Monday, August 23, 2010

School Begins

Today, after a week in limbo- unsure of the grades and subjects we were teaching- classes finally began.  I headed out my front door and arrived at my classroom approximately 30 seconds later.  As expected, the classroom was locked.  I soon found out that the locks had been changed Friday and that the principal held all of the keys.  I sat on the stoop outside of my classroom with a number of my 9th grade students for all of first period and part of second period.  By now, I've learned to expect such delays so I took the time to read.

At the start of second period, the principal arrived on the final bus with the remainder of the students.  After a brief assembly, I held about 10 minutes of second period and about 20 minutes of third period.  Despite the fact that I taught for about a half hour, I was exhausted and feeling somewhat in despair.  Other than students chattering to each other in Marshallese, all of my classes were silent.  Nobody would so much as nod their head to the questions I asked and everyone silently refused to participate in the simple icebreaker activity I had planned. For my final class period, I held class for a bit over 30 minutes which felt like an eternity.  Most of the students stared at me as if they had no idea what I was talking about, which they may not have.  This is exactly what has been creating my confusion and elevating my stress- not knowing if the students do not understand what I am saying, whether they don't like my activities and don't want to participate or whether they are just shy because they are new to the school.  I'm guessing and hoping that the explanation is the latter.  Also hoping that tomorrow and the following days get easier as I get used to teaching, establish a routine, get to know my students and their abilities and as they become more comfortable in the classroom and with me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Arrival at Paradise: The Island of Gugeegue

As a volunteer with the World Teach program, I will be spending the following year on the gorgeous island of Gugeegue.  Gugeegue is connected to Ebeye, the second largest island of the Marshall Islands and, by far, the most densely populated- with approximately 15,000 people residing in 1 square mile!  Gugeegue and Ebeye are connected by a 5 mile causeway and are part of the Kwajalein Atoll (the largest atoll in the world).  Gugeegue is quite a small island, I was easily able to navigate the entire island.  It took about 20 minutes to walk the length of the island and no longer than a minute and a half to walk across.

Along the causeway from Ebeye to Gugeegue

My room

Sunset from the dock behind my apt

Although my surroundings are beautiful and living situation has exceeded any of my expectations, the educational challenges here are grand and my work will not be easy.  I hope that I may be of assistance in the classroom and community and would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me to come here in the first place!