Tag Archives: Annabelle

Race Against Time

By Annabelle Lafrechoux

Concentrated me

Concentrated me

After our weekend trips, we are often drained and tired from the excitement and the traveling. Mondays are often our most slow day of the week since we try to organize ourselves and get back into work mode. This week we felt an extra pressure to be effective since we were conscious that we only had two days of work which concluded the end of the first phase. As a matter of fact, these were Jae’s and Linden’s last days of work.

By the end of this miniscule work week we wanted to have finished all the units including the extra ones and separately go over them to make sure that every subject area was well covered throughout the year. In my case, mathematics is my secondary focus so I had to make sure that every topic included in the progression of learning was taught and that a certain progression of skills and knowledge were respected. It was interesting to go through all the units and see what the other groups had come up with in terms of topics and teachable ideas. It was the first time that I was seeing the whole year in such detail since we had worked in alternating teams and worked on three or four units each. As I read through them, I realized that there were either some mathematical concepts that were over used or that some were ignored. I needed to go back and change some of the mathematical topics while trying to make sure that they fitted well within the unit or to find a way to do so. Luckily it wasn’t too difficult and I managed to make changes that everyone seemed to agree to.

The whole thing was a race against the clock, in reality we didn’t even have those two whole days since we had a traditional dance to attend. It was an interesting experience but I felt that for some of us it just made the level of stress go higher realizing that we had en even slimmer window of time in which to be productive.

I am happy to share that with everyone working exceedingly hard, we managed to meet all of our objectives. We successfully completed phase one and were able to leave the hostel to go to Zambia and enjoy our last weekend trip.

Pang’ono Pang’ono (Little by Little)

By Annabelle Lafrechoux

A view to remember

A view to remember

Considering that we returned from our adventure at one am on Monday, I must admit we all had some difficulty getting up. We made it a late morning and arrived at our work place, at the local high school, around 9:30 am. We were lucky to have Dr. Stonebanks come in and help us organize ourselves on this slow morning. We set an objective for ourselves this work week: find and develop all of the unit themes for a whole school year. We developed an effective working method to optimize our work productivity.

For the whole week we worked from 9:00 am to 5 pm on the curriculum development and sometimes in the evenings to transfer our work to the computer and work on our blogs. I am amazed to see how much we have accomplished within the time span of a week. We produced at least three units a day and I must tell you that today, Thursday June 13th, we have completed developing the outline of twelve units. It has been a unique experience for me to get the opportunity to work with all of these individuals who have a variety of experiences related to teaching which does indeed make this project so rich.

We also got the opportunity to go and see the school site and observe the progression of the construction. We saw the foundations of the school. It was particularly motivating; a concrete display of our objectives for this trip. It was a really good ending to this week’s work.

Once in a Lifetime Experience

By Annabelle Lafrechoux

My mermaid dream come true

My mermaid dream come true

On Friday morning, we set off early for a five hour drive to get to Lake Malawi. This being our first excursion, the excitement was palpable.

Once we arrived, I was totally charmed by the resort and our rooms. They were directly on the beach. We indulged in all matters that concerned foods and drinks (none alcoholic) which we usually don’t have access to a variety of either one. We relaxed by the beach. This was the first moment in a while when we could just relax. Some read, some swam, some chatted and in my case I kept working on a drawing that I had started in the caravan.

On Saturday, we had the luck to be escorted to an island in the lake by three very entertaining men. A particularity of Lake Malawi is that it has a large variety of a particular species of fish which only exist in this lake. Also, the lake’s water is quite clear and transparent which makes the fish very easy to observe from outside and in the water. We were provided with snorkeling equipment so we went on to explore the underwater world. I must admit that as a little girl I dreamed of being a mermaid. This experience is the closest I’ve gotten to that dream. The fish were not scared of us which allowed us to swim among them. For lunch, the men made us a delicious fresh meal with fish, tomato and rice. Once we got back to the resort we headed out to a restaurant where I ate an awesome pizza (the awesomeness comes from eating the same thing every day for over a week). After supper we assisted in a rhythmic drum session. This day took on a feeling of ‘’once in a life time’’ experience.

Our lucky rock

Our lucky rock

The next day, Sunday, we went exploring the surroundings. We went to the markets, explored some historical sites and a museum dedicated to Lake Malawi. By noon we needed to head back to the caravan without having had lunch and leave if we wished to arrive back at Makupo for supper.  A funny little incident occurred which will make the following even more ironic. We made a stop at a site where a huge rock with large line indents. We learned about its historical purpose as site to pray for water. The rock apparently gives good luck. We all took our turn to get our share of luck.

