9/7/10

Welcome to Bartica

Our WorldTeach Guyana volunteers have now finished their one month in-country training and have arrived at their sites for the year, after sessions covering cross-cultural issues, language, and teaching techniques along with a teaching practicum to prepare them for the job that awaits them! Marek Brzozowski, WorldTeach Guyana volunteer, writes about the end of orientation and his move to his site, Parika, which he and his sitemate Luke reached by speedboat.

Marek's teaching practicum

"Starting this last Monday, we had our teaching practicum. This was a three hour deal in the morning, where we went to Cummings Lodge Secondary School and taught lessons for the children taking remedial classes there. We weren’t entirely sure of the specific reasons as to why the children were there; some seemed almost like they were there simply because it was something to do and kill the time.

We taught in groups of three, and our classes contained anywhere from four students to thirteen. It was interesting to note the difference that even one year makes – students from the lowest form were markedly different from the students one form above them. It was quite the experience in learning about classroom management.

Something else that will take getting used to is the way students address teachers. Here, the students say “Sir/Miss” then the first name. Therefore, I had to get used to be referred to as Sir Marek (though they usually just said Sir Mark). It’s weird, I feel like it sounds like the students are talking to a knight when they address a male teacher.

Once the week of the practicum finished, we had to pack our stuff to prepare for a Saturday departure. Most of the volunteers left on Saturday, with a few remaining around until Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. However, Luke and I were the very first group to leave, at 8AM on Saturday (though since it is Guyana, the taxi didn’t arrive until about 8:30ish)… The trip consisted of a one-hour cab ride to the town of Parika, which is at the mouth of the Essequibo River. Next, we had to take a one-hour speedboat ride, which went south along the river. This took us straight into Bartica, where we met a cab driver that took us to the school.

 packing up the speedboat for the trip

the beach at Bartica

When we arrived at the school, we were met by the super-friendly groundskeeper (Sharma), as well as the super-friendly cook (Beverly). They have been absolutely wonderful, making sure we have settled in well, which includes meals they cook and bring to us. The school is Three Miles Secondary School, and is located three miles out of town. The school itself is brand new, so the classrooms and facilities are absolutely gorgeous. It honestly looks like a new school built in America, and transplanted here. I’m lucky as well, since the IT lab is one of the few rooms in the school with air conditioning (due to the heat buildup of a room full of computers). The IT lab itself will be interesting, as it will require some creativity to get the full use out of the computers. It will be a fun challenge (and I’m being serious, this type of stuff is fun for me).It’s sounding like I’ll officially be teaching IT as well as chemistry, so I’m getting excited for what that will entail.

Bartica as a town is great – it has quite a different vibe than Georgetown. The people here are very mellow and relaxed, and seem to put enjoyment of life as one of the top priorities. Since the town is at the split of two gigantic rivers, there is a beach in town, which I spent some time at on Saturday. Since the town is the last town before the mines, there is quite a mining feel as well."

 Marek with his neighbor

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