Well, I’ve been at post for over two months!!! All the new English teachers had a week of training in the northern city of Parakou. I headed out there with my fellow TEFL teachers to have thanksgiving and talk about our first two months of work. It took about 6 hours to get to Parakou from Houegbo. First I took a bush taxi to Bohican where I could catch a bus up North. Of course the bus was full. While waiting for the next bus, a man in a nice SUV called me over and asked where I was heading. To be brief, he offered me and two other volunteers a ride to Parakou! It was awesome… think air conditioned, comfortable, and he played us Tracey Chapman. We arrived to Parakou in style and headed to the peace corps workstation. Workstations are houses run by the peace corps where volunteers can stay the night, and get some work done. They are also stocked with medicine and have internet. (well most of them are anyways) The peace corps volunteer leader who runs the workstation, Chanti, was preparing a late Thanksgiving dinner so I got to have turkey wings and enjoy the company of my fellow volunteers.
I really liked Parakou. It is a larger city in Benin, but it doesn’t feel overly urban, congested, or polluted like Cotonou can. The people in the north are mostly muslim and just seem more calm. In Houegbo, everyone calls out to me when I walk down the street, but in Parakou people left me alone for the most part. They also have good things there like peanut butter and wagashi. Wagashi is a local cheese. It’s not cheddar, but it’s better than vache qui rit. I also ate some fabulous ice cream in Parakou…. I’m talking Haagen Daas good. It was at the Hotel des Routiers… an upscale hotel that had a zoo and a pool. The pool looked sooo tempting, but it cost more than the ice cream to go for a swim.
At training, we all discussed our teaching jobs… seems most people are hanging in there. We all gave each other advice. I’m going to update/revise the TEFL teacher manuel. It’s already a great resource but I want to add some more teaching strategies to it.
Thanks for all the great comments! I miss you all so much!!! Peace corps is a two year committment Robbie, so I probably won’t be there next year. Some answers to Jame’s questions. I have four classes in Houegbo. Each class has 54- 60 students in it. The students sit on benchs and there is a blackboard. We are lucky to have electricity. Another volunteer has to teach outside under a tree and she also has 50 students!