Another couple of days

17 08 2008

Friday morning and it was the only time I seriously contemplated using my bucket! To explain; one of the things LINK provides you with in your house is a bucket to use instead of going out to t6 the toilet at night. When I arrived at my house I noticed mine was not in my room and so had to ask for it which was quite embarrassing. I am not sure what my host mother thought it was for but it was in her room. Now thankfully I do not usually have to make use of the toilet during the night and I really hoped I would not have to here either but of course I wanted it just in case and there might have been more of a problem seeing as I was in my room from so early on in the evening.

As I had not had to use the bucket I had started filling it up with my empty water bottles and all of the Scottish food that I had brought with me to have a tea party with on the last afternoon. This morning though, at 4.30am, I woke up desperate but it’s amazing what I will put up with to save embarrassment. (I did go 26 hours without using a toilet on a train journey in Vietnam so I have been used to it!)

I really did not want to have to use the bucket as the wall between my room and the rest of the house did not actually go all of the way to the ceiling and you can imagine the noise with a plastic bucket! Nor I did want the noise of emptying everything out of the bucket too. I contemplated trying to use a water bottle but it is probably just as well I did not try. So I suffered on, sure that my host mother would be up early as usual and I could go out to the toilet then. (As she was sleeping in the living area I could not go out to the toilet as I would have had to go out past her.) Of course she slept in and it was 5.45am before I could get out. Thank goodness I was not given tea again in the evening!

At school that day I started doing mental/active maths activities with the different classes. I got St1 and 2 together first, as still no teacher in St2, and then St6 and 7 together. I was quite self-conscious with the older ones at first as it felt like having secondary school kids but in the end they were the ones I spent the most time with and had a brilliant time with them. I did very simple things like rhythm clapping, pendulum swing and using counting sticks to start off with. It took me nearly a week to realise why the pupils could not join me in doing the times tables questions as I was doing my tables the opposite way round from them!

infants using number fans made by my class in Scotland

infants using number fans made by my class in Scotland

I then also did things like Buzz, Around the World, Slam, countdown, getting questions from an answer and using a ball to answer questions as well as others. The staff and pupils loved them once they got the hang of them particularly slam, countdown with the older ones and rhythm clapping. The deputy was really pleased with the countdown once he could see how good it would be for discussion and questioning as well. I tried to do a mixture of mental activities where the teacher would be involved and some activities we would use for early finishers so that if the teacher did have to (or want to!) leave the classroom they could easily leave the children something to do that was worthwhile.

seniors using number fans

seniors using number fans

I then took St1 and 2 with the St1 teacher for pe – I think we got about 2 games done as it was just bedlam because the children were so excited and wanted to be the ones picked for everything.

I then helped the St3 teacher with maths for St3 and 4 and I found this really hard as her English was so poor. I felt very sorry for the children as they would be waiting ages for each activity while I tried to explain then she explained it to them, then I would realise she did not have a clue what I was talking about and we would start all over again. I had to keep telling myself it was better than nothing for them.

Standard 3

Standard 3

After second break we all went outside and the older ones performed some dances for me. The girls were quite shy and did not put a lot into it but the boys were great and really into it. I found the things the boys were into strange, good strange though, compared to our boys as they loved the dancing and were also really into going to church and being in the choir which they practiced for nearly every evening. Of course they were very into football too!

Boys drumming for the dancing

Boys drumming for the dancing

One of my favourite photos

One of my favourite photos

As a reward for all of the pupils who had come on time every day that week I got the parachute out and they all got to have a go with it – that shows how few pupils came exactly on time as they all had a space on the parachute! They absolutely loved it but did not have it out for too long as of course it soon descended into chaos with all of the other pupils trying to join in too.

using the parachute for the first time

using the parachute for the first time

After school today I did some re-arranging of the classes with the HT. We wanted to make sure there were the correct number of desks in the classrooms, particularly for the St6 and 7 classes joining together and that all of the desks in all of the rooms were in groups. The classes that had started the new curriculum were (St1, 5 and 6) but the others were not. My school was actually quite lucky in that all of the classes apart from St1 had desks. The bonus about joining St6 and 7 together was also that St2, if they had a teacher, would now have a classroom as they been being taught outside or in the church until now. This took ages and I think everyone that saw me doing it was really surprised at a teacher and a female at that was shifting furniture about.

