(from Sunday)

With a stomach full of delicious Haitian coffee, I turned around under the dome of Manilow’s inn and saw Antoine waiting for me. He grinned his big toothy grin and waved as he sat by the inn’s fountain. It’s Saturday, which means market day. Despite the fact that Bill, Benaja and I have all tried to explain to Antoine that I am happily in another relationship, Antoine doesn’t seem to get it. So we have a date today to go to the market and I can’t refuse because he didn’t really even ask me if I wanted to go.

I take Bill along.

The market is a street market. It stretches along the road that we usually walk to school. But this time it is just filled with people- people selling mangos, fresh meat, fish, soap, beef bouillon cubes, clothes, you name it. People milling through the street- and a few choice motorcycles and also one bulldozer for added effect. Antoine points out various items and tells me the names in Creole. “Zabriko,” he says, pointing to the biggest apricots I’ve ever seen. We buy three of them and head to his backyard, where his sister peels and cuts them for us. I’ve never eaten fresh apricot before so I had no idea they were this enormous- coconut-sized or maybe cantaloupe-sized. But it’s also entirely possible that these are just mondo Haitian apricots. We would never know the difference.

After the market, we head to school. Bill goes to shoot video of this amazing kid who wires his own remote-control cars. He was in the laptop program last year, and even though he doesn’t have a laptop now, he’s still a mechanical genius. “We’ve gotta get this kid a laptop,” Bill says, showing me the footage he took. I nod my head, stunned. I think about if he were in the USA. He’s 15 years old and I’m certain he would already have some killer internship at a lab. Instead he lives just outside of Petite Riviere’s center. He wires these toy cars using the metal from soda cans. He has headlights and tail lights on the cars. But he can only run them every once in a while, because he can’t afford batteries.

Class goes smoothly again. Michena’s group has fallen behind a lesson and they’re still doing lesson 4. Jean Jean (the new leader of Group 2)’s group plugs through lesson 5 and almost finish it entirely. They spend a LOT of time “reviewing” material- and by reviewing I mean going through the entire past lesson all over again for about 30 minutes! At the mentor meeting we talk about how such a long review will never allow them to teach enough class, and they need to cut it down. We also talk about how to encourage kids to help one another. Often there will be one kid who totally gets it, one kid who sort of gets it and one kid that doesn’t get it at all, and they’ll all be sitting right next to each other. By encouraging the children to help each other, they can be a much stronger class.

Although Michena is great outside of class, we’re having a little bit of trouble convincing her to listen to us in class. She likes doing things her way- she tells the students to come an hour earlier and leave an hour earlier, she assigns them extra work, she’s very strict with them. Today she told her students that they were leaving at 12 because she had to do her laundry that day. Unfortunately, we had a very important mentor meeting that day that she knew about, and besides that point, class ran until 12:45. We try to be open to her new ideas but she needs to know that she is taking away from other people’s experiences if she tries to do everything herself. Benaja spoke to her and she ended up coming to our mentor meeting after all. I think she is slowly easing into the idea of this program, and it’s difficult for her to surrender control and be open to the new ideas that Bill and I are presenting. But the “Three Bs” are all pretty confident that she’ll be rolling with our flow in just a couple more short days, because everything else is working extremely well.

Bill had a fabulous idea today of creating a sort of lending library with the extra 20 laptops from last year’s pilot that are currently sitting in the principal’s office. He wasn’t very keen on the kids taking the laptops home but after three classes everything is still going very smoothly in that regard. On Monday, at the mentor meeting that we hope he will attend, we’re going to talk to him about letting us develop this library. One of the mentors can take the helm. The basic idea is that students who don’t have computers can sign them out at this library and take them home. A way to get Bill’s genius kid using a laptop even though his pilot was over last year.

Alan and Pepe were here today- it was great to see them. One of the new mentors, Cassandra, was not. Another new mentor, Sheila, came quite late to class. We know that Pepe had a funeral to go to and Alan’s father is very, very sick, so we excused them. But we did talk about the fact that mentors need to be coming to class everyday or it doesn’t make sense to pay them for the classes they don’t come to. The program is short and we need them to be there. We can’t be having only four mentors in each group per day (which is what it’s been for a while now).

After class, it was horribly hot, so after some delicious all-sugar-no-high fructose corn syrup-Cokes, and after checking with Manilow to be sure we could have a repair class at his inn tomorrow and that our mentors could use his internet free of charge once per week in order to send Waveplace updates (he said yes to both), Michena, Ben, Bill, Antoine, Pepe and I hit the OCEAN! We swam for at least an hour. At one point, Antoine found the skull of a bull in the water! He picked it up by the horn and we all laughed hysterically. Then Benaja found a mango and we played catch in the water until that mango was ripped to shreds.

Tonight we have plans to go out dancing. I don’t know if it’s true, but I certainly wouldn’t mind.

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