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Catching up, making up, wrapping up—these are some of the words I think of as I think over the past semester for me here at HAU. This is my fifth year of teaching English here and my fifth time to teach the English I course to the new, incoming university students. It should be getting easier, right? While some parts are easier (thankfully), there are always the unknown variables that make each semester challenging and unique in their own way. This semester there were two situations in particular that were new challenges.

The first was a very interrupted semester due to my leaving for a month in the middle of it. electricity voltage in canada This meant having to do lots of make-up classes before and after the month I was absent. Generally a class is formed with students from one department. They take all their courses together which is supposed to make scheduling easier. I taught three groups this semester: one for Department of Medicine, one for Department of Engineering and a third one a combination of two departments– Ophthalmology and Public Health. Trying to schedule make-up classes is difficult enough but when one group is made up of two different departments with different schedules it’s nearly impossible. Somehow we got most of the make-up classes in which meant some weeks I had six classes to teach instead of three. It made for a very fluid and irregular semester and not the most optimal for learning a foreign language.

The second situation was the size of one of the groups. gas out game rules Most HAU class sizes are 40-50 students. If there are only 20 students they will combine two departments to get around 40 students for the general courses. This is an economic reality in regards to paying professors, which I understand but since I don’t get a salary or any monetary reward for my teaching I try to draw the line and request groups not more than 40. electricity facts for 4th graders To my delight I was asked to teach the new medical students, a group of only about 25. But then I was also asked to take two other groups—the combined departments of 40+ students and a third of the engineering students. Little did I know that the engineering department had admitted over 250 students so my “group C” was about 85 students!

This is where the motto of the university, “facing African realities” takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes a day-to-day choice to do the best you can with what you’re given and what you’ve got at your disposal. Something most Burundians accept with grace and little complaint. But for me it’s been some thing of a trial and error process to figure out how to teach and connect with more students than there was space or chairs for. I’m not sure I ever found it but we made some kind of rapport with each other. gas stoichiometry problems I did hear students speaking more English in class, engaging in the exercises given and telling their classmates to be quiet while I was talking (often one student was translating for others so there was often lots of talk going on). I felt like a celebrity at the end as they all wanted to take a picture with me (wondering where all those pictures will end up).

While I’m glad for the opportunity to teach, I have to admit I’m glad to see the end of this semester with it’s irregular challenges, which I hope not to repeat. I again applaud the students for making the best of their situations. I realize that what was a frustrating semester for me has been a way of life for them, which they accept with humility and handle with grace. Again, I find I am still a student of life and my students have much to teach me.

Most Saturdays are quiet “at home” days for us, to catch up on undone work of the week or plan for the next week’s classes. Recently, a friend of ours organized a Saturday hike to the highest mountain in Burundi, Mt. gas ninjas Heha (elevation 8,759 ft). I was ready to join like a bee to honey, especially because this friend, Dan, was born in Burundi and speaks Kirundi (very handy when your going into the interior). My “other half” preferred the usual Saturday “stay at home”. (couch-potatoe!) As it turned out just three of us were able to get away for that day, but it was such a great adventure that we decided to try to make it a monthly outing

Burundi is a country full of “mountains”, although they seem more like hills because Lake Tanganyika is already at 3,000 feet. We were assured it would not be a strenuous hike because it had just a 300 ft. elevation from where we would park the car. Most of the climbing was in the car on the 1½ hour drive there. gas 02 Heading east from the capital Bujumbura we twisted and turned up the paved road for about 45 minutes, through a few small villages, then headed out one of the dirt road for another 45 minutes. I was really thankful Dan knew where he was headed and had a GPS to verify he was going in the right direction

Parking the car at a bend in the road with a wide, flat place, we found it was a station on some sort where the local men were loading different products in to the back of cars or trucks to take to Bujumbura to sell. Dan was able to verify with them that we were in the right place. We started up, past several plots with the traditional round huts mixed with the more modern square brick homes being careful to step on the goat trails rather than through their gardens.

We quickly found ourselves in some of the strangest flora and fauna I’ve seen in Burundi. Nearly the whole hike was covered with small pine trees—a more recent import that was initiated as an alternative to the eucalyptus trees brought in earlier. There were large carpets of bright green mosses growing under the pine trees along with ferns and wild orchids. Since we didn’t know what to expect we really didn’t have any preconceived ideas, this made the discoveries along the way all the more interesting and softened the blow that on reaching the “top” we couldn’t see a view due to the growth of pines in all directions. gas in back shoulder In fact, all we found at the top were two large holes dug into the ground perhaps for mining something. As we headed back to the car it occurred to me that the process of getting to the top was so much more interesting than the actual “top of the mountain”—how profoundly like life that is.

Since it was only noon, and not raining, Dan suggested we take the “back road” to his coffee washing station and return to Bujumbura by a different route. After asking a few people on the road if it was passable (sure, on two feet!) he was game to try especially since he had 4-wheel drive. We were in! The road was mostly passable but there were more than a few sketchy places. One patch in particular called for Dan to get out of the car to figure out just how to maneuver it, not only did it have huge ruts from a large truck but it was on a 90 degree curve with a log bridge at the bottom just after the curve. Pictures don’t do it justice. But Dan placed the tires on top of the dirt between the ruts and slide down it, catching the turn and fishtailing it across the log bride as if he drove it every day. The drive was an adventure, to be sure! Dan was an excellent driver and tour guide. It’s hard to describe or even show in pictures just how steep the hills are here and yet they are farmed from bottom to top. ortega y gasset Having this opportunity to travel literally across country caused me again to appreciate just how beautiful Burundi is.

After about an hour of excitement on the dirt road we reached the coffee washing station. It’s coffee harvesting time so the washing station is just beginning to get underway. Dan walked us all around it, explaining the process of washing the beans, the different washing tanks, the separation of the different sizes of beans and the different processes of drying them (it’s way more complicated than I imagined!). He and his local Burundian partner have created jobs for the people in this area and want to help the farmers expand coffee production. Eventually they hope to build an eco-lodge on the location and expand into essential oil production as well. They have picked a beautiful location with 360 views of the beautiful Burundi hills.