This week I was invited to attend the Welooti music festival in Bababe. The festival was organized by the town's youth association and featured performances of many of their favorite hip hop groups, including the hometown heroes, Minen Tey. The festival included many activities but unfortunately I only got to see the events of one day.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I am back in Nouakchott! I didn’t know if I would have the chance to spend a third year in Mauritania and I am feeling exceptionally grateful for this opportunity. I had a serious case of jetlag the first few days that I was back. Of course the intense heat did not help matters- it was easier to sleep all day and stay awake during the cool hours of the night.
I finally feel present and ready to get back to work. My students from the past two years have been calling me. They have been sent to teach in all corners of the country. They each have funny stories to tell. One young teacher didn’t have a place to stay and so he was taken in by the village chief, where he has been very well taken care of. A different teacher was sent to his home village in the far east of the country but only given eight hours of English classes to teach. He has been assigned to teach another subject but he doesn’t even have a book to follow for it. How can someone teach a class that has never taken and received no training for?
A different teacher has been sent to a village very far from anywhere where there is very little water. He refused to go to his assignment but he may not have another choice. I guess time will tell how the issue will be resolved. The female students have all been sent to large towns. It is good to be a female teacher in Mauritania, except for one of the students who was sent far away and given twelve hours of French classes to teach. She won’t get to teach English (the only subject she was trained to teach) at all! I hope that she can change this situation soon.
The young teachers are assigned to cities randomly. Some have been exceptionally happy with their placements while others are frustrated. Many of the first year teachers get sent to the most remote places, where none of the other teachers in Mauritania want to go. Most do not have access to email and some are even out of reach of the phone network. Each time I speak to these new teachers I become filled with a sense of pride. I am so happy that they are now my colleagues and have now started working on the enormous task of educating Mauritania’s future generations. I believe in the potential of each one of these new teachers. I feel very fortunate to have had a role in their training and I hope that it made a difference.
“Everything has changed… except the way we think. The aim [of education] must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals, who, however, see in the service of the community their highest life problem.”
Saturday, October 1, 2011
When I visited Portland, OR this summer I was presented with a special gift from my host and best friend since the 7th grade, Amy Lindahl. While she was cleaning her new classroom at her new school she found a box of stamps on one of the shelves. When she took the stamps home for a closer inspection, she discovered that she was the new proud owner of a spectacular collection. Although the stamps are so cool they are not worth really anything, dollar wise. Amy let me dig through the stamps and take my favorites.
Here are some of the ones I picked: