Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Recriuter

The Recruiter

My years of teaching has given me some useful tools for the Peace Corps. One lesson that I as a teacher learned was that you sometimes have to recruit kids to take your classes. It was a lesson that Mr Florence, my supervising teacher for student teaching and Lanny Parker, my principal at the school I taught at both reiterated. My running club was still going on in the mornings but it had been several weeks since any of the girls had run with me. I was afraid that the head teacher at the secondary school had in some way restricted them from joining running. Girls have different rights in this country. Girls, in some ways, are viewed as second class citizens. It’s changing, but that has been the culture here for years and years. Just this morning I heard on the BBC that there is a movement to change the law which states that it is not a crime if a married man commits adultery with a non-married woman, but if a married woman commits adultery with a non-married man then that is a punishable offense. When I went to the head teacher to talk to him about it he told me that he hadn’t restricted them from joining our running but that maybe they weren’t choosing to run because, as he explained it, girls prefer to do less physical activity and maybe they don’t enjoy running. He went on to explain that in Africa, when a fat man walks into a room, people applaud because of his large size. Size in this country equals prestige. People are often surprised, he told me, when they find out that he is the head teacher at that school because he is a small but older man. The same can be said of girls, they want to be bigger and not exercise, though this conflicts with what they see and hear from western influence of movies and music.

I decided to take the law into my own hands. That evening I went to the area where they play soccer and netball after school. I saw a group of girls that normally ran with me in the mornings playing netball, a game similar to basketball but without dribbling or backboards. I had never played netball and had always wanted to, being a Hoosier and a basketball player myself. So I asked if I could join and of course they were excited to have a white guy jump into the game. We played for a while. It’s a difficult game with a lot of running up and down the grass court. People say it’s closer to the original game that James Naismith invented than today’s modern game. We had a blast playing. Height plays a big factor in this game so I was instantly a prized possession on whichever team I was on. By the end of the game a small crowd had gathered to see the white guy playing.

Afterwards I asked the girls if they were still interested in running in the mornings. They said they were. I went on to tell them how running can benefit them in school as well as becoming better netball players. They agreed to meet the next morning for ‘jogging’. I still wasn’t sure if I would see them or not.

The next morning, at around 6:15am, I headed out the door to see who had come out for running. To my great surprise, the girls were already there, lined up, ready to begin. They asked me where I had been saying that they had been waiting there for 45 minutes! I reminded them that I had told them 6:15 sharp and that I was sorry that they had waited. In all there were 22 girls that ran with us that morning. Many of them for the first time. I was glad to have them join us.

I wish I could say that they continued to run on the other days but unfortunately they haven’t joined us since then. Maybe I need to recruit again, I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like the work is never over, even when you get a taste of success.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

A group of college students are coming for a 2 week period to work with Compassion. I’m taking them on a safari while they’re here. They need to be tourists for at least a little while during their stay. I visitied Queen Elizabeth National Park to make room reservations. I had been through there before but not quite like this. It was really cool. I saw buffalo, elephants, Ugandan kob (like deer) and warthogs. And I was just driving through the park, I wasn’t on an animal hunt. The man that drove me into the park was telling me about something I had read in the paper. Apparently a lion had attacked a man who lived on the outskirts of the park. The villagers were able to get the lion off the man and after some discussion they decided to go after the lion. This guy had driven this man to the hospital, only to have him die there later. The villagers killed the lion with sticks and stones, believing that the lion could attack another man if it’s already attacked this one.

There aren’t any lions where I live. Not many wild animals at all, really. But it’s interesting to me that this happened a few hours from where I live.

And Finally…

I ate rabbit this weekend. Someone had given Jacob a rabbit and he made a stew of it. It wasn’t bad. Jacob said, “Tastes like chicken, but more gamey.” Not sure what that means exactly. I used to raise rabbits as pets, and I couldn’t help but think about ol’ Thumper and Bumper as I was dining on my cuisine. Don’t know that I’ll ever eat it again.


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