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Planning (Wednesday, 2011 February 16)

February 16th, 2011

Monday was the installation of the sous-prefet of my newly-minted arrondisement. We were told last week that we should be there and that class was cancelled, but it turns out that was all a big joke. Naturally I didn’t have a lesson planned, or have the papers graded that I got the week before. So it was a fun day.

Today, Brondon came by my house briefly to ask if he could borrow my copy of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. I think he is drawn to the gripping narration of the crisis and the clash between indigineous worldviews and those of the Occident. Ha ha, just kidding! He’s using it to find verbs for English class. Yesterday he came by with an assignment where he had to find 10 English verbs and provide their present and past tenses, and the only ones he could find in his notebook were ones that his teacher had used in class (and so couldn’t use). He tried some others, but most of the interesting verbs are irregular — "read", "speak", etc. So he asked if I had any "reading books" in English, and when I presented him with the aforementioned, he began skimming the text, looking for appropriate words. "Is this a verb?" he asked, pointing at "nothing", or "accommodated". I think he’s keying onto the conjugated endings. Not bad for a boy who still regularly has trouble finding the English section of the French-English dictionary (I’m actually impressed as hell). So I guess he must have turned in his homework with four- and five-syllable Latinate verbs in present and past tense. I wonder what his teacher thought.

I am looking now at the "Planning des Activities du 2eme Trimestre", which we received about a month ago. The 2nd trimester includes 3rd and 4th "sequences", and the 4th sequence is coming to an end — we give out tests next week. The planning indicates that Friday is International Mother Tongue day, that we give out tests next week, that we grade them and fill out report cards the week after, and other sundry things. Planning is one of several English loanwords like gentleman and challenge which you can get away with using in French, even in official documents. ("True" French would be planification.)

I’ve been doing a little planning of my own, since I have a regional meeting this weekend and I’m taking a road trip to Yaoundé the weekend after. So I need to have as much of the test writing/grading done as far in advance as possible, ’cause odds are I won’t have much time to do it over the next few weeks. So far I’m doing fine; today I finished grading the quizzes I’ve had for over a week, and all my tests are written — just need to get them printed out. I even managed to finish a review of the "textbooks" the Agency supplied us with back in stage; we want to make sure they follow the syllabus pretty closely, in case we get audited by the Cameroonian government. Not the most likely thing in the world, but I guess Admin’s doing their planification too.

Other reading: Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like. I’m especially fond of the entry on hot showers.

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