Club (Monday, 2012 February 27)

February 29, 2012

It is the end of a Monday and I am just getting out of 2e, nominally 13h50-14h40 but typically 13h50 until I can’t cope any more or all the students are gone. Today that hour arrived at 16h, which is kind of early. I closed the lab on the last student after I got tired of watching her do the same stupid thing over and over again while ignoring my profoundly wise, Socratic-style questions. I am tired of 2e C (I am supposed to be grading their papers even now). I am tired of the way that they chat and goof off and ignore me when I lecture and the way that they subsequently fail to perform at all in the lab. I am not sure whether I am more tired of this completely rambunctious lack of self-control or its opposite, my 2e A4 class’s abject and complete indifference.

You might not know this but when I went home for summer vacation last year, I packed a few essential provisions (as in "où sont les provisions?"): sesame oil, packed in a last-minute flash of inspiration, because sesame oil is awesome. Second: a can of stuffed grape leaves. I have been saving this can of stuffed grape leaves. It is my treasure. I have never mentioned it to any other volunteer and I have no intention of sharing it. It is In Case of Emergency. I already know that a day will come when I will need that can of stuffed grape leaves — a day when sachets and chocolate are not enough, when I cannot bear to be doing this work or being in this village. When this day comes, I will lock my door, turn off all my lights, crawl into my bed with the can of stuffed grape leaves, open it very carefully, and eat every last one.

Today was almost that day. Almost. I am writing this from the sober end of three sachets and 1/4 bar of chocolate I still can’t bring myself to grade these tests.

As I said, I cut out early because "we" had a rendez-vous at the sousprefet’s house to install some software so I absolutely had to peace out. We didn’t install all of it — for some reason Nero 7 isn’t compatible with Windows 7? — but I’ve successfully unloaded the rest of that menial travail onto one of the students of the new "informatique club".

It turns out that this is going to be the blog post to bump the Maroc pictures off the front page of my blog, so I feel comfortable adding some more pictures to this post.

This is the newly-reinstated "Club Informatique". We meet whenever I am capable of being in the lab without threatening to stave someone’s head in. From right to left, there are: Brice, me, "Steven" (although I thought his name was Simeu), Domche, and I think Poula, with the lower row being André and Fokui Justin. During this (obviously staged) shot I am saying something along the lines of "And as you can see here, the problem is that this keyboard has had the wire yanked out of it and so there is absolutely no possibility that it can ever donne."

This is Brice. He approached me because his friend had installed CentOS on his laptop and he was having problems with getting various software thingies to work. Solution: install Ubuntu. Good kid, but a little slow to see implications or work things out thoroughly. (He keeps trying to get Windows software to work on Linux or vice versa.)

"See, this is where the wire would be." On the right is Fokui Justin, who came to me with a bunch of students from the 1e class I don’t teach. The school’s other Informatique teacher gave them an assignment to "go research" algorithms (which is one of his lazier ways of getting around the fact that he has no idea what they are or how to teach them) so I gave them a crash-course. Students from that class still drift in and out of the lab, trying to learn HTML from a teacher who doesn’t really know it himself.

Everyone was doing gang signs…

… But this is my favorite: "West Region!"

This is Domche, one of my students from Tle C/D. (In my head I call him "Wolverine", because he sports this thin, not visible in this photo, but noticeable sideburn-like beard.) He’s pretty motivated, comes to lab often, and takes copious, copious notes in this giant black notebook. I really like him and it is kind of frustrating to me that there is absolutely no way I can transmit to him even a significant fraction of the experience I have with computers. The Bacc now has a mandatory Informatique section, but Domche came to me early in the year saying he’d decided to also take the optional Informatique section and could I teach him?

Funny story, actually. After that, I told him I was always around and to just come with an idea of what he wanted to learn. He asked how he could compensate me for my time and (as a volunteer) I told him I wasn’t interested in his money. He responded that it was nevertheless the way he preferred to operate and, lacking other recourse, I tried to "display some adaptability" by using the Cameroonian formulation of "no" that I’ve heard the most often: "We’ll see". I don’t know how he took it, but he said "J’ai compris", literally "I understood", but idiomatically something like "Got it".

I don’t yet have a close-up of André, one of the coolest kids in my salle. He’s younger than the other ones by at least four years, probably closer to eight, and he’s absolutely awesome. He’s one of the random kids I trust with my house keys ("Go get me more blank CDs") and yesterday he came up to me and said he wanted me to teach him HTML!

There are a few other kids I’d like to have pictures of in this post, but that’ll have to wait for the "suite". Anyhow, so this is what I’m doing after school every day when I’m not drinking or eating chocolate.

(I secretly love that Domche’s still doing the live-long-and-prosper sign.)

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