You know, March wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I mean, it wasn't good - but it wasn't that bad. I stayed busy. Very busy.
Realizations: On top of my 15 hours of lessons a week, I teach 8 clubs. 8. More or less because I can't say no. Fortunately, a few of those clubs are co-taught with my sitemate(s), so it isn't AS bad.
Advanced English 1
Advanced English 2
Games Club (5th and 6th formers)
Women's Conversation Club
Club with Doctors and Nurses at the Children's Hospital
Club with women at a Salon
Girls Sports Club
Unfortunately, some of the clubs for the older women have been sufferring because the kids take up so much of my time - but I'm trying to reconcile it all. Not like my schedule is getting any less busy, mind you...
So far, my most rewarding club is Girls sports. It's on Saturday mornings (thank's Jake! grrr), but no matter how much I hate getting up early on Saturday, I'm always glad I go. When I was younger, my theater classes or dance classes were always early Saturday mornings. Sometimes Dad bribed me with breakfast beforehand. I HATED getting out of bed, but once I was there - it made it all worth it.
This past Saturday - despite a week of gorgeous, sunny, warm weather - it rained, so we were stuck inside. We did a warm up, and then went into some kickboxing. (Think p90x style Kenpo). These girls are insane. The room we use is the judo room, so there are always pads and things lying about, and we get the girls to beat the crap out of these things. Tiny, skinny girls, using all the muscle they've got in them, punching, kicking. It's really fantastic. After that, I always lead a little bit of yoga (and despite the obvious language barriers, they are getting it!).
They don't have PhysEd like we do in the states, and so most of these girls really have no awareness of their own bodies. (Or any clue how the whole idea of a sports club works - they still wear jeans to class). So a lot of what I'm trying to do is just to get them to know themselves. "If I do this, my body does this." Or if "I reach over here, I feel my muscles here." That kind of thing. I take for granted how much of that I'm aware of, because of early gymnastics and dance classes, all the way through college level movement courses. They marvel at being flexible, and doing handstands and cartwheels - so we're teaching them those things too. It's so much fun, and usually we end up rolling on the floor in some manner laughing like crazy.
And also, I suppose in some way we're indirectly teaching them to take responsibility of, and control of, their own bodies, and in turn themselves. It's no secret that women in this society tend to be marginalized, and oppressed by their fathers and husbands. Letting them punch the crap out of a punching bag, and showing them how to feel at home in their own bodies, might give them a little bit of the confidence they need to stand up to the next irrational instruction they're given. (Though I will give credit, most of the girls we work with have incredibly supportive families. So I suppose we're just protecting them from stupid boys who want to marry them. And when I say stupid, that is by no means a cultural comment, I say that about boys in any country. :-) hehe)
We also just hosted the writing olympics. Which is a world-wide competition hosted by PCVs, for the students to write essays in English. They're given a prompt, and have one hour to write a composition. We had 12 people show up, and I couldn't have been more proud of what they wrote. We prepared them with a little club (yes, another club) ahead of time, and you could tell in the essays they had used what they learned. Rock stars.
Life on the homefront has otherwise been lovely. With the nice weather, I have flowers and trees blossoming in my yard, the start of some vegetables and spices in my house, and mysteriously, I have broccoli growing in the garden from seeds planted last year...I spend most of my lunch breaks sitting by my apple tree, reading. It makes planning for COS difficult, and I am planning, because if I want to go to grad school, I need to start thinking about WHERE to go, and what I need for my applications. Anyone want to take the GMAT for me?
One month of school. Then my parents come. (Yay!) Another month of school. Then vacation. Then Summer Camp. Then back to Amerikastan for a wedding. Then a month of summer. Then a Peace Corps Conference in Baku. Then two weeks and the school year will start again. Why is it going so fast?