An hour later, our bus broke down.

We were told that it would take three hours for another caravan to come and pick us up. Frank, one of the group members who comes from Malawi said that what it really meant was Malawi hours. Most of us dismissed his comment wanting to be optimistic. We tried to best entertain ourselves, some took a nap, some read, some played cards.   Two hours and a half later, we got a call informing us that the caravan just left and that it would be there in three hours. Most of us at this point were hungry, thirsty, tired and quite bored. We could see this as an awful experience, I rather see it as a group bonding incident.  We shared whatever food we had, the water and our entertainment skills. After the sun set, we started telling stories; making some up such as one about the vegetarian mosquito Skishy.  Linden tried to start a group work session on crosswords puzzles before getting exasperated with mosquitoes being attracted by her headlight and decided to go on a killing rampage with our dear Rebecca’s nature documentary narrating skills. Let’s say that even though at this point we were trapped in a smelling caravan to stay safe from insects, we had quite some fun compared to what one might expect when thinking of such a situation.

In the end we waited for at least six hours and only arrived at Makupo at 1:00 in the morning. But hey, what is an adventure without the unexpected and bumps along the road?

Like Any Other Wednesday

By Annabelle Lafrechoux

My new alarm clock

My new alarm clock

This Wednesday started out like any other day….not really.

I have now spent a whole week in Malawi and I am stunned to see how fast my sense of normality has evolved. This is now my new typical day:

–          Getting awakened by the crowing of the roosters of the village somewhere around 5:30 am.

–          Feeling lazy for staying in bed until 6:30 am.

–          Finally getting out of my bed which means getting out of the mosquito net which I must make sure is well sealed so that no unknown creature creeps in during the day.

–          Going to the bathroom and starting by doing a round check for Flat Stanley spiders.

–          Eating homemade doughnuts for breakfast.

–          Setting out at around 8:00 am and walking around, visiting and interviewing people related to our project until 12:00 pm.

–          Eating lunch which usually consists of rice, beans and some sort of greens.

–          In the afternoon we work as a group on curriculum development.

–          After our working sessions, fatigue soon follows me.

–          Motivating myself to go out and be part of the community.

–          Usually ending up playing with the numerous children who always hang around the hostel.

–          Getting used to responding to the name Hannah Montana. As a matter of fact my name is too difficult for most to understand or say so I have chosen to go by Anna. It ends up that the children have heard of Hannah Montana so they have decided to call me by that name. It has reached the point where even the adults are calling me by this name.

–          Starved, supper which is usually rice, beans, some meat and some greens.

–          Try to get some personal work done such as journaling and blogging.

–          By 7:30 pm I am getting sleepy and abandon my work to join the others in the sofa area where we always share good laughs.

–          Finally decide to go to bed when I feel that it is a reasonable hour to do so (somewhere around 8:30 – 9:30 pm)

–          Brush my teeth outside while stare gazing. The stars in Makupo are amazing, we can see so many more stars than we do in Canada.

–          Inspection of the bed to make sure nothing crept in it during the day.

–          Enjoy some reading before finally sleeping.

On our daily journey

On our daily journey

I simply wanted to share with you our typical days in Makupo village. It is amazing to see how fast we have adapted as a group to our new surroundings.

Sunny Sunday

By Annabelle Lafrechoux

On this first Sunday in Malawi, a fraction of our group chose to attend a mass at a nearby Church. The ceremony was strongly based on song. As a matter of fact, a variety of choirs from the surrounding area took turns singing. It was impressive to see the passion and talent of these various groups. The harmony was remarkable and the projection was imposing. Even though I couldn’t understand the lyrics since they were in Chichewa, I felt a definite emotional response to them. It was a refreshing experience. Even if I am not a particularly religious person, taking the time to reach into one’s spirituality is always enjoyable. In the least, it provokes reflection.

Later in the day, we ended up walking to the site for the future school. It was really inspiring to see what the future could bring. It really gave me a renewed motivation for our project. It was said later in the day that in reaction to the difficult life style of the people of the village we might feel that the project was too abstract and would seem futile. But seeing this site really made me feel optimistic about the nature of our project. The school will be as concrete as possible and we will be creating the heart of it along with the people of Malawi.

Overall, this Sunday was enjoyable and inspiring. I hope yours was as well.