After lunch the teenage boy in my family and Patrick, the boy who had already helped me a lot, walked me up the hill to use my phone as I was still not allowed to walk anywhere by myself. Conversation was difficult as their English was limited. I had silly sandals on and ended up walking barefoot. It was really hard work and I don’t know how they went running with me like that!

They were funny while I text people though, they had a head on each of my shoulders watching what I was doing. I asked them to take me to the shop when we got back and bought them each a bottle of Fanta.

Jaylois and Patrick

Jaylois and Patrick

Had the bubbles out and then went for a longer (4 mile!!!) run with Lameck. We ran up to another village and I really got stared at this time as it was all people who had never seen me running before! It was two miles uphill to start off with and I was knackered at the end – my host mother could not stop laughing at me when I came back and huffing and puffing while doubled over.

More ‘Malawi time’ on Saturday morning. My school’s netball and football teams were playing at another school this morning, although not that schools teams, another school were meeting us there. I had asked and asked what time we would be leaving as I was meeting two other global teachers there as one of them was at the school we were going to and I had wanted to tell them what time we would be there. I was told 7am and so I was ready for then but did not leave, with Mr Kaunda and some of the kids, until 8.30am. It took about an hour to get there and Kim and Robert were there by 10am. The kids turned up in dribs and drabs, there were a lot of kids not on the teams who turned up to watch – there were more school uniforms at the football than there had been during the week at school!

hanging around!

hanging around!

Again with Malawi time the kids sat about for hours and the netball did not actually start until 12 o’clock. I ended up refereeing the netball but that is a very loose description of it as there were no rules to referee really which I was warned about. I think I only blew the whistle to re-start the game after a goal, which there was quite a lot of as my school won 12-0 which was getting a bit embarrassing. The boys were totally cheering me when it finished as if I had won it for them which was even more embarrassing!

another favourite photo

another favourite photo

Now the boys were now supposed to start their football match but only then went up to the school to have a lengthly team talk and then came down to start which was the point at which they had to then find wood to use as a crossbar for the top of one of the goals – you would have thought this could have been dealt with earlier! 1-1 at full time so it went to extra time and then we had to explain how to do penalties which I was obviously very pleased that we won! Seemingly these games are part of a nationwide tournament to find the best school in the country at football and netball so there was a lot of excitement both during and after the football.

school football team (deputy head teacher is on the left in the cap)

school football team (deputy head teacher is on the left in the cap)

We had the privilege of being invited to Kim’s host family for lunch which was lovely. Kim’s host father spoke English very well and the mum a bit so that was quite refreshing. I got back to my village about 4pm and went to the school to do some work but mostly it involved showing the football boys as they drifted in the photos of them playing football. They were really chuffed with this and through translation I discovered they were really thrilled that I had come to watch and actually shown an interest in the game and taken photos of them.

the tearoom in the village (taken on the way home from the football)

the tearoom in the village (taken on the way home from the football)

I spent some time out on the pitches after this as it began to get dark and some kids made a fire. I had seen this happen at this area often but had not realised until now that it was Nowa’s friends that were finding the firewood, building it, lighting it, looking after it and playing with it – as in they were only four/five years old! I was seriously worried and kept covering my eyes at what they were doing!

We had a meeting planned with the SMC (School Management Committee – a bit like our Parent Councils) and reps from the PTA, the village headmen and even an MP from one of the political parties. It was supposed to start at 7am and so I ran with Lameck at 6am which I thought was very nice of him to come and meet me at that time. Even at that time there were a few kids out to join me although not many as it was quite cold at that time. The head teacher came to the house but did tell me they were not ready and said he would come back when they were – 9am we started!

I have mixed feelings about how this meeting went as I got the result I wanted but not maybe in the way I wanted. It was very formal with introductions and then I gave a speech about all the good things I had seen so far, what I thought we had achieved and would continue to achieve and why I thought it was so important that they funded another teacher for St2.

They then spent ages discussing this and eventually came up with the idea that the children would pay 150kwacha a term to pay for a volunteer teacher. That is just over 50p a term and they have three terms. I was very uncomfortable with this as I know they were previously getting money from the villagers to pay for the teachers and so it is parents who were getting asked to pay really but this seemed worse to me. I particularly stressed that the children should not feel they cannot come to school if they cannot pay and so they said they would help out families who were struggling. I did not think about this until later but there will be families who have several children in the school and this would not be easy.

