Monday, January 26, 2015

Outside of Geneva and inside Lyon.

It was about time we got on over to Nyon, Switzerland to see your friends Ji and Knut. We spent some quality time with the pair stuffing our faces in both food and beverage. We even made time to drive over to Lyon, France to see what the fuss was regarding Lyonnaise cuisine. Below is the evidence in pictures and words.

Getting ready for our first outing, the supermarket. Geneva is pricy, and our short stint at the grocery store, the bill was what the average Ethiopian makes a year. 
Conflicted graffiti in Nyon.
Nyon provides many nice views for a morning walk. 
May I suggest Château de Nyon for your next wedding.
View from the Château. 
Wreck your Saturday and add some kilos to your life with cheese fondue and a bottle of white wine. If it were in front of me now, I would do it all over again.  
Sure, if you can't afford dating. 
Nyon is teaming with visual artists. A fine example of one. 
Lake Geneva on a pleasant afternoon.
Future Olympian ice skater  in training. 
A drive up the hill from Nyon has a nice view of Mont Blanc. 
Good thing I got to witness recycling day. 
We change the N for the L and drove over to Lyon, France to do shopping and eating.  
The old town sounded like the perfect place to camp out. 
Up the hill was La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. 
 La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière
Scenic Lyon. 
We partially cheated, we rode the funicular up to the Basilica, but walked back down. 
A Christmas market isn't complete without a ZZ Top cover band.  
What the French think Mexican food is. 
Apparently falafel is legal in Lyon.  
Lyon at sunset (4:30 pm)
Another view
Knut wanted to have a nightcap before heading back to the hotel. He not only found a bartender to play air guitar with, but the bartender used the expresso machine to simulate a fog machine at the beginning of each song. I was treated to a nice air concert of Metallica and Sepultura. 
Ana and I roamed around Lyon and wandered into a museum or two. 
We returned back to Nyon for the Miss Cheese competition. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Somewhere in Ethiopia: Week Without Walls

Somewhere in Ethiopia might seem like an unusual title. In a sense we loaded students onto a bus and headed south of Addis Ababa to where both bananas and false bananas grow.

To paraphrase what my school director once told me: people don't choose to work in Africa for the money and glory, we come here to help. Our school prides  itself in being a community; as in we all work hard to better our collective global community.

Our trip way down south to a location that is barely a dot on the map to help out a community school that teaches both adults and children wasn't all peaches and cream. We woke up before sunrise and worked nonstop until nightfall. Our students faced challenges such as language barriers, sleeping on the floor with 25 of your closest friends, and of course teaching student designed and lead workshops to groups of children.

As a veteran teacher, I was challenged by my expectations and perceptions. I had the opportunity to experience and witness learning on a different level. Imagine teaching:
• Little to no resources
• Not being able to drink water in front of children because they don't have water and eat infrequent meals.
• Students who wear the same clothes everyday because that is all they have.
And that is just the starting point. On the return trip back to Addis, we discussed our new perspective of what it means to be privileged.

On the way down to Common River Community.
One tukul for the boys and one for the girls...the teachers even got their own.
At the end of dinner, the hyenas started showing up on the compound.
Our students designed and prepared breakfast and dinner.  
Stirring the Witches' Brew. 
Walking students to class. 
One of the classrooms.  
Teaching arts and crafts to first graders. 
Using glue.
The compound was lush with many varieties of flowers. 
The school cooked us lunch each afternoon. 
One of the cooks.
The stove.
Cutting carrots
This bird has its' eye on a goat.
Classrooms.
On Facebook I called this shot a "second grade mosh pit" it was really a game our students taught the children.
Another game. 
The school's crow.
I didn't really teach, I mainly consulted and offered feedback to my students who taught lessons.
Injera! 
There are women adult classes in the afternoon. While one group learned how to make menstrual pads (sponsored by our student's e-pad group) another group played volley ball. Our school brought new uniforms and balls. Some of the village ladies were quite competitive. Ages ranged from late teens to elderly. 
A couple of the local kids thought some of our students with long straight hair needed a new do.  
There was cooking then there was washing the dishes for 70 people.  
The hat project might seem a bit simple and elementary, but it was a hit. 
Offering positive reinforcement. 
Community building
I escaped the compound one morning only to find a Japan fence.
Packing out.  
The students of Common River Community gather for our farewell speeches. 
Our students.
We spent our last evening together at cabins on the shore of Lake Langano. The site reminded me of northern New Mexico. 
While the kids showered and hit the beach to wind down before an evening of writing reflections, I took a nice little walk. 
A colleague relaxing and reading on the beach. 
The smiles say it all.