(from Thursday)

Sitting at Manilow’s Inn in Petite Riviere des Nippes, watching the sun as it sets over the ocean. Just got out of taking a hot shower in my hotel room and eating a delicious meal of conch with Bill and Benaja. Feeling a little bit like a queen right now!

We got to Petite Riviere at about 9:30 this morning and headed right into the school. I stupidly forgot a whole bunch of chargers in Darbonne- that’s the main problem right now, though we have enough chargers to last us if we use the chargers that were already at the school here, too. The principal of the school is nice. We convinced him to allow the kids to take the computers home, or to at least try it for a couple of weeks. Bill’s primary concern was it being unsafe for the children to have expensive materials with them- maybe they could get attacked. But it seems like that is not a problem here so even Bill was all right with letting the computers go. It was funny that the principal said that a lot of the children didn’t have electricity so there would be no need for them to take them home. Then, in class, a number of students went up to the mentors and said they had electricity and could they bring chargers with them so they could charge them at home? I smiled when I saw them do that.

Sun just went down. Beautiful sky, beautiful water.

The Petite Riviere pilot is quite different from the Darbonne pilot. First of all, the Petite Riviere mentors went ahead and trained the other five mentors and got the forty kids together. This may have been a miscommunication on our part. What they were supposed to do was have a class with five mentors and twenty kids, then after those six weeks, train five new mentors who would give class to twenty new students. When we came into class, we asked everyone to just do class as usual so that we could observe. It seemed like the group leader, Michena, taught the whole class in a single classroom for forty students, while everyone else walked around and tried to help.

I was taken back to teaching Sugar to 90 São Tomean students in a single classroom and thanked my past experiences because I already felt like I knew a bunch about the Petite Riviere pilot that hadn’t been covered before. The class was pretty rough- not many students would listen to Michena because other mentors were walking around trying to explain things at the same time. The class was supposed to start at noon but it didn’t really start until around 1pm, and even then it didn’t end until maybe 3 or 3:30 and they didn’t even open up Etoys until around 2:30! Benaja and Bill and I were sitting in the back, putting numbers on computers but mainly just shaking our heads. We had a lot of work to do.

Yet at our mentor meeting (which we instated for mentors in Petite Riviere too- 30 minutes after class and 15 minutes of planning before class) everyone was very receptive to our input. I think they were grateful to finally have all the computers they needed. It also seems like they’ve tried to talk to the principal about things they needed and he hasn’t really listened much. I tried not to preach, but we did cover a few topics. Here’s what we covered:

1) Brief introductions of ourselves and to our new mentors
2) Talked about how class went- mentors have a number of computer problems, often trackpad issues. We talked about how to resolve those trackpad issues and also scheduled a repair class for Sunday at 2pm
3) Made a concrete schedule for class- mentor meeting at 12:15, class at 12:30 until 2pm, then mentor meeting directly afterward. Broke up the class into two separate sections of 20 students with groups of five mentors (a mix of old and new mentors) in each. We put Michena and Alan with three new mentors and Antoine, Pepe and Jean Jean in a group with two new mentors. We asked the other group (not Michena’s group) to elect a group leader tomorrow. That person will be responsible for keeping in communication with Waveplace and with the other mentors.
4) Discussed the importance of attendance. Michena is already taking attendance of the students and had a strict policy that if they miss more than two classes in the six week period, they are pulled from the class.
5) Talked about Waveplace, the pilot, and what happens after the pilot. The importance of communicating with each other and with Waveplace so we can have concrete proof that the pilot is working and that we want to expand it!
6) Gave notebooks and pens to mentors. We like having them write for about five minutes after class so that they can keep track of what they did each day and add notes/questions/etc.
7) Distributed Etoys lessons, saying that they need to complete one lesson per day in order to stay on track with the six week program. They had only gotten to lesson 3 so far so we said, starting now, one lesson needs to be completed per day.

I think that’s it. There were a few questions but for the most part everyone was in agreement. We all walked out of school together. I miss my Darbonne friends but it was so good to see all the Petite Riviere people again!

Benaja made some enemies today standing up for us. Apparently a motorcycle taxi tried to overcharge us by about 66% more than what we normally pay, and Benaja stood up for us because that’s not what we paid the first time (we paid 15 goudes going one way and he wanted us to pay 25 going the other way). Some people across the street yelled at him and told him he was a bad Haitian because they saw us with lots of money and told Benaja that we paid 100 goudes last time and didn’t even ask for change, and he was trying to keep the motorcycle taxi from making his money. It was frustrating for us because we certainly didn’t pay anyone 100 goudes for a motorcycle ride, and on top of that we just felt unwelcome right off the bat from these people. We brushed it off but Benaja was pretty angry. He talked to Michena and Antoine and it looks like they’re going to talk to those people themselves.

But in many ways I understand these people’s pains. They are used to being second class citizens in their own country. When they see a white person, that person 99.9% of the time has money, and why not try to help yourself out when 10 goudes is really nothing anyway? Yet it’s certainly not a way to treat a newcomer, and particularly unwise to judge people by the color of their skin. We as citizens of the USA certainly know a lot about that…

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