Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mali and the Magic School Bus

Mrs. Frizzle
It's been a little over a month since I returned to the States and I have quickly settled into the Virginia Beach groove.  Exercise at the Rec center with Memaw, trips to TJ Maxx and Target, and visits with family and friends.  I recently stopped by my friend, Heather,'s office (a former teacher) who thought another former teacher of mine at Ocean Lakes, Mrs. Windish, currently teaching at the Global Studies & World Languages Academy, might like to hear from me, too.  She sent an email to see if Mrs. Windish would be interested in me dropping by to talk about my Peace Corps experience in Mali with her internationally-minded students.  While Mrs. Windish's reply was 'Yes!', I do not know who was more excited about the talk - me or her!
With Lady Luck and the Black Swan - OLHS grads and now VBCPS teachers!  So proud!
But before I went to visit Mrs. Windish a cherished American holiday happened- Halloween!  On October 31st, I donned a favorite complet and sat expectantly with a bowl of candy on my front porch.  After a handful of cute kids in costumes treated, a group of teenagers waltzed down the street and I darted into the front yard to unload some of our mini-size Snickers, Almond Joys and Hershey bars on them.  But I decided, since these tricksters were a bit older, to ask a few geography questions before I doled out half my bowl of treats to them.

"Where is Mali?" I ventured to this group of too-cool-for-school teens.  "West Africa!" one of the girls quickly answered.  'Impressive,' I thought.  "What is Mali's capital?" I continued, knowing I would stump the group with this one.  "Bamako!" the girl answered, almost as quickly.  'Jeesh,' I thought.   "What is a major river that runs through Mali?" I finally asked - knowing that, this time, I had them.  "The Niger?" one of the boys in the group offered.  "Goodness!" I said to them, "where do you guys go to school??"  "Plaza Middle," the girl replied.  "Tallwood," said the boy.  'Wow,' I thought - VBCPS is doing their job!

This morning I had the great pleasure of going to Tallwood High School to talk with two of Mrs. Windish's Global Studies classes about my work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali and to see for myself what the Global Studies Academy was like.  If trick-or-treaters can answer questions about Mali at the drop of a candy bar, VBCPS must be doing something right and my visit this morning just confirmed what I already knew - they are!

I was nervous when I started my presentation, but as I talked about Mali, Annie and Esayi and my work in Bamako, not to mention my tall, dark and handsome fiancé, I felt right at home.  I talked about Mali's ethnicities, Malick Sidibé, GIS in Mali (Mrs. Windish is starting a unit on it and asked if I could incorporate it in my presentation) and everything in between!  I loved sharing my experiences with students who were interested (for the most part!).  They posed in-depth questions about Mali on topics as diverse as ethnic divisions and religious freedom to what the stars look like and where Abdoulaye and I want to live when we get married :) 

At the end of the class the students thanked me for sharing my experiences in Mali with them.  "You're going to be a great teacher," one of the students said (she was also the most active-listener I have ever encountered - nodding her head and smiling at me during the whole presentation! - thank you!).   "You remind me of Mrs. Frizzle with your dress and they way you present," another student said.  'Mrs. Frizzle?' I thought.  I think I'll take that as a compliment! :)

                      In case you were missing village, a video from where I lived my first two years

                                      And in case you're nostalgic for the Magic School bus!

Do you want to know anything more about Mali that I haven't already shared?  What do you think is the best school at the beach? :)

(Top Image here)

1 comment:

  1. jennifer, i LOVE the magic school bus!


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