Monday, October 11, 2010

“I only have one problem…”

At this point in my service, time really flies faster and faster. It seems like only yesterday we were at 8 months left and now we are down to 6.5. The countdown on my computer tells me that I have 190 days to go, total. Like mom said, "I can remember when Tom's wedding was that far away!"

At my schools, my days are filled with creating as much excitement about libraries and reading as I can. I am working with the teachers to organize the masses of teaching resources. With the kids, I am reading to them and providing various activities to create incentives to keep them reading on their own.

At my main school assignment we have been conducting parent satisfaction surveys. We want to get feedback from the parents so that the teachers and principal can discuss some of the things they are doing well and some of the things they need to improve. This was really successful with our student surveys, so I hope for a similar outcome with the parent surveys.

We are also presenting "life skills" to all the teachers this week. We did life skills last year with the principal and tested it out with one class. It was a really positive experience for the kids, so we want all the teachers to get on the bandwagon. This week I will be talking to them about the benefits of life skills teaching and helping them learn how to incorporate it in their classroom. The principal is very supportive of this; she is determined to make it a part of their curriculum, which means this will be sustainable!!! That's exciting for me.

A story…

Every now and again our Peace Corps director does site visits at our main work site. She comes for an hour and a half to talk to you and your counterpart just to see how things are going. These have been kind of intimidating for me in the past, especially when I was really struggling. So I made sure to put my best foot forward. Things have been going well, so I didn't count on any issues arising.

The first thing the director asked was, "have any issues or difficulties come up in your working relationship?" I'm thinking everything has been going great, so no worries.

The principal responded, "Well I only have one problem…"

My heard plummeted! Inside, I was panicking, "this is so unfair, especially since she didn't bother to talk to me about it." I even go as far as to think, "after all I've been through, just send me home now. Clearly I just can't get this right."

I kept a straight face and waited for the principal to finish her thought, "and that is, that Katherine is not staying for another year."

Relief overwhelmed me! Later I laughed at my internal panic. The rest of the visit went great. And I just have to say that it feels so good to be on the right track, working together with Lucians on things that really seem to matter.

Other highlights:

We just got a new supermarket up north. I went in the other day and thought I'd stepped through some kind of portal into the United States. It's bigger, better, and more stocked than any other supermarket here. I spread the good news and soon a bunch of us were running around like little children saying, "did you see the portobello mushrooms? did you see the artichokes? did you see the cream cheese? did you see the tortillas? did you see the chips?" It's been rather hysterical, culturally shocking, and exciting. I'm not sure if this new supermarket is a good thing for my budget. Since discovering it, I have indulged in Portobello mushrooms, hummus, yogurt and granola, and real celery. All of that might sound pretty ordinary to you, but for me it's been heaven.

This weekend one of the other volunteers organized a "bake day" for all the PC girls who could make it. She's been watching a little too much food network. So, we all gathered at my house with our various baked dishes. It was worse than Thanksgiving. We literally ate ALL day long. It started with coffee, my homemade cranberry biscotti, and my apple crisp (with real whipped cream). Then we moved to spinach quiche, baked pears, and homemade snicker doodles. We finished up with some fancy pasta, potato skins, and a chicken broccoli casserole. By the end of it we were all laying around in food comas, barely able to move. It was truly a beautiful experience.

Life is pretty good, and I'm thankful for it. Christmas plans are nailed down. I'll be home for just under two weeks of running around seeing people, and then I'm back to St. Lucia for that last stretch. Thanks for all the prayers and support. As always, I look forward to hearing from you all.

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