End of Term 2!

Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
Trip End Jul 14, 2007

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Flag of Guyana  ,
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

This past month has been really great, although really hectic and crazy as usual. The end of March also marked the end of Term 2 in schools here, which means we have 2 weeks off for Easter break before starting the last term. I can't believe it's almost the last term already...very scary how fast time flies sometimes. As I get more comfortable living and teaching in Guyana, the time just goes faster and faster.  I am definitely enjoying each minute though, and have learned and gained so much from my experience here. Term 2 finished out well, and my students did pretty well on my cumulative exam. I can definitely see progress in their critical thinking and test-taking skills, which is very exciting for me. Along with teaching science, I really just strive to teach them to learn how to learn, and I think they are catching on. This is one of the most amazing feelings ever and probably the highlight of my whole term.

Besides, quizzes, assignments, group-work, small labs and classwork, I also gave my students a larger project on Conservation and Biodiversity-with focus on the tropical rainforest. I was so excited to teach and talk with them about this topic, and I really think they enjoyed it and could relate to and comprehend the material. Sometimes it's interesting because although they live here in Guyana, they don't realize all the resources and diversity that is here. For example, many students didn't know that Guyana has one of the most untouched jungles in the entire world, that Kaieteur Falls is the highest single-drop waterfall in the world (740 feet), that the number of different types of plants and animals is greater within the tropical rainforest than in any other type of forest, or that the Jaguar (native to Guyana) is an endangered species. But in the end, their projects turned out so amazingly well, and I was seriously so proud of them I almost cried.

So here is a quick rundown of interesting happenings within the last month:

** Sunday, March 4th was a national holiday, Phagwah (or Holi), which is the Hindu Festival of Colors. Generally, Phagwah lasts for two days-On the first day bonfires are lit at night to signify burning Holika. On the second day, known as Dhulandi, people spend the day throwing colored powder and water at each other.
      So at the end of school on the preceding Friday all the students were throwing water on each other and being completely insane. They tried to get me with a huge bucket, but I sprinted away as fast as I could and managed to escape.  Then on Sunday night, we were just hanging out at home and the people from the local shop call up and say, "Hey! Come celebrate Phagwah with us! We're all waiting for you!" So we go walk down to the shop, and as we are approaching it (~ 30m away) we see a mass of very mischievous-looking Guyanese boys coming towards us. The feeling you experience when an extremely large number of Guyanese kids are running at you at full speed with handfuls of unknown substances and buckets is quite an interesting/frightening one. Instinctively, I turn and try to sprint away, but they are fast! I eventually succumbed to being attacked with massive amounts of Phagwah water and colored powders. It actually ended up being hilarious and fun, and we eventually got the boys back as best we could. Afterwards, all of us just hung around the shop, talking and having fun while were all caked in mysterious colored substances. Definitely a great first Phagwah experience.

** The next weekend we met a friend though another mutual friend, who just so happens to be a pilot and own a hangar of airplanes at the regional airport. He flew us out to a place called Lake Mainstay, which is this beautiful resort in the Essequibo.  I was able to sit right next to the pilot, and even got to try flying a little! It was just a little plane, which fit about 7. It took about 40 minutes to get to the place, which was on a gorgeous isolated fresh water lake in the middle of the rainforest. You can usually only get there by plane, so it's very natural and pristine. We spent the day swimming, exploring the area, and just hanging out. He flew us back around sunset, which was absolutely amazing. Definitely the best free day trip I've ever had!

        I'm next to the pilot!!               Lake Mainstay 1    
                               Lake Mainstay 3           Lake Mainstay 2

** For St. Patrick's day Tiffany and I hosted a big get together at our place. Since we live on the school compound, there was lots of good space for festivities like cricket, football (soccer), volleyball, and some traditional Guyanese games. Some of my students actually stopped by-they ended up playing tag on their bikes around the school.

** This year the Cricket World Cup is being hosted by the West Indies, and from March 28 to April 8th all of the games are being played in Guyana. This has been very exciting for everyone here, and actually the new stadium and new huge hotel are located only about 15 minutes from where we live in Friendship. A lot of our friends have come in to watch the games, along with a lot of Europeans...it's a little weird to see so many tourists around. We went to the England vs. Ireland game last Wednesday, which was a lot of fun, but very long...the game lasted from 9am to 5pm.
Cricket!!   Cricket 2   Cricket 3

** Next week we're heading down to Lethem, Guyana for a big Rodeo. Lethem is right on the southern edge of Guyana, right next to Brazil, and I'm pretty excited to see this part of the country. A bunch of us are going down in a big bus, so we'll also get to see a lot of the interior of Guyana, which I'm expecting to be really fascinating.
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