Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Wednesday 26th September – ups and downs

I woke today after a very bad night’s sleep.  One of the drawbacks for a westerner living in Sudanese teacher accommodation is the constant invasion of privacy.  In the UK we take for granted the fact that, even in a shared flat, once you close your bedroom door you have some time to yourself.  This is not the case here.  Everyone feels free to wander in, teacher or student.  Last night was a particularly bad incidence: long after I had fallen asleep, the gate to the school area (directly behind my bed) opened and troops of girls came through on their way to their neighbouring courtyard, some shaking me awake to say ‘Hello’.  There is a genuine lack of understanding of a culture which is not ‘all one big family’.  I am hoping that SVP can help me find a suitable place to live off site, but realise that they will also battle against local attitudes to do this.  If a woman on her own in the market is unheard of, imagine a woman living alone.  If the second volunteer materialises in November, perhaps we will be in a better position as two women together.

Once I had gone into school, things looked up.  I was invited to lunch in a different subject office.  Up till now I have eaten with the English Department (pictured) and apparently all the other departments want a chance.  We had deep fried fish and ful (bean stew).  Afterwards they were very insistent that I stay and help them speak English, which I did. 
By request I was asked to do the ‘Old woman who swallowed a fly’ lesson for a class later in the day, so it clearly wasn’t the flop that I felt it had been.  As I get more practice I am definitely getting better at teaching, which is very reassuring.  Yesterday I gave a lesson using two teams to do a vocabulary test, which went well too.  I am greatly helped by the fact that my students, no matter how little they can say, are bursting with smiles and general enthusiasm.  It is very infectious and brings out the best in me in class so that I am able to give some very lively lessons.

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