Friday night I got a grand total of 3 hours of sleep. Saturday, however, I got back to my apartment and slept from noon to 6. Then I went to bed at 10 and got up at 7h30. I came home and slept from 12 to 1h30. Then out again, but home and back in bed by 10 and up at 7. I didn’t even have any dreams, which is more or less unusual for me (faithful taker of my malaria prophylaxis that I am).
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about my English Club. “My” English Club. Haha. They’ve been going strong for almost three years now, and I’ve only been with them for a few months. I actually don’t do much. Each week, a different member plans a lesson and leads. I’m there for moral support, help with pronunciation, and occasional clarification of obscure grammar rules. The lessons are usually pretty good. More speaking and vocab. Less obscure grammar.
The club was formed when some friends got together and realized that, while their written English was pretty good, they’d had little occasion to practice speaking. They had no *comfort* with the language. So they formed this club for speaking practice. It’s mostly well-educated adults. There are a few high school students there, but they’re adults too (oh, the education system in Benin!). It’s also mostly men (oh, the sexism in Benin!), but there are a few woman who show up pretty regularly.
The sexism in the club drives me nuts, but it’s friendlier sexism than I see elsewhere, and there are enough mouthy women in there who take care of things when they get out of control that I don’t sweat it too much.
It’s a lot of fun. I really like the people involved, mostly because they don’t want anything from me but my presence. That, and I feel comfortable with them. We meet Sunday mornings, which mean’s they’re a little more casual, a little more relaxed, and so on. I’m “one of them” instead of “their Peace Corps Volunteer,” which goes a long way in these parts.
Anyway, the point is that they’re my favorite activity so far, and I’m stating to work with another English Club (this one at the economics school here in Cotonou) later this week. I dunno. I mean, my primary project is interesting (more often than not, anyway), but it’s these smaller things that really make up for the long hours spent in front of my computer. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a chance to work with people like this again. That’s one of the best things about being a Peace Corps Volunteer. There are so many occasions to just help, and it’s my job to do it. And that fucking rocks.