This is a guide for my family and friends about my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, Africa. I teach English as foreign language to high school students in Boa Vista, Cape Verde. Also as a disclaimer, the comments expressed here are solely of the author and do not represent the United States Peace Corps, the American Government, or any other governing body.

Friday, April 27, 2007

17th April 2007

I’ve assigned a section of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” to my 11th grade class. They are only level III English, but they are fairly smart kids, and tend to pick stuff up fairly quickly. Leland used this particular story in one of his adult English classes and it seemed to go over fairly well. I though it particularly bold of me to try it with a level III high school class, but so far, it seems they are liking it. It’s a little deviation from the ordinary at least. The section of the story is Chapter 2 of the novel: The Glorious Whitewasher. In this section, Jim, the slave, has a few lines of dialogue that are quite difficult to discern, but remarkably, the class was able to figure out what English words he would be speaking. I was actually quite proud of them. I hesitated a little, explaining the language of the black slave, to a room full of students who were only sitting there because the slave trade began in the first place. Their ancestors just happened to be “lucky” enough to not have made it to the Americas. I put “lucky” in parentheses only because it’s not as though they were treated any better. Cape Verde, in the slave era, was a rest stop for the Portuguese slave traders. They stopped here to regroup after kidnapping the West Africans. Some of the kidnapped were left here to serve the Portuguese working here permanently. They may not have made it to the American horrors, but they were slaves here none-the-less, although I get the feeling it wasn’t quite so severe.

In a semi-related topic, a group of people associated with Wesleyan University (Leland’s alma mater, coincidentally) is coming tomorrow to interview any 10th, 11th or 12th grader who exhibits a fairly strong grasp of the English language and a strong background in some sort of artistic expression. This includes, theater (both acting and technical), singing, dancing, visual art, writing, or photography. The group is selecting various Cape Verdians from around the country to go to Connecticut to participate in a 5 week workshop at Wesleyan University to expand their English and artistic base. Tomorrow the representatives will come, and interview the students who show interest. I have encouraged my 11th graders to at least gain the experience of interviewing, as this is a valuable skill regardless. I have one or two who will try and who I think have a fairly decent shot of getting this position. I somehow find the whole thing just a little bit too good to be true. Opportunities like this are so rare, that when they do occur, it’s almost as though they are so delicate you don’t want to believe in them too much. For at least one of my students to make it to America to have the opportunity to express their culture through artistic means is just such a great thing for them, and I truly hope that I know a student or two who makes it. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for these kids. They dream about going to America, and for a deserving student to have the chance to experience a college-style life, even if for only 5 weeks, just makes me happy and hopeful that they’ll make it. Well by the time this is posted, we shall know how it went, and if my bad feelings of it being too good to be true have any basis or not. I’m hoping not. Wish my students luck!! Some of them really deserve this.


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