Yesterday, my school had a nine hour staff meeting. Yes, eight hours straight of sitting on wooden wooden chairs listening to conversations in rapid-fire Swahili from anything from student performance, to how much the school should pay to take care of the pigs, to who would be responsible for the school store, to the importance of making sure the students sweep the sidewalks everyday...since they spoke in Swahili, I understood about 1/2 of the first two hours and then stopped listening because it got too tiring to try to keep up, so for six more hours, understood nothing.
Most of the time I try to keep up a "life is great" front for my blog, my friends, and my family. Warning...this post is not like that. Life in Peace Corps is like a bipolar journey. The good times are good and the bad times really suck. There are things about Tanzania and about Peace Corps that I still haven't adjusted too and probably won't. The BS of working for a government agency, the differences in culture sometimes really get to me and I've been stuck in a bit of a rut ever since I returned from America. Most of the time something little happens that pulls you our of a rut: it could be a good conversation with a Tanzanian, it could be a student saying something nice, it could be just getting out of site for a day or two. Although all of those things have happened, they have not yet been sufficient to pull me out of my rut.
So, as I was sitting in the painfully long meeting the other day, I finally came to terms with what I was trying to deny. I really hate teaching. I hate it. I love my students, I love the people at my school, but I hate teaching. I hate standing up there 8 periods a day, 5 days a week and talking about addition and subtraction. I know part of it is that I am teaching way too many periods per week (36) and I know that part of it is that I am teaching math...a subject that I have very little interest in. Maybe it would be a little better if I was teaching 24 periods of biology. But I'm not, and I hate teaching, I hate marking, I hate staff meetings, I hate preparing lessons.
As this dawned on me yesterday, I starting thinking about the 8 months that I have left. 8 months is a long time if you don't enjoy your job. This is what I was thinking about for 7 hours yesterday.
I got home from the staff meeting and was tired, hungry, frustrated. I started using my water heater to heat up some water for a bath and cook Orion and myself some dinner. About five minutes after I got home, the electricity went out...so my electric heater and hot plates didn't work. Since Wednesday is usually my market day and we had a 9 hour meeting, I didn't have enough charcoal to light my charcoal jiko. So I took a cold bath (a cold bath in Africa sounds nice, but it can get pretty cold were I am...so its not) and came to term with the fact that I was going to drink milk for dinner. 5 minutes after i took my cold bath, I was shivering, unhappy, and the lights returned. Africa's way of telling me to screw myself.
At this point I was about 80% sure that I was going to ET...Peace Corps way of saying quit. I was so frustrated. I called my parents and talked to them. I typed up my resume so that I could send it to people and hopefully get a job before returning home, and I went to bed in a terrible mood, and woke up equally as disheartened and frustrated. I went to school like normal, dreaded entering the classroom as normal, although I had a lot of fun talking and hanging out with chai, still it wasn't enough to pull me out of the funk. I left school early with the intent of sending my resume to different people.
On my way to town, I called one of the volunteers in my area and ranted to her for a while. She gave me some perspective. I joined the Peace Corps to help other people, in what ever way they thought they needed to be helped. Although I am not thrilled about teaching math and fail to see the importance of logarithms when 12% of the population has HIV, they think it is important. It's not about me. I know that if I go home now, I will kick myself as soon as I step off the plane. If I stick it out for another 8 months, I will at least be able to say that I finished what I started. If I stick it out another 8 months, I'm pretty sure I will, eventually, come out of this extended rut.
So as much as I miss my family. As much as I miss my home. As much as I dislike teaching. For now, I am here. For now, I'm not ready to call it quits.
3 years ago