Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Random Pictures and Clubbing in Cotonou

I am LEAVING the med unit tomorrow (Wednesday, October 20th) by 8am! I'm going with two PCVL (Peace Corps Volunteer Leaders), so we will have a taxi to ourselves, which means no random stopping and we get our own seats. I'm so excited and happy to return to village!! (I do have to return for one night in a month, but that's a month away and I'll only be here for a quick blood test and then I'm finished.)

The photo uploader is down, so I will just provide this link to 30+ random photos (you don't need facebook) - http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2119531&id=28205596&l=d928f45125

There are photos of the Peace Corps Bureau, food, tan lines, my hair and clubbing in Cotonou.

Clubbing was interesting...my friend Lissa and I went with two other volunteers, Sam and Antonio. We didn't go until midnight, which is normal here (apparently), and we didn't leave until 5am, which is normal as well. Actually, when we left, the club was the busiest I had seen it!

It was SO FUN!! It was great to hang out with Lissa and do something so random and ridiculous. We had to dodge creepers more so than in normal daily life (but, not that much more). It was much easier since we were with two men, and could point and say they were our husbands.

Walking back to the Bureau we stopped at the 'cafeteria' which is across the street and is open 24/7. They serve spicy (pimente) omelettes, baguettes, porridge, spicy spaghetti, nescafe powder coffee and tea. They also put mayonaise on EVERYTHING. I have to reiterate multiple times for them not to give me mayo. I always get half a baguette with a one egg omelette (no pimente)and margarine for 20 cents. ANYWAY, we all got omelette sandwiches and casually mentioned the 3 giant rats we saw before realizing how gross it was and leaving after the 4th one. This amuses me because if I had been in America I would have FLIPPED out, but now, rats don't really phase me....I see dead ones being sold on the street all the time (yum...).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

“Beninese mathematics are incredible. They’ve turned a 5 seater into a 9 seater. REVOLUTIONARY” – Erik English

The title of this blog is a text from my friend Erik which very accurately describes traveling in Benin. He was going up north today and after waiting several hours for a taxi was crammed into a car with 8 other people. Oh Benin.

Steps to travel out of my village:
1. Call Nicolas the zem driver, or see him in village, tell him that I want to go Anseke the next morning to wait for a taxi on the gidron (highway).
2.Eat breakfast, eat seconds, eat thirds, learn Nagot, listen/watch people gossiping, and inform everyone that I’m leaving, why I’m leaving, who I’ll see and when I’ll be back then answer any further questions they may have.
3.Nicolas meets me at breakfast place and after greeting people we head to Anseke.
4.Nicolas is the NICEST guy ever and sits with me on the side of the highway and helps me wave down cars and busses. Whenever a car goes by I jump, wave and yell, “PARAKOU!!!” or “COTONOU!!!” hahahah, so fun and funny…I actually enjoy that part because of the ridiculousness.
5.Get a sun burn, talk to the peanut and gasoline vendors, chat with Nicolas.
6.A car pulls over, a man who just arrived steals the spot (it happened, ugh!)
7.Another car pulls over, Nicolas talks to the driver in local language (very helpful) and I greet him and the passengers and try to look friendly and compactable.
8.I’m instructed where to sit, I’ve been given the shot gun seat all but one time. (I had to switch taxis once and got put in the death seat…the middle front, on the center nothing/console/e –brake.)
- I like the shot gun seat the best, besides getting sun burnt, I get to hang my head out the window and breathe.
**3-4 people sit in the front two seats and 4-5 people sit in the back 3 seats**

It all depends on luck…..
- Going to Parakou took me almost 5 hours and 3 taxis (the first two broke down).
- Going back home from Parakou took 1.5 hours…however, I did wait at the taxi gare for TWO hours for the taxi to leave. I still don’t understand why it took so long. I even asked to pay for two seats (the front seat, which is actually 2 seats in Benin) and he said yes, but then filled my 2nd seat!
- Going to Challa Ogoi on move in day took 12 hours, on post visit day it took 8 hours, to get to Cotonou last Wednesday took me 7 hours
- On my recent trip to Cotonou I got a free ride halfway here. A really nice old man in a Mercedes Benz gave me a ride all the way to Dassa! It was WONDERFUL! Nicolas talked to him first and told him I was weak and sick, and he was insistent on giving me a (free) ride. We talked about Peace Corps (which he knew about), his CEG (he’s a principal), teaching, living in Benin, America and the differences, etc. I was really thirsty at one point so we stopped at a Buvette in a village along the way and I bought a coke, he ordered a beer and I insisted on paying for it, after a few minutes he finally let me. We stopped one other time so I could meet his daughter, and he could give her a package. In Dassa he stopped a taxi van and got me a seat, it was really really nice!! Vans are slightly better, but still cramped, and I didn’t have a window seat, but I was really zoned out and sick so I don’t even really remember those 5 hours.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2am Update/Mosquitoes

First, I just woke myself up in the movie room at the workstation because I was furiously scratching my arms and face....3 new giant bites on my FACE and 7 on my arms. UGH!! The hall window was open so now I'm deformed and in pain.