To give them different ideas I talked about how they could do enterprise things like using people in the community to teach the children how to make things which they could then sell. I was very proud of my idea at the last minute of the children/school having a chip stall as the village does not have one and they seem to be popular in other places. They really liked this idea and even then thought about lending money to people and using the interest on getting back to buy the stuff needed etc. Not sure what I thought about that either really!

everyone who was at the meeting

everyone who was at the meeting

Mr Kalivute had a girl in mind for the job so we went to see her straightaway and she accepted so I was really pleased that I had helped achieve this.

Mr Kaunda was nowhere to be found to take me to church and my host mother did not want to sit at the front with me so Mr Jims, the head teacher, had to stay with me. I did try to say that I did not need to sit at the front but they would not hear of it. The service was not as much of a novelty as last week but was only marginally longer at two and a half hours.

Spent some time working in the afternoon but felt guilty for doing so as there were a crowd of kids watching me and I felt I should just be playing with them, so that is exactly what I did, pretty much until it was time for dinner and bed!

trying to work in the school

trying to work in the school





Glow and Malawi working together

3 06 2008

Yesterday I made the other teachers from the Sharing Success and Making Connections conference that had expressed an interest in my Malawi glow group members of it and used it with my class.  A few weeks on from the conference I know but as I have said on here before school has been incredibly busy and I was adamant I wanted the glow group finished to how I wanted it before I opened it up.  This I gave up on as I realised that is not important and it is not long until I go!  So the only thing I have not put on it yet that I specifically wanted on it are the surveys that I had planned – well the point is they are not really planned, I just know I want them on there!

So I asked my class to go on yesterday and start answering questions I had set on the discussion pages about what games and ideas I could take out to Malawi for maths, language, P.E, playground games etc.  This was after I had read them out the letter from my family etc which certainly sparked their interest and made them keen off their own back to raise money for the school and for gifts, ie a football particularly, for the four year old boy that will be in the house.

They were really only interested in writing about their pe and playground games so still looking for active learning/needing no resources games for maths and language, hopefully I might get some of these as other schools get involved.

Tomorrow I am going to spend time with p.4-7 showing them glow and hopefully getting them interested in it, as well as explaining a bit more about Malawi.  Then I want to make sure they all have their passwords changed and have been on before the summer.  One problem I have at the moment with staff passwords is that apart from myself we only have another 2 permanent class teachers in school at present so I don’t have the passwords for the other teachers.  Most children are going to end up with their passwords before the children do!

Today I bought myself from Amazon a wind up mobile phone and ipod charger, a wind up torch, a wind up radio and a lot of batteries!  I am going to take my ipod to the village (and keep it on me!) and use it with small speakers to play scottish music on as requested.  I had better brush up on my scottish country dancing to teach it to the village!  I will give the radio as a gift to the family since they mentioned that.  I suppose then I only need the batteries for my camera but I am sure I will be using that a lot.  I will be taking my video camera too but will just need to use that sparingly as it will be three weeks before I can charge anything with electricity.  I will be taking a head torch but thought I had better get a wind up one too.  I was really surprised at how cheap all of these things were but then even more surprised that the packaging came to more than the actual cost of the items.  Still bought them though as I have no time to get to the shops and search things out!  I also bought a load of tablet and shortbread!  I am planning on buying a parachute as a gift for the school, they are not exactly cheap but not as expensive as I thought they might be.  I might pack it in my hand luggage – I am not feeling very confident about the flights!





Not long now

1 06 2008

I have just got home from Edinburgh where I have been at the second training weekend for the global teachers programme.  It is now only 3 weeks on Friday (that is quite scary sounding!) until we go and this weekend has really made it seem real!  It was also very exciting, for most of us this was probably due to the fact we got given a profile about our school and a letter/profile about our host family.  The other great thing was meeting last years GT’s and getting to ask them all of our questions.

