Freetown definitely proved a tough place to be. It seemed I was constantly sick or in the hospital and if not, it seemed there was always some roadblock getting in the way of progress at school. Nonetheless, things did happen, though they were very small and probably don't make that much of a difference. Here are some of them anyways:
The skylights that I had been working so hard to get approved finally were and the difference they've made in the classrooms is literally night and day. Check it out!
Class 4/5 before (on a rainy/cloudy day):
Ibrahim putting in the skylight:
Class 4/5 AFTER: :) :) :)
Nursery Class before and after:
Before I left I also had some chairs and desks built for the the kiddos in Class 6, who are rather large people and have to sit in these teeny tiny seats meant for nursery class. Here's the before and after of those:
I also managed to arrange a two day session at school on alternative forms of punishment. It took a little convincing but with some built-in incentives and a few meetings beforehand, they all finally agreed. The sessions went splendidly and though I'm not convinced any of the changes will actually be implemented in the classroom, it was at least nice for the teachers to hear from someone who wasn't a tiny white girl.
All in all Salone was a fabulous learning experience, one I wouldn't trade for anything, and despite all the setbacks and motorcycle crashes and ebola, I will miss it. Freetown is an exciting place to be; full of life, good friends, good food, beautiful beaches, and so much potential. Before I left everyone kept asking when I would return. I told them I have to be in school for a few years, but that I would come back as soon as I could :) Goodbye sweet sweet Salone!
SO, from Freetown I flew to London, and meet up with Sound Seekers to debrief and have a meeting with some of their projects committee people. I also made sure I went to see Platform 9 3/4, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and others :) A few days in London was certainly not enough, but it was better than nothing! Before this trip I had never been out of an airport in Europe (though I feel I've been in SO many of them!). London is a gorgeous city and one I most definitely want to go back to when I can (mostly because it's absolutely FILLED with Mini Coopers). Here's some snaps from London:
Where the magic happens
"But Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says
Platform 9 3/4. There's no such thing, is there?"
Buckingham Palace. I believe the queen was home, too.
So I'm in Michigan now, and will be here for just a short while before setting out with Maliza for Maryland, then South Carolina, then Maryland again before finally heading up to Boston. I finally have a place to live in Boston now, thanks entirely to my incredible brother for house hunting and dealing with realtors and just being generally wonderful. I'm not sure how much time I'll have to blog once I get started in school, but if I can find some, I will.
Thanks to all my avid readers, all two of you (you know who you are)! And thanks to everyone in my life who has helped me make it all the way here: to 27 and lived-in-Africa and starting grad school and just basically having a pretty incredible not-much-to-complain-about life. Love you all loads.
Cheers and happy August!
~ Shub :)