Second, I have been in Cotonou for over a week now, I'm praying I get to go home Saturday morning. I think I'm just going to have to stop hoping for anything. I wanted to go home Monday, well, I never wanted to be here, but I really really wanted to be home by Monday. Cotonou is boring and expensive and dirty. Plus, I feel like I'm living in a college dorm again.

I will update you about my last two weeks at post, trip to Parakou, taxis, my pets and my week in Cotonou all tomorrow. I've been watching movies, facebook chatting and just wandering and exploring Cotonou every day.

OH! Today I bought a camera, so I will share some Cotonou photos, I also took some of my foot tan lines, hair and food (haha). I'm even more excited to go back home now so I can get photos of my village and friends for you all!

Anyway, as it's after 2am here, I'm going to bid you all goodnight and go to sleep.

Until tomorrow,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One Week in Challa Ogoï, A Day in Village and Church

Map of my village (kind of, there are way more houses, and it's not to scale or really that accurate, but that kind of gives you an idea)

Map of my house!

Tuesday, September 28th

So I’ve been at post just over a week. I LOVE my village, I could not be happier. I already feel like I’m at home and feel like the luckiest volunteer because I think my post is definitely the best 

Challa Ogoï is really tiny, but for what we don’t have here, people and community totally makes up for it. I love everyone here!

This week I’ve been busy rearranging and cleaning. I’ve swept all the walls and floors, dusted all the furniture and then bleach water cleaned all the furniture and the floors. It feels new and clean. I decided I didn’t want to do tile, and I don’t think I want to paint either. I actually am a little embarrassed and uncomfortable by how nice my house is. It’s probably the nicest house in my village, and I just have so much stuff. I think tile would just be over the top and ridiculous.

Getting my house in order had taken a while because I spend a lot of time meeting and spending time with people in my village. I want to get to know people and be a presence in the village. Plus, I want friends! Haha.

Anyway, here’s what a day looks like (school doesn’t start for a couple weeks):

5:30am/6am – Gong/Drum goes off
6ish am – let Harrison outside, feed him
6:20am – crawl back into bed, be attacked by Harrison and Moose, listen to people sweeping, singing, greeting each other
7am – get up, sweep, make bed, get ready for the day

8am – 9/9:30am – Walk to breakfast, sit and talk, greet people, meet people for an hour or so, eat WAY too much and feel really really full. Breakfast is soo good. It’s little fried bean flour dough balls and bouillie, which is like porridge. In Nagot it’s ika and koko.

9:30am-1pm– walk around, talk to random people, sit under trees in silence with people, talk to kids, wonder what to do until lunch time, organize my house, rearrange, go through the mass load of peace corps paperwork, greet everyone who comes to my house, paint kid’s nails, play with Harrison and Moose, sweep, etc

12pm/1pm – Lunch with bean lady. 100 F for a delicious heaping plate of perfectly steamed white rice and perfectly cooked (without piment) brown/pinto (?) beans and red sauce. I LOVE and look forward to this lunch every day, I think because I was so deprived in Porto Novo. Bean lady sits and watches me eat every day, she speaks some French. She sat by me at church and helped me figure out what to do too.

1pm/2pm – 3pm/4pm: Shower time, nap time, reading in bed time. When school is in session 12pm-3pm is repose every day.

4pm-7pm: Hang out with Taoffics, think about what I’m going to eat for dinner, ask other people what they’re eating for dinner, get invited to dinner at their house, walk around and greet other side of village, have kids show me around, walk through 'marche,' perhaps buy some tomatoes and pretend like I’m going to cook…later give tomatoes away because I’m eating dinner with people

7pm/8pm: Dinner, yam pillet with neighbors, Taoffics 3 times this week.

8pm-11pm: reading by candle light, listening to sounds of Challa.

And repeat!

School supposedly starts October 4th and this will be way different, I don’t think school will really start until the following week though, or the one after that.

