather than the material you’ve already written down. If you didn’t understand what you wrote down, then there is no way to help yourself really. This is why I have to make sure I do a lot of in-class exercises to help them along. I can’t expect them to figure out much on their own.

2pm: School closes. I walk home and am usually roasting hot and worn out. I’ll lay in bed under my fan – if the electricity is on – and relax for a half hour. I will then write my next lesson plan, maybe fetch water, do dishes, run a quick errand, or read.

5pm: On two days of the week I have an extra math class at 5pm for the “advanced” form 3 students. It’s good because I get to know some of the other students in form 3 since I only teach form 1, and they pick up quicker. This class is for an hour and has been fun so far. If I don’t have class, I usually go for a short jog around this time because the sun is almost down and it has cooled down….to 90 degrees. I take an afternoon bucket bath to cool down.

6pm: I  cook up a third-world-good dinner for myself and am spent by 7.

7pm: I will read, browse some internet, type in here, or watch a show until 8 or 9.

8 or 9pm: In bed and zonked.

One month from now I have my Reconnect In-Service Training where my training group meets up down South and has more seminars to learn more. It’s right before Thanksgiving, and I’m looking forward to it. This will be my daily schedule as a cruise until then. After that things will be changing because it will be holiday, exam time, and I’ll have free time and hopefully be in pursuit of some projects. For now, I’m still trying to figure out how to get math through to these kids!

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