Niger Summer Mission 2011 – Aug 5

The last day of training in Tsibiri.  A long week for the teachers being trained to be away from home and family; for some it was to review what was learned a year ago and gain new skills, for others it was brand new.  In both cases, it was clear that as mentally exhausting as learning the vagaries of Word, Excel and Windows in general, the participants were glad for the opportunity.  Beth installed a drawing program called Pixie.  A simple program intended for young students.  The teachers themselves had fun playing around with it, but immediately saw the value Beth hoped they would: the mouse manipulation needed for Pixie would make working in other programs that much easier because using the mouse would become easier.   It also offered a chance to have some fun and not worry about “messing up”.

On a personal note: we celebrated my birthday today.  The team chipped in to give me a really nice African-style shirt.  Yellow, blue and black with feathery waves and lines.  I love it.  I appreciate their thoughtfulness, especially so far from home.  Honestly, I’ve been thinking about getting such a shirt, but wrestled with the feeling of being a poser if I were to wear it at home.  Given as a gift by the people I am working with, it feels more authentic.  Granted I’ve only been here a week, but I will wear at home knowing that it will represent the year I spent my birthday working with a group of people from the US and Niger to support the hopes and aspirations of children through education.

Tomorrow: Zinder.  The furthest point east that we will travel, approximately three to four hours from Maradi.  We go to Zinder to set up a new computer lab.  In Tsibiri we trained in the one volunteers installed last summer.  This year we get to bring computers to Zinder for the first time.  We will be there Saturday and Sunday, returning to Maradi on Monday before heading back to Niamey on Wednesday.  One thing I have learned this trip: in a country this big, with less than optimal roadways, one has to accept that a big part of the job is traveling.  And frankly, every moment spent bouncing around a bumping road in the backseat has been worth every moment we have spent with the people here.