I’m going to Parakou this Friday to do banking and buy a couple things. I’m just going to go for the day because I don’t want to leave behind Harrison and Moose overnight.

Sunday I went to the Protestant church…it was interesting. I thought it was supposed to start at 9, so I arrived at breakfast at 8:15am. I ate breakfast, talked and listened to gossip and then began wondering why we were still sitting there at 8:50am. At about 9:15am a maman tells me that church starts at 10am. Ok, that’s fine, I just decided to hang out until then. At around 10:20am we meander over to the church. Church finally starts at 11:30am. This is Benin. Three months ago I would have freaked out. Now, it doesn’t even phase me. This is normal for Benin, this is why I carry a book with me at all times.

Anyway, church. The men sit on the left side, the women on the right, the eligible women sit in a section in the front right and the kids sit/lay in a little area between the women and eligible women. I went with the maman who makes ika (bean gateaux at breakfast) and rice and beans maman. Rice and beans maman sat next to me in the womens’ section. I was instructed to sit with the eligible women, but I said I wasn’t really eligible because I didn’t want to get married for at least ten years. This was amusing for them, but they accepted after some joking around. Well, at the end of service the Censure from my school (kind of like vice principal) stands up and announces that I’m actually single, I just didn’t want to sit in the eligible women section. Three men stood up and rice and beans maman told me that they would marry me. Great, thanks!

Shopping for Post, Pets and Hair

(10/11/10 - These pictures are from last week, Moose has probably doubled in size since I bought him/her. They're best friends now and both sleep with me and Moose is the sweetest, most cuddly cat ever now, and he eats bugs!!)

Sunday, September 19th

Tomorrow I head to Challa-Ogoï! I’m so so excited. Stephanie, Michael and I will be sharing a van ride to our posts. I am dreading what a packed ride it’s going to be because I have a ton of stuff. We each have a mattress, bicycle, large metal chest, water filter, two buckets, luggage, plus whatever we may have bought to pack into one van. I am trying not to dwell on it.

So, surprise, I have a kitten and a puppy! Yesterday, Saturday, I met Jenny at the Grand Marche to buy stuff and get a kitten with her. I got there first and bought a ton of tissu (material to get clothes made), and other supplies I think I might need: toilet paper, a bucket, a plastic bowl, a scrubber, popcorn, flour, sugar, pasta, margarine, tomato paste and cookies.

When Jenny got there we walked to the lady I knew had kittens (in the meat section) and they had us sit down. Well, they brought out TWO kittens and they were adorable. They’re from the same litter and Jenny’s is probably double the size of mine. She didn’t think I should by mine, but I kind of want to save him or her. She’s so flipping cute: orange, gray, black and white and really really tiny. She’s kind of mean, but I imagine she’ll get used to me. The zem ride home was horrible, she was super pissed off and wouldn’t stop hissing and meowing. I would too if I was shoved in a box.

She has gotten nicer and nicer and is already purring when I pet her. However, I also got my puppy today! Now my kitten hates me even more! But, he is SO ADORABLE!! He is pretty small, but sturdy and healthy and clean. He’s black with white paws and a white tip tail and some tan areas, for example, two little tan eyebrows. He’s so cuddly and friendly and calm. Kristen has been calling him Indy, for ‘Independent’ because he just kind of does his own thing while his three siblings play. I haven’t decided what I want to call him yet, but I like human names for dogs, so I’m probably going to change it.

I also got my hair tressed today. It took SIX hours, but it looks sooo cool. I wish I had a camera because I can’t really explain it. It’s definitely my favorite tress style thus far.

Jenny left for her post today, so crazy! She is way up in the NE corner; we’re about six hours apart. We parted ways last night in a monsoon of rain, I walked back home in knee deep ‘mersa’ water as I like to call it. I can’t believe I’m leaving tomorrow, SO excited!

Swear In Ceremony

Saturday, September 18th

On Friday I became an official Peace Corps Volunteer! There was a surprisingly short ceremony at the ambassador’s house in Cotonou, we (the trainees) repeated an oath and now we’re all official. Yay! It was actually really fun, the ambassador’s house is gorgeous! It was overwhelming to be in such a nice place. He and his wife are extremely personable and nice as well. His wife wasn’t even phased when I was gushing about the wonderful bathroom and the mirrors…I never see mirrors!

