Kenya, Teaching

I’ve been back in Tala for a little over a week now. School was supposed to open on January 5th, but I was still in Ethiopia. I don’t know why it took me so long to notice, but last semester I noticed that neither the students nor the teachers report on time for school. Last semester we started two weeks late, so this time I stayed away for an extra week; nobody cared that I was a week “late” because most of the students and teachers still weren’t even around. Nonetheless, we finally sorted out the class schedule and time table and started today.

I’ll be teaching four classes this semester. Four! Count ‘em:

  1. Two units of Introduction to Programming and Algorithms
  2. One unit of Network Essentials
  3. One unit of Object-oriented Programming

I’ve taught the first two for the past two semesters so it’s not really a big deal, but the last one is a bit new. The course content isn’t so different from the other programming class I teach, but the students are two semesters ahead, so I have to try to cover the topics deeper. I’ve had to create my own notes for these classes so far, which is a pain in the ass, but I guess I did a good job because my students always pass.

Each class is supposed to have four hours per week, but there’s no way I can talk that much. Today I had two classes and I talked for one hour in each class. Two of the classes are with students who I already know from past semesters, but for the new students I always start by telling them, “Hi, my name is Alan. Not ‘Mr. Orth’ or ‘Sir,’ just ‘Alan.’” They like to add titles, but it bugs me. Although I found a gray hair on my head the other day, I don’t have a Ph.D and I’m not fifty, so I’d actually rather they called me “dude” than “Sir” or “Mr!” Hell, most of the students are around twenty years old, and I’m pretty sure at least two or three are older than me.

In other news I bought some new sandals in Tala market the other day. They’re made from recycled tires and they cost me a little less than a dollar. Haha. I had also bought a mop so people were laughing when I was walking home; I was wearing the “new” sandals and carrying my old ones in my hand along with the mop. I guess it’s pretty funny for a couple of reasons, chiefly because the tire sandals are very “local.” I hear that they last forever, though, and they’re tough so no thorns can poke through them. Alright!

Kenya, Rants, Teaching, Travel

I know I’ve been out of communication for over a week, but it’s with good reason. I’ve been traveling all over Kenya for various goodbye parties, circumcision ceremonies, and Christmas celebrations. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Saturday, December 20th: Maasai village called Enkokidongoi for a goodbye party for a few friends.
  • Sunday, December 21st: Back to Tala to wash some clothes.
  • Monday, December 22nd: Back to Nairobi to in order to leave early the next morning to Western Kenya for the Kulechos’ rural home.
  • Tuesday, December 23rd: Mabanga, near the Ugandan border with cousins of the Kulechos because nobody was free to take me to the Kulechos’ farm.
  • Thursday, December 25th: Finally to Chepsaita, where the Kulechos’ rural home is. Bunches of family and villagers were gathering for the slaughtering of a bull for Tash’s brother’s circumcision ceremony.
  • Sunday, December 28th: Back to Nairobi in order to leave for Ethiopia on Monday.

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Kenya, Teaching

Two of my three classes finished today and they’ll take their exams next week. I didn’t have any failures last semester but this time around we had some irregularities. For instance, the students reported to school two weeks late! I don’t know why, but they did. The IT instructors had assumed this meant we’d have two weeks tacked onto the end of the semester but we were wrong to assume. When I thought we were halfway done with the semester we learned that we only had two weeks left. Ahhh! So I had to rush my last assignments, tests, and lectures, but I think I managed OK.

One metric I have is the number of students who correctly answer a certain question on my final test; last semester every student got it incorrect. I’m not sure what I did differently this time, but everyone got it correct. Woohoo! It’s a simple logic-based programming question and I ask them what the following code should print when it is executed: Continue Reading