“Ehh I don’t know.” I’ve never had a good answer to that question.
“Rap, R&B, Hip Hop, Country?”
“Anything except Country. I guess mostly Rock. What do you like?”
“It has to have expletives?”
"Yeah it’s the best. They say all kinds of shit” he said chuckling.
I think I finally got through to Mwanafunzi and he understands the point of my research project and why it’s important. We interviewed five mothers today bringing the total number of interviews to eight. We’ve still got a long way to go if we’re going to get a good sampling.
Unfortunately the rest of the day wasn’t quite as productive. I had made arrangements on Tuesday to meet with the librarian of Kaaga Primary today, Friday, and all of the 8th Grade to introduce the Reading Stars program and teach her how to run it. Two classes meet each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and it’s too much of a time commitment for me to be there running it every day. Since the beginning, the plan was for me to introduce Reading Stars to a few classes and then pass it on to the librarian to continue.
We had delayed meeting for a few days because I had other commitments and she was going to be absent one of the days. When I arrived this morning she told me to wait while she got the English teacher for 8th Grade. I wasn’t sure why she was getting another teacher when I was supposed to be training her, but I figured they’d both be attending. I was sent off to the library with the English teacher and the librarian never showed up. I introduced the program and had the students sign up by writing their names on cards which they'll use to collect stickers after they read books.
After class I talked to the English teacher and asked if it would be possible to pass the program on to her. She informed me that there are 7-10 English teachers for Grades 4-8 (the grades involved in the program). She told me I should come back and introduce Reading Stars to each of the ten classes and train all of the teachers to run it. I knew that would never work. It would be such a mess to have 10 different people running the program and sharing the same materials. I thought the librarian was supposed to be present at all of the library lessons, isn’t that why she gave me a schedule of classes in mid-September when I first explained the program to her?
I was determined to make Reading Stars work after all of the time and effort I put into it. I decided if my only option was to train all of the teachers, then that’s what I was going to do.
“Didn’t you already talk to the teachers of the classes you showed the project to?” the English teacher asked.
“No, there were no teachers there when I introduced it.”
“Their English teachers should have been there.” Strange…
“Well they weren’t so I’ll start Monday and explain Reading Stars to all of the classes next week. I can show the teachers how to run it at the same time.”
“Next week they have exams. You can start a week from now.”
Great, another delay. I thought I was going to pass it off this morning and not have to worry about it again. I can’t help but feel like after every step I take forward I get pushed back a few. I’ve already been here over a month but progress has been slow. I may be working on a number of projects but it doesn’t seem like I have much to show for them. I obviously can’t expect to show up here and in a few months’ time make a major impact, but I guess that’s still my goal. Maybe I just need a little reassurance that my projects are actually helping people. Hopefully I’ll see some positive results soon!
We’re already halfway into the term and the students are supposed to read a minimum of ten books to win a prize (most read 1-2 per week in their library class). I’m going to have to make some adjustments.
I brought a brand new keyboard to Makena Textiles today to start their computer class. A number of keys didn’t work on their old one and after spending over two hours trying to fix it I finally caved and bought another one.
The office was significantly cleaner since the last time I’d been in there.
“It looks great in here.”
“We cleaned up” she said, grinning.
I plugged in the new keyboard, the software loaded, and only half of the keys worked. Great! We did our best with the keys that did work.
I had underestimated how difficult it would be to teach people who have never touched a computer before to use one. There are so many things I took for granted. Even turning on the computer was a major task and it took a few tries by each of the two women before they’d mastered it. They kept asking how to “open” the computer when they got confused about how to turn it on.
Next I taught them how to open a program. Moving the mouse proved tricky and they contorted their hands and wrists in all sorts of uncomfortable positions trying to move it around. They got a real kick out of learning to use the backspace and delete buttons, especially after I showed them how to highlight and delete large portions of text. And that was about all we accomplished in an hour. I think my dreams of transferring their handwritten records to the computer and eventually having them help maintain their website will remain just that, dreams. I’m trying to stay optimistic regardless.