It was dumping rain throughout most of the ceremony, but we were luckily shuttled back to the Bureau. A group of us managed to get shuttles to Erevan which is this giant American like store in Cotonou with pretty much anything you want. Everything was ridiculously expensive (small thing of maple syrup was $14). I bought Pringles, two snickers bars, cleaning gloves, incense and lots of stuff for a puppy!! I bought dry puppy food, a few things of wet dog food, a collar and a flea collar! I’m definitely going to get a puppy I decided. Maybe if I have a rodent or bug problem I’ll get a kitten later, but I think a puppy will be better companionship at my post. Plus, to be honest, I’ve never lived alone and I’m a huge wuss, so a puppy will aid with that too. :)

When I got back to the Bureau I was sitting in the lounge and heard Kristen, a 3rd year volunteer talking about how she needed to find homes for her puppies! It was so perfect, I already had bought the stuff. So, she and I are going to meet tomorrow (Sunday) and I’m going to take one of her puppies. She thinks they’re around seven weeks old. I don’t know if I’ll get a boy or a girl or what he or she will look like, but I’m so excited! Especially to be getting one from an American. Beninese just don’t really care about dogs. The puppy my host family has is so food crazed and psychotic, I would never want to take her. I’m not sure if they got her like that, or if it’s just because they feed her pate (nutritionless carb) and keep her chained 24/7, but I just feel better about getting a puppy from an American. Anyway, I’ll let you know what he or she is like!

After Erevan and talking to Kristen, me, Jenny and Lissa went to a restaurant and bought these sandwich/wrap things called shawarma. It was SO good! Grilled chicken, tomato, cabbage, pepper and sauce (ketchup and mayo), all grilled together in the wrap. Mmmm. I love food in Cotonou :)

Finally, we were all shuttled back to Porto Novo. We had a party at a hotel, and all stayed the night. It was fun to relax, dress like an American, and have one final get together with the whole group. I don’t think we’ll all be together again until our close of service meeting two years from now, weird!

Not So Wonderful Things About Benin.

(I wrote this on September 14th while still living in Porto Novo, it's more about Porto Novo than Benin, none of these, besides mosquitoes apply to my life in village)

Disclaimer: I already posted wonderful things about Benin and added to the list today.

1. Mosquitoes
- Mosquito bites
- Mosquito nets (though it’s fantastic for scratching mosquito bites)
- Daily Malaria medication

2. Sand
-Think about going to the beach and trying to de sand yourself before you get back in the car and the itchy feeling you have because it’s impossible…now, think about having that same feeling every single day.
- Sweeping every day

3. YOVO!!
- This should be number one. I hate hate hate the word Yovo. It means white person or foreigner and children SCREAM it, they freak out when they see you and repeat it as loudly and as obnoxiously as possible, or they sing a stupid song, “Yovo Yovo Bonsoir, ca va bien, merci” over and over again. It’s even more annoying when adults use it, but I can tell when they’re just greeting versus when they’re being obnoxious.
- Unless it’s an old person, I do not respond to yovo. Ninety percent of the time I completely ignore it. Sometimes if kids are following me, insistent on getting me to say something I’ll give them a mean lecture (I have a name, yovo is impolite, ask me my name, or just: It’s MADAME!). They either run away terrified, or attempt saying my name or say Madame and I respond and ask their name, how their day is, etc.
- PS: I remember reading blogs and thinking, oh it can’t be that bad, and they should just get used to it, blah blah blah. It IS that bad!! You cannot understand unless you’ve lived here for more than a couple weeks. I remember the first few days thinking, oh how cute and waving and smiling, etc. Now, I want to yell at all every child who utters the word! !!! 

4. Give me a gift, give me a money
- There is a huge misconception that all Americans are rich. I couldn’t afford to give handouts in the United States either, but I especially can’t now! Children, adults, even students ask for money, gifts, my shoes, etc every day. Usually I just ask for something in return and they look confused then I say I’m a poor volunteer.
- Interesting fact: My living stipend is $180/month, in Philadelphia we all received $220 for food for one and a half days.

5. No, I will not marry you.
- So many of the men are so self consumed they will just tell me to marry them, or just be perves and continue to antagonize. Most of the time I’m able to joke and that’s the best way to get them to lay off, but if I’m in a bad mood (walking to or from school in 180 degree weather), I CANNOT joke, DO NOT TOUCH ME, I am a demon and will freak out in the meanest French insults I can come up with (you are not intelligent, you are young, you are not handsome, you are annoying, do not speak to me, you are impolite).
- When I’m not in a bad mood I can joke and tease them. Often times they will ask for your bride price and I’ll say something like a new house, a new car, 500 cows, etc. This always gets a laugh. Or the other good one is to say, I need a husband to do the cooking and cleaning and to take care of the children, it always gets a laugh too. Some people say they already have three husbands, would you like to be the fourth? Etc.

