Thursday, September 11, 2008

When life hands you beaches...

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. What if life hands you a beautiful beach or lush scenery? Well, I smile.

As much as I have to do on this island, I am not going to miss out on appreciating the beauty around me. It is amazing that the locals don't stop to look deeply at what they have. It has become a daily part of their routine to pass by the water without taking a second look. So I will have to sacrifice looking like a tourist to stop and smell the waters. My camera has come in handy quite a lot. Thanks again "moms" for the miraculous camera I now have to use here!!!
The other day we had training that involved how we deal with our mental health while we are here. My first step towards dealing with my mental health to remain healthy and sane is to "relish" in all of St. Lucian beauty. Hiking is high on my list when I get the free time, but until then it is the simple things that are going to keep me on track.
It is so hard to wrap up all that I have seen in the last couple of weeks in one blog... so much that I cannot even think of something to write about! Work is going to be interesting. I will be working at a school every week, shadowing with the department of youth and sports, and working with a non-governmental organization that I already find incredble need for in the community. The NGO is one that utilizes the CARE program for kids that have dropped out of primary, or failed the test at the end. These youth are given a second opportunity to learn many of the same school subjects, in addition to largely focusing on human development as a learning tool. Coming from the psychological background, I am all for this learning tool. What I like most about the school and the NGO that I am working with, however, is that they are very much student-centered. This approach is the opposite of the lecture approach, which I have always strayed away from because I believe that most students are participatory learners and need stimulation beyond a lecture or the like.
Beyond the classroom, I have had many different experiences. I have already experienced what it is like being sick in the Caribbean. I have a small cold and yet, it feels as if I cannot breathe because of the heat! They say everyone gets sick in the first month or two so I guess I am lucky that it came earlier than later.
More to come when I can think of what to write! Enjoy the posted pics.

Getting Paid versus paying...

Some of the perks of being in St. Lucia for the Peace Corps are fairly obvious. During one of our lunch breaks in training, some of us walked to the nearby local beach. While most of the people on the beach were locals, there were some tourists staying in the rendezvouz... a hotel designated for only those romantic couples that like to stroll the beach on a sunny day holding hands and frankly making everyone else on the beach sick to their stomachs.... this beach brought us to the thought that - wow- we are getting paid (not much, but still) to be here while there are many people that are actually paying to be here! Quite the concept.
The pic is a boat from the US Navy that was docked at St. Lucia for a little.

Teaching you, teaching me.

I was very lucky on Tuesday when I had the pleasure of beginning my internship with the Gros Islet primary school. Unaware of where the school was located, I hopped on the bus to Gros Islet and hoped to magically know where I was to stop. Luckily, I was joined by a little girl that I saw wearing a uniform (her mother just threw her on the bus), and I was hoping that by chance she was going to the same school I was to attend that day. Very fotunately, she was! When I got off of the bus, however, I only saw the infant school (which is like preschool/kindergarten and first grade). I asked the first woman that I saw walking along the road and she happily guided me to the school. While we were walking we began to talk and I found out that she was the teacher that I was to be observing that day! What are the chances!?!?!

I was immediately introduced to every staff member and what was to be shortly an assembly in my honor! I was both taken back and proud of being there this day offered such a respectful and formal introduction to the students of the primary. I was pulled into the center of a full circle including every member of the student body and the staff members as well. Within a matter of seconds, I was to be sung to (in very harmonized singing) and every student came to shake my hand! Talk about the welcome! I was immediately impressed with the manner in which they greet visitors and felt at the same time more pressure in the fact that my presence was now very much known.

All of the students admired my blue eyes...and white skin. I was immediately asked to share the "American National Anthem" and was introduced to many teaching methods used in the Caribbean. The teacher that I was working with was quite informative in the methods that she was employing. Her approach was vey interactive and the students were hardly ever distracted. Overall, I was very impressed by this teacher! In many ways, she was much better than teachers I have seen in the states! (And she has only been teaching a few short years).

Though much of my day entailed a lot of observation, I was able to interact with the students a little bit. Some of the other PCVs found themselves teaching the classes already while the teachers left to some unknown destination. Thank god that did not happen to me!!! Although I have some tutoring experience, I have never accepted the role of being a teacher in context of the classroom.

Many of my students had a sense of humor and liked to look at me funny. Though I realized that they were probably looking at me because I was looking at them. Some of the students, just as the bus drivers here, like to believe that I am working as a CIA agent or a undercover agent for the DEA. :) I tell them, nope, I'm just a Peace Corps Volunteer!