Every night we have study time with my host siblings. The youngest, Maimuna and Isatou, color, draw, learn to count, and practice greetings in English (“How are you?” “What is your name?”). The middle two, Sofie and Fatou, work on their homework, read, and practice writing and math. The oldest, Nogoi and Sutay, do their homework, read, or complete practice exams. We come into my house and use my solar lamp because the rest of the compound is usually dark after dