Saturday, July 23, 2011

Adventures in Madagascar: Teaching English and Getting Stuck in the Bathroom

This last week our English club in Toliara went really well. We started with 45 students on Monday and ended with 94 students on Friday! It was quite the experience; six of us teaching 94 students from all different age ranges. We had to pull out all of our creativity, flexibility, and patience to make it work. Most of our material was prepared for younger students, but our adult students went along with it really well and some of them were even helpful in teaching the other students. It was also nice to have adult students because we were able to have good conversations with them and learn some about their lives. As crazy/chaotic as it was, I'm really going to miss working with some of those students.

Teaching english to non-native speakers is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Not only are you unable to clarify concepts that may be difficult for them to grasp, but it is practically impossible to discipline students when you do not speak their language. Sometimes it helps when you have interpreters, but if children are not used to structure, they can get a little out of hand. And of course they chatter on around you in a different language, and it is frustrating for you when you can't understand them. Our students do enjoy it when we try to learn Malagasy. It shows them that we don't have all the answers, and that we can learn just as much from them as they can from us.

Now for a humorous bathroom story: We went to the restaurant of the hotel next door for dinner, and I needed to use the bathroom so I went in and closed the door. What I didn't realize was that there was no handle for the door and that the door latched when I shut it all the way. So I spent a couple minutes trying to pull the door open (although there wasn't much to hold onto except a broken lock and two tiny holes where the doorknob used to be). I didn't want to call for help because I didn't want people to know that I was stuck. After a while, I gave up my pride and banged on the door. Luckily, the girls heard me and came over. They laughed at the fact that I was stuck; until several of them tried kicking at the door and realized that I was legitimately stuck. Finally, Rachel ended up kicking the door as hard as she could several times in a row before it banged open. A metal piece from the doorframe broke off and the latch ended up scraping up the wall pretty well. Relieved that I was out, we all had a good laugh about it. :)

Next week we will be doing a lot of traveling to see some different things in Madagascar. First we will go down south of Toliara to a seaside fishing village to spend the night. Then after flying back to Tana we are going to spend two days at a rainforest. Please pray for safe travels and continued health as we go. (By the way, the Schaffler's friend is okay, he just lost his phone and no one could get ahold of him. Thanks for your prayers.)

In Christ,

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