May 23rd- Heading back to site

This should be my last word on the internets for the next 3 or 4 months.

I don’t send word out as much as my better half so I will say some general things and then close with a story about teaching at my school.

Things are pretty good! My site is great, the village is full of amazing people, and the obstacles (there are always obstacles) are not completely insurmountable- it will be a challenge and will require a lot of patience and hard work, but it is possible to overcome. Now, I feel like MLK Jr.
Some of the most difficult obstacles are the differences in culture. These cannot be side-stepped out of frustration, they must be (*big sigh*) embraced. The ones that are most challenging are the differences in acceptable communication. I am not the best communicator in the world- I don’t like talking on the phone, I can become overwhelmed by groups larger than 4 people, and I cannot listen and talk at the same time. That said, I have built up communication skills that serve me well professionally, at least in the states. However, those skills are NOT the skills I need to successfully communicate with Ni-vans. Being direct and confrontational will get things done back home; here, it is a poisonous stance.
So on top of getting out of my comfort zone I need to develop (what feels like) a lackadaisical approach to timely communication and scheduling- and to do so with an excellent upbeat attitude. Not impossible- but very challenging.

This school break (Spring break back home, here it is just first spel) we went to New Zealand. We had been planning a visit there, it just became more sensible to complete it sooner than later. It was amazing! Very beautiful, and the weather this time of year was very nice, klosap to Portland in October/November. It was a good break, but honestly I am ready to get back to my school and get back to work. The next 19 months are starting to look like they will fly by really fast. A good thing- but also a scary thing, considering everything that I want to accomplish before then.

  I do everything that I can think of to become or at least emulate a great teacher. To my way of thinking, (since I work with very young children), this boils down to motivation and the cultivation of the desire to learn. So I stock up on things to bribe children with every time I come to town. Marbles, stickers, small pieces of candy; these are just some of the things you can get from me for doing your homework, or successfully doing an exercise publicly in class. Parental Involvement is another way to impact learning, so I made a point of talking to some of the parents and asking them to ask their children, “What did you learn today? What homework do you have tonight? How many stickers have you gotten?” I also asked my host Papa to do this. He shook his head, and replied that he did not need to ask his kids if they received any stickers on any given day. I asked why not. He said that when they get a sticker in class, on their way home they run down the street screaming, “HEY! I got a sticker today! A big one!” He said when a child gets a sticker in class, everyone knows. Needless to say, that story made my day. I can’t wait to get back to site and see their faces.

We miss you all- thank you for reading, writing and caring about us and our work. We could not keep doing what we are doing without your support, so thank you- we appreciate every single one of you. Take care, and we look forward to hearing from you, and connecting again in August/September!

Peter

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