Day 2…

Well, if this teaching Gambian-style, I’m all for it. I started at 9:00, had a half-hour break around 11:00, then continued to 2:00, at which point classes ended for the day.

I sat in with “Aunty Cole” who is head of (Secretarial) English for two hours and first she / we read a bit of a novel “Granny was a Buffer Girl” by Berlie Doherty. Initially, it was hard to see how this novel set in and around early to mid 20th century Sheffield met the needs of a Gambian Secretarial class of about 10 teenage girls. My homework has been to read th book and now I’m halfway I can see it’s not as daft as it seemed at first sight. There are religious and social tensions, tales of love and disapproving parents and I’m about to deal with the chapter(s) about a short-lived handicapped boy. Still not sure about “Tha” and “Thon” though!

After play-time, I worked on teaching the same class Tabs and Rulers in Word: not a great challenge for me. The girls are biddable, docile, occasionally giggly and apparently motivated, but their teachers seem to encourage them by commenting on their laziness. Despite this, Aunty Cole has a good relationship with them and when working through homophones (it’s/its, we’re/were/wear etc.) the sentences they and she made up were often kindly teasing. (Binta: “You’re a strict teacher” Aunty C: “You’re a lazy pupil”). At one point a girl was told to say a sentence to me (“You’re very handsome!”) My reply of “You’re charming” was misconstrued as “You’re chubby”. However, we got over that problem. She kept telling her class that “their” could only refer to animate objects: I’m not sure whether to correct that misconception.

This afternoon I went to buy a Gambian sim card. Sadibou and Rohey, who both turned up this morning, offered to take me. I also changed some Euros into Dalasi – much better rates here than back home: GmD40 per Euro and the sterling rate looked good too.

Unfortunately, it looks as though I’ll need to get my phone unlocked before it’ll accept my Africell card. Sadibou reckons that’d be a lot cheaper than buying even an old model out here. So that’s tomorrow’s task. Sadibou and Rohey wanted to know when I want to go to the beach! I think that’s on the agenda tomorrow too. I will try to remember to think briefly of all my cold Scottish friends as I swim, lounge on the beach, body-surf and have a Julbru.

Rohey and Sadibou are both taking groups of young folk away at the weekend, on expeditions. I have been invited to join them. Looks like leave Friday from Brikama, walk to either Gunjur or somewhere called “Bingbong” or similar, depending on which group I join, then community work at our destination before walking back. Sounds like hot fun!

I always underestimate how slow the computers and the Internet connection here are. I am writing my blog on the laptop to save time, then transferring it by Flash drive to a networked machine for uploading, but the latter is sooooo slow and that’s frequently compounded by electrical blackouts!

I also keep forgetting it’s winter here. Sadibou is wearing a short-sleeve jersey over his shirt: reminscent of the sort of thing my mother would have tried to get my sartorially-conservative father to wear in my youth. I also saw a guy walking down the road in full day-glo foul weather gear similar to what North Sea fishermen wear, including the hood of his jacket. I was in teeshirt and shorts.

Just finished the novel. Quite good – a coming-of-age thing. The first half is made up of the stories of older generations, then it moves to the story of the main protagonist, a girl at University about to do her year abroad. The motif, as I see it, is about the connectedness of past and present, the way that earlier generations lived is still the same as ours, as human needs and desires havn’t changed over the years. Still a bit doubtful about its relevance in this context though.

It’s interesting reading a text with a view to its accessibility to a specific group – you pick up figures of speech, cultural references etc. that you would miss reading it “for pleasure” or for use with a class of Scottish kids.



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