Saturday, September 8, 2007

More from Congo

Mbote Everyone!

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

One of the boxes of books I sent in May has arrived! We are hopeful that the others will show up soon. Many thanks to everyone who has helped with that project. Since the students don’t have text books or reference books for classes, it seems to be common practice for the teachers here to copy extracts of texts from tattered, often outdated books onto the board for the students to copy in their notebooks, thereby creating their own “textbooks”. Books are treasured here. Merci beaucoup!

I am beginning to settle in to my new surroundings, new relationships and new routines. The weather has been cool and wet. The scenery is hilly, lush and beautiful. Fruit trees and thatched-roof huts dot the landscape. When the night is clear, the stars are brilliant. The Sisters are taking good care of me, and I’ve started to meet some of the local people.

I started teaching on Wednesday. This school year I will be teaching fourth, fifth and sixth year English at the girls’ “lycee” for humanities and pedagogy. (This is the roughly the equivalent of Sophomore, Junior and Senior years of high school in the U.S.). I will probably have about forty students in fourth year and twenty each in fifth and sixth year. I am delighted at the “small” class sizes and by the students who are eager to learn. I will also probably spend some time doing music and a bit of English instruction at the preschool. Maybe I can send pictures of that. The three, four and five year olds there are precious!

We’ve decided to keep my teaching load light at the lycee, twelve class hours per week, so that I can assist in the development of some VOICA projects including the completion of construction and the furnishing of the volunteer house, establishing the bakery and coordinating plans for starting the “cyber cafĂ©”. Another VOICA project in progress is a “modern” farm for the production of milk and eggs. We also hope to be able to build a library in conjunction with the computer center. I don’t think that I’ll be bored during my time here.

I will do my best to keep in touch with you via our slow, but existent internet connection during the hours we have electrical current from the big generator (6:00-9:30 p.m.). For now, I can read your e-mail, but can’t respond because pop up are blocked on the convent’s computer, and the computer sees my e-mail response window as a pop up. Sorry! I will respond when I’m able. I do appreciate your e-mails.

I also have a cell phone. The number is supposed to be (from the States): 011-243-081-7477103. I don’t have a voice mailbox, so the phone needs to be on for me to receive messages. For this next week or so I will try to leave my phone on from 6:00 to 9:00 in the evening here, which is 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Colorado time. If you’d like to send a message, you could try then. We’ll see if it works. I think text messages are about 20 cents. I don’t know about calls from the States to Congo/Uganda. From me to you, it costs about 50 cents a minute. I will also give you the convent numbers, just in case you ever need them. Convent cell: 011-243-812006925 Convent fax: 011-871-762838949.

Some of you have asked for the mailing address. The Sisters mail goes to Arua, Uganda, and they pick it up there. Here’s the address:

Patricia Pipkin
c/o Canossian Sisters
P.O. Box 218
Arua, Uganda

They tell me the mail usually gets through eventually

Oh, another practical note: Since the internet connection is slow, please don’t send photo files for now. As much as I would like to see them, photos might take an eternity to download. I also would like to post some pictures here, but for now my words will have to suffice.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support!




The Medina's said...

Hey girl, I hope your getting settled in and enjoyong your new students. What is it like over there across the sea? Alexi Royball send her prayers, her and Selena got to play together the other night at a bbq. She goes to D.A.T.A now and is doing really well. Well have fun and be safe!!!!

Tricia said...

Thanks, Jen! It's great to hear from you! I'm settling in and trying to start my classes with songs. It seems to work pretty well all over the world. Please tell Alexi and Selena hello for me along with all of your clan. It is really beautiful here, and the culture is fascinating. I hope you are well.