Chacun A Son Tour Chez Le Coiffeur

Published by Brian on

Classes have started. Well, sort of. At least some classes have started. This last week was officially the first week of classes, but schedules and what not are more of guidelines around here. For the most part, the kids spent the week clearing the land and getting the school ready after lying dormant for three months. The exception was for students who have to take tests this year, who have started class.

Our school had a bit of an unpredicted difficulty this year. We found out about a week and a half ago that our school director was being transferred to another, larger school in the commune. All school administrators are directly employed by the national government, and they’re the ones who decide which administrators will be where for the year. For some reason it is believed that it is best to wait until right before the start of the school year to actually transfer administrators.

So this at least part of this last week was spent saying goodbye to old director, and welcoming our new director. On Tuesday we had a big farewell ceremony at the school. A lot of the patrons were there, and a guy from the local radio station came to record all of it. Afterwards, he came up and interviewed about the transfer.

The new director was then introduced, and started making the rounds with the parents. Our new director was a philosophy teacher at the big school in our area (because philosophy is a class that high school students take here for some reason), and is also a local politician, the sort-of equivalent to a mayor, for a neighboring town. When I was talking to some other teachers about him, they reassured me that he was a serious man since he “went to school in the Ivory Coast.”

During the ceremony there was one phrase that stood out. As they were introducing our new director, and talking about all of his good qualities, someone summed it up as “chacun a son tour chez le coiffeur,” or “everyone has their turn at the barbershop.” That is to say, as long as you do your part, opportunities will come to you in turn.

Anyways, I’ve met with him a few times since then, and he seems like a good guy. My schedule this year looks a little more like what I’d like (fewer classes from 3-5 in the afternoon, also fewer 8-10AM classes), and so far things at least seem more manageable (smaller classes and more familiar with students).

Build Me Up Buttercup

The other thing that has been happening lately is finally some more movement on my project. As I’ve written before, we’re working on a project now to add classrooms to our school. Currently we have seven classrooms for about 550 students. This isn’t enough. Furthermore, our classrooms are fairly bare-boned, most have dirt floors, and none have walls. Lucky for us school isn’t during the rainy season, because it would be functionally impossible then.

This year we have three classes outside in classrooms made of spare wood and palm leaves, and one class that is without any shelter of any kind. Obviously this isn’t a very good situation, so I’ve been working with the school and (mostly) the parents association on a project to build four new classrooms with walls and floors and everything.

This week we had a couple of things finally move forward on our project. First, the Peace Corps has posted it on its website for fundraising. Right now the parents have committed to paying for just over half of the new building, and I’m going to try and fundraise the other half. So if any of you out there are interested in helping support this project, we’d really appreciate it.

The other news is that we’ve actually started preparing for the building. Students are bringing sand/gravel to the school, the parents have already purchased some concrete, and over the last couple of days the foreman (who for some reason they call an entrepreneur) has come by to start scoping out the site. Things are starting to move a bit, which is good news.


Also I’ve had a few requests for pictures of my shaved head, I’ll post some once I get somewhere with strong enough internet to upload videos.


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