Saturday, December 11, 2010

EEFA (Equal Education For All)

My orientation to EEFA went a little something like this: "Here is the book, the curriculum is up on the board, you make up a lesson plan. You teach at the primary school for 50 minutes Monday to Wednesday at 10:30 am then from 5pm-7pm Monday - Thursday at the evening classes." Ready? Go!

Day 1: Thrown into the Lions Den

Dear lord. The only thing more frightening than standing in front of 25 anxious 4th graders with nothing what-so-ever prepared is maybe... scratch that. There is NOTHING more frightening than standing in front of 25 anxious 4th graders with nothing what-so-ever prepared. Lesson of the day: Color (more specifically, "I See (insert name of color here)). So, what did I decide to do? Point at things. Yep. I spent 20 minutes pointing at colors and having the kids say "I see" and then the color that I was pointing at. What was going through my mind? "Okay 20 minutes down, 30 to go... what now?" Stroke of genius! "Everyone take out a piece of paper! (blank stares) Um... paper?" I point to a piece of lined paper, girl sitting in front says something in Laotian and they all take out a piece of paper, phew. I proceed to have them write the names of all the colors and then we draw pictures of objects that are that specific color. Or if you are a 9 year old boy, you take the crayon and do whatever the heck you want with it. Like draw a picture of a spider playing soccer. The best part of the morning class was the last 10 minutes in which we sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." So cute!

Boys at Primary School
Then the evening class. And I thought 50 minutes with 4th graders was hard. Try one hour with a bunch of rambunctious 5th grade boys followed by an hour (teaching a lesson that should really only take 30 minutes) with students ranging from 14 to 20 years old. Beginners class was learning about the past tense: Score! I've totally got this one! ... or not. I'm sure they came away with some understanding but the blank stares were not helpful. Alright the next class should be easier. Nope. How to teach the word "Enough" as in: Am I strong enough to lift this table? and Is there enough bread for everyone? Why are they different? In addition let's throw in some vocabulary... like lift and mechanic and secretary. Now what do those words mean? Seems easy right? Now teach it to 20 people who understand 60% of what you say. There was a lot of gesturing and over-simplifying but I got through it.

Level 2 (2nd hour)

After it was over, I was probably the most exhausted I'd been in a very long time. But the feeling I  had after teaching and the response I received from my students after class "Thank you, teacher!" was enough to make the whole experience worth while.

Day 2 and 3 were fairly similar to the first day. The lessons were equally challenging and my class periods never really went exactly as I had planned them but they always seemed to finish on a relatively positive note.
Day 3 was my last day teaching at the primary school so I waved goodbye to my students and sang one last round of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" before I went back to the farm.

Primary School

Evening Classes

My final day teaching for the evening classes was a bit more difficult. With the primary school children I saw a different group everyday but the evening class students were the same for all four days. I was just beginning to get to know the students when I had to leave. It was a review day so luckily it was an easy lesson. After the first hour with the beginners I got a high five or a handshake from each of the students as we said goodbye. The second hour was also review and was probably the most engaging lesson I taught during my time there. Students were asking questions and I could tell they were really trying to learn what I was teaching. At then end I taught them what "What's up" means in the U.S. and we talked about how bad I was at speaking Laotian (really bad by the way, just awful). 
It was a great way to end my time volunteering and although I would have liked to spend another week getting to know the students and teaching, it is time to move on. So, south I go feeling all sorts of accomplished. 

I think this was exactly what I needed to get myself back in the right mind-set. My time traveling shouldn't be spent focusing on the negative (like how horrible I think the tubing industry in Vang Vieng is) but on  the positive experiences. 

I'm also leaving the farm with a new goal: WWOOFing. (I can do it in Uganda!)

1 comment:

  1. So proud of you, Brittany.

    Got your post card on Thursday last week! Thanks so much.