Thursday, July 16, 2015

Back in PST Again

I’m so excited to welcome the new Peace Corps Trainees for the Education Sector! They arrived last month and started their Pre-Service Training (PST) here in Malawi. Here is a photo of them that was taken at the airport when they first arrived:

Some of the currently serving PCVs in my group were invited help facilitate the training for the new arrivals, including me! So a couple weeks ago I headed up to the Kasungu District in the Central Region and found myself back in PST again.

The house I stayed at in the training village had three rooms, with a mud floor, an outdoor kitchen and chim, and an outdoor straw bathing area. No electricity here, so I had to heat my bath water and cook over a charcoal mbaula. Which I learned how to do that week, with the help of my fellow PCV Tally, who was also facilitating sessions with me. She is a mbaula expert, and makes excellent peanut butter cookies over her fire. I plan on trying that back at my site soon. Here is a photo of my morning pot of water for coffee and hard-boiled eggs.

The Chichewa group near the house I was staying in let me sit in on their language classes a few days during the week when I didn’t have to facilitate technical sessions. It was nice to get a refresher, and I was able to pay more attention to the whys of the grammar rules instead of just the whats since I know more now. They were learning about how to answer basic questions about themselves like where they are from and where they live. That will be really useful for them because I get asked those things in Chichewa all the time. I can say, “Ndimachokera ku America mu mzinda wa California” (I am from America, from the state of California) in my sleep.

The week I was there was heavy on technical sessions, so Tally and I had a lot of work to do, along with the PC Technical Trainers Denis and Geoff. We worked with the trainees on Malawian curriculum and syllabi, lesson planning, teaching in classrooms with limited resources and student-centered learning. We also did a session on teaching English as a second language. Both Tally and I are science teachers at our sites, but really all PCVs are English teachers because we teach our classes in English. We provided tips on delivering content in a way that ESL speakers can understand, like making sure to speak slowly and clearly, writing things down and defining new words. As someone learning a new language myself, I know how important those concepts are. I often wish people here would use some of those methods with me.

Here is a photo of the trainees in the hall during a session. The facilitator is our Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) for Education, Michael Kumwenda.

This was a really fun week to facilitate PST because besides all the technical sessions, we also had a luncheon. All the host mothers brought in lunches for the trainees to share with everyone, and the trainers prepared dishes to share as well. It was a basically a big potluck. There were so many dishes to try. Tally made chocolate brownies which were delicious. I also had nsima because I don’t get to eat it very often anymore. There were also cooked greens, potatoes, cooked cabbage, rice, beans and lots of other local dishes.

The trainees are a wonderful group. I had so much fun spending time with them, and I am looking forward to working alongside them as fellow PCVs. They find out their sites tomorrow and they will swear-in at the end of August. And the PC wheel keeps on turning...

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