Peace Corps Blog

This is a blog of my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, working in South Africa. My job title is a capacity builder, which means I help increase the effectiveness of a local NGO that does AIDS/HIV related work.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Latest Endeavour

Upon returning from my trip back to the United States, I began a secondary project within my community. Although I have enjoyed my time with my primary organization (Fanang Diatla, the care-giving organization I was originally placed with), there were many times where there was little work for me and I felt isolated from the rest of the community, as I only worked with a small number of people. So I decided to make the 25 minute walk over to a nearby high school, where I spoke with the deputy principal and offered my assistance with tutoring and career guidance. This was inspired by the number of 11th and 12th grade students that previously approached me asking for those exact things. But the school had other things in mind, and the deputy principal asked me if I could assist with teaching mathematics and computers (the school is still severely understaffed and does not have any qualified computer teacher).

Coming in the first week, I found that although the school had 12 new computers, they were useless (Windows was not activated, so you could not even turn the computers on). On my first day, I was able to fix the computers (it simply involved calling Microsoft to activate each computer), which was a welcomed changeā€¦ now students could learn through practical work, instead of theoretical lectures.

Since then, I have also helped teach the 12th grade math class, where we spent a lot of time reviewing basic concepts (such as how to graph a line, and what the word arc means). In addition, I have helped with other math classes (one with over fifty learners in it) and have taught a number of computer classes. But now that the second term has begun, I have started to back away from doing too much teaching. As the end of my service is fast approaching, I realize that it makes more sense to work with interested teachers and help give them the computer knowledge or math knowledge they need to teach the classes. So now I have partnered with a few of the teachers, to help give them the computer and math knowledge needed. As I am not an ideal teacher (little teaching experience, and my language skills are not advanced enough to explain either computers or mathematics in Sepedi), this seems like a good situation; the teachers, who already have teaching skills, can then learn certain concepts from me and better pass it on to the learners.

Working with the school has provided some variety in my work, and a great opportunity to work and talk with more members of the community. Although there are some disappointments at the school, I am glad for the new addition to my Peace Corps experience and am glad to have something that will keep me engaged during the remaining months of my service here.



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