I think we are getting our profiles emailed to us so if we do I will post them on here.  My school is called Gwengwe Primary School and has 381 pupils and 5 teachers which includes the HT and DHT and is split to 3 males and 2 females.  Of this number two of these are volunteer teachers so are untrained and there can be difficulties paying them.  The pupil to teacher ratio is 76:1 which is good for Malawi.  There seems to be good support from the community and the school is in fairly good condition – there are desks in every classroom and pupil: textbook ratio is supposedly 1:1 which would be extremely unusual.  We were warned not take all of the information as correct!

I will be living with Mrs Dalikeni Chiziya and her four year old son.  There was no mention of a father but this does not mean there is not one about apparently – he might just not have been there the day the profiles were made up.  They rely on farming and the house is located only 50m from the school with a borehole for water 100m away.  The house has two bedrooms and I will have one of them.  In the letter it said they liked chatting to friends in their spare time and listening to the radio; although they do not actually have one!  The mother is hoping I will take out ‘Scottish music on a cassette that we can listen to’ so I guess I need to be looking for portable radios and cd players preferably with some wind up charger!

The village has a small shop to buy soft drinks, matches, biscuits etc and there is a tea room!  It is supposedly 50km from Dedza and 10km from Mayani trading centre which has shops and transport links and a health centre and probably a market.  I am not that close to other global teachers although near a main road so it might not be difficult to meet up.

We got all of this information on Friday night and spent the rest of the night talking about that and locating our village on a map of the district. 


               Where we are all going

On Saturday we got information about education in the Dedza region specifically, a session on strategies for working in schools, a Chichewa language session, advice on running our INSET’s in the TDC’s (Teacher Development Centres) and a display from last year’s GT’s as well as talks from Kay Livingstone from LTS and Elizabeth Williamson from the Scottish Government.  When we do the INSET’s I will be taking (with a couple of other GT’s) full day sessions on Leadership and Management, Numeracy and Literacy and PE so I was quite happy that I got what I had expressed most interest in.

Today was really about living and coping dilemas both with our host families and in the schools and there were some difficult issues that we had to discuss, all of which had happened to former GT’s.  These included:

  • LCD has told your host family that you would prefer not to eat meat yet you can tell they have spent a lot of their allowance on buying meat for special meals.  They say it is a sign of respect and honouring you as a guest.  How do you respond?

          Being vegetarian I got a bit worried about this one!

  • A local trader becomes very insistent that you help him get work in the UK.  You pass his stall every day on the way home.  Tactics and strategies?
  • Certain cultural customs disturb you, such as children, particularly girls, kneeling when speaking to male teachers.  You do not want them to do this when speaking to you.  What is the best course of action?
  • After three weeks of all your efforts, the young teacher to whom you are giving the most support is still allowing corporal punishment.  Although she is not doing it herself, she is allowing a senior pupil to walk around swishing a stick.  The Head Teacher is not too concerned.  What would you do?

The last one there was quite interesting as my group were discussing this one and we thought you would have to leave it as you had tried, it is a custom and the Head Teacher was not concerned.  It is not supposed to be allowed though.  We had with us this weekend a Malawian who works for LINK in Dedza and he discussed this with us and said that actually we could take it further, either to the School Management Committee or to the head of the zone.  During the whole weekend it was really useful to have Wilford there as he could answer so much for us.

We also had an input on glow today and out of this years and last years GT’s it was interesting to see how few had any involvement with Glow so far; that is about 30 teachers across a number of authorities.  I guess I have become so involved with it that I have not realised how many councils/people still have to come onboard.  I ended up showing a couple of my glow groups as they were to do with Malawi and I think that one of my outcomes for LINK is going to be about using glow with past and present global teachers to share resources etc.

I would say there are three things I now have left to do:

  •  buy things like wind up chargers, batteries, gifts etc
  • photocopy/collect AIFL things etc and get the kids to make stuff
  • pack! – We only have a 20kg allowance so this could be tricky!

And get something stronger for the plane – we have five flights on the way home, although I was told by someone from last year that we do not get off the plane every time, but it is Malawi – Zambia – Ethiopia Rome – London – Glasgow.  I will have had my fill of flying after that, unfortunate that it is only 10 weeks after that I will be flying to Chicago!

Also really worried now as several of last years GT’s said they put on weight; no wonder after they also then told me all of the stodgy, carbohydrate type food that we would be eating.  I had already thought of starting a running club at my school as my excuse for going running and not appearing like a totally crazy white woman but I may have to do it 2 or 3 times a day!


             Chichewa language session