Science camp ended up being awesome and totally worth it. I had a team of 4 girls – Justine, Roukieta, Salimata, and Edwige; our team (as dubbed by our overly forceful, always right, never present facilitator/homologue) was the Etalons (the Stallions, the Burkina soccer team). At first the girls were silent, not responding to eye contact or direct questions or pleas for input. But, beautifully, over the week they started talking, one by one. Roukieta was clearly dominant and loud, but by the end when we were writing our poster for the science fair even Salimata (the youngest and shyest) was finding ways to get her opinion in. The experiment and write up itself – dissolving sugar into hot, warm, and cold water – was painful in the extreme, but talking to them about their classes, answering questions, and demonstrating the Macarena and YMCA were fantastic and unbelievably touching. I totally admire teacher PCVs for their patience with the kids all day every day, but I now better understand the rewards that make it worth it. For example – it takes an incredibly long time for even a 9th grader to write down a sentence, especially if it must be formulated independently and not just copied (although even taking direct dictation was very very slow). But when they suggest ways of keeping variables constant without prompting when setting up your experiment or smile talking about dissection or making circuits light up – you can't help but smile and feel proud.
The 38 kids took 2 courses a day, each about 2 hours plus a 30 minute break in the middle. They had a health lesson for an hour 3 mornings of the 5, and an astronomy lesson on 2 nights. The whole thing of course had it's ups and downs, with issues sprouting up left and right (late meals, building showers for the kids, water shortages, very late transport arrival, forgotten pre-tests, egotistical counterparts, too many PCVs, illnesses). But in true PC fashion it didn't seem to phase us, we just kept finding work-arounds.
We left on the morning of the 9th, on Visionaire where we managed to rent out the entire bus and get it to come pick us up at the high school instead of carting the kids and our stuff to their station. Luba, Emilie, Marisol and myself didn't have kids to deal with so we walked out to the main street and caught a cab to the House. For the first time in about the past 6 months, it wasn't full! I got to talk to Wendy, who had just gone to a fistula conference, and then had lunch with Wendy, David B, Emilie, and Jose. Went shopping for veggies and had borscht for dinner courtesy of David – I expected to not like it but was pleasantly surprised. This is the volunteer who makes pot stickers from scratch in village, approximately 1000x the amount of effort I put into most of my meals, and I can't wait to ask him for recipes to add to my cookbook.