Trip to Quidah

Sunday, September 12th

Yesterday, Saturday, all of us stagiaires went to Quidah on a field trip. Quidah is the most well known historical, cultural and tourist spot in Benin. There is a wonderful museum with information about the history of Benin (Kingdom of Dahomey), the first kings and people and traditions and culture. There is also a lot of information, paintings and other artwork about the slave trade, starting with the Portuguese, whom shipped slaves to Brazil and Portugal. We walked through the museum first.

We also visited the slave graveyard on the walk to the Point of No Return. Millions of slaves died in route to the ships due to horrific conditions, starvation, etc and were mass piled in the graveyard. The Point of No Return is right on the beach, our guide told us that to say goodbye to their country and family slaves would walk around a tree, 5 times if they were a woman and 7 times if they were a man. *I think.* I am definitely going to return to Quidah sometime soon because it was REALLY difficult to be in such a large group, especially because I was really interested and wanted to learn more about everything. There were a lot of people just not interested and talking and it was difficult to hear our guide, plus we were limited on time. They only split us into two groups, so it was 30-35 people per group to one guide. I would write more, but I can’t be sure about what I heard. I talked to my Papa more about it when I got home, but he didn’t really know that much. It was still really intense and emotional. The paintings spoke for themselves in many instances. There were also original slave chains in one section of the museum.

We also visited the Sacred Forest and the Temple of Pythons. These were more cultural sites with a lot of Voodoo stuff. It was raining and I was behind so I heard nothing at the Sacred Forest, but it was gorgeous and peaceful and had lots of interesting statues (and huge millipedes!). I wish I had a camera!! The Temple of Pythons was really fun. Pythons are sacred protectors in Voodoo.

We arrived at the Python Temple and were ushered inside past a group of people intensely praying in a little room, with a tiny goat chained up outside. After the prayer room is a weird dome shaped room where all the snakes are kept and a man just brings out these pythons and hands them to people. (I couldn’t help pondering how that lax behavior with snakes would never fly in America because of insurance costs and fear of being sued haha). Anyway, I have no fear of snakes and Rosa, Jared and I walked up and took a couple. Tons of people took pictures so someday they will be on facebook or other blogs. It was fun to help people who were scared hold the snakes and put them on their necks for photos and such. At one point I was holding four pythons.

My friend Jenny and I wanted a photo together so I went back and grabbed two and suddenly was swept up by this large group of Africans (I’m guessing Togolese or Beninese because they didn’t speak English, Nigerians). I took at least 20 photos with this group. They had me hold the two snakes and they would pose with me for their photographer. At one point I was handed a baby and told to hold the snake next to the baby. It was hilarious. My friend Dione got a picture of them posing with me. I’m not sure if it was just because I am white and also an ‘attraction’ like the snakes, or a combo of that and them not wanting to hold snakes alone. It was SO FUNNY though. I wish I had had a video camera for that particular adventure. Anyway, a little bit later I turned around to leave the temple and there was the poor baby goat, slit throat, sacrificed to the Gods RIGHT in front of us, it was so gross. I’ve seen lots of chickens butchered but it was way more sad to see the cute little goat in a puddle of blood. 

And yes, that’s how this blog will end. Haha.

One Night in Cotonou (mostly reminiscing about food)

Saturday, September 4th

Thursday night I was shuttled to Peace Corps headquarters in Cotonou because I needed my 2nd post exposure rabies shot on Friday morning. This meant that I got to stay overnight in the medical ward where there is air conditioning!! I was freezing; it was so glorious; I slept with a sheet and a blanket! I also took two hot showers. I’m going to buy the puppy something really delicious because it was the best way to celebrate my 50th day in Benin!

Thursday Night
- Beachside bar right on the water with eight other volunteers.
- Watching the sunset from said bar
- Having a Pepsi, even though I prefer Coke, it reminded me of America and family hahah (Cotonou is the only place where they have anything besides Coke).
- Buying a delicious plate of food for 1500F ($3) at the restaurant called Plate of Food. It included a heaping pile of freshly made fries, fried chicken and a huge green romaine-like salad with real salad dressing –not mayonnaise - and tons of fresh veggies!
- Ice Cream at Baguette Dorr, one scoop chocolate, one scoop vanilla/chocolate in a bowl with a cone (1000F - $2). Best ice cream in Benin, according to every PC person, and I concur, it was amazing.
- Seriously considering buying a 2nd dinner at Baguette Dorr when two other volunteers bought double cheeseburgers, including AMERICAN CHEESE and french fries on the burger….next time
- Watching the newish Leonardo DiCaprio movie, Inception, which was FANTASTIC.
- Hanging out with volunteers, exploring the bureau (headquarters), free internet

- Waking up freezing
- Missing the 7:30am shuttle back to Porto Novo (not my fault!)
- Free oatmeal for breakfast
- Watching a movie so painfully bad it was funny, with PCV Kara (2nd Sex and the City movie).
- Lunch at Mandarin: BEST FOOD ever! I got “Mandarin Maniceesh (spelling?). Everyone got a Maniceesh, Erik and I got the Mandarin one which includes chicken, diced tomatoes and onion and delicious cheese (2500F, $5). They’re basically pizzas, but the pizza dough reminds me of naan (Indian bread). Erin and Colleen got Formage Maniceesh (1500F, $3) which is cheese, but the waiter brings out fresh veggies to eat with them. It was also delicious. Oh, and Erik got meat hummus (hummus with a pile of ground meat in the middle), it was served with small bread rounds (like naan as well), and was surprisingly tasty as well. I dreamt about Mandarin last night, it was that good. When you all visit me I will take you there.
- Watching Inception again (AND, Erik is going to put it on my external hard drive, yay!!)
- Napping in a freezing, air conditioned room
- Free, PC, air conditioned shuttle back to Porto Novo with four other volunteers, one other stagiaire (trainee like me), and two facilitators

And, here I am. Back in Porto Novo….back to stage. I cannot wait to be sworn in and get to post and have freedom, privacy and hopefully sleep! Also, next time I go to Cotonou I will bring more money so I can gorge more. 


Friday, September 3rd

I’ve finished three weeks of model school and have one more to go! It’s hard to believe how fast it’s gone by. I was extremely nervous to begin model school, but have ended up LOVING it! Even with 60+ students in a class, I still love teaching. I’m not surprised because I’ve always considered becoming a teacher. I will definitely know if it’s the right choice for me after two years of teaching full time, but right now, I can definitely envision myself continuing to teach when I get back to the States.

Classroom management amuses me because I still feel so young and slightly bad. I was one of those kids who was always sent out of the class, moved to the front (or back) of class, on ‘steps,’ etc. I wasn’t a ‘trouble maker,’ but I was definitely a ‘distraction’ all through K-12. I just talk/talked too much. I got over interrupting around 9th grade, but I could never shut up. I thought as a teacher I would empathize with these students, because I know I didn’t even realize I was doing it a lot of times. BUT, I do not. I empathize with my old teachers and implore their forgiveness for being SO ANNOYING!! I still like these students because they are funny, usually smart and not like the malicious trouble makers (attention seeking boys), but omg, side conversations and blurting answers is REALLY annoying! Haha.

My favorite strategy for dealing with bad classroom behavior is embarrassment. For example, calling on students when they’re not paying attention and they can’t answer the question, changing students’ seats, or having them sit up front by me. Some teachers make their students stand in the corner of the room, facing the corner, but I haven’t yet had to resort to that.

For late students I haven’t really decided what I want to do in terms of punishment. I don’t want to send them home, but it’s really annoying when they come in late! (Sorry every first period teacher I had junior and senior year of high school). At post I won’t send them to the censure because they’ll be beaten. My school at least doesn’t use chains or whips, but they do use sticks/wood. One, I’m not morally ok with that type of corporal punishment and two, it’s actually against the law in Benin (but not enforced, anywhere). I think I may have them stay after class double however many minutes they were late, or write sentences. Hopefully my students won’t be late as much as the students in model school are, because students’ families will be paying for school. We offer model school for free, it’s like free English classes for redoublants (grade repeaters) and students who just want to improve.

When I get to post I will be teaching four classes. Three 6eme classes (like 6th grade) and one 5eme class (7th grade). Second semester I may teach 4eme (8th grade). My favorite grade to teach is 6eme because it’s their first year of English class (first year of l’ecole secondaire/middle school too) and they’re just funnier, cuter and they like singing and games!

PS: There are four grades in l’ecole secondaire: 6eme, 5eme, 4eme and 3eme. They all must take English, French, Math and Science, but they choose their 5th class, I think. It’s probably different in my village because of resources. I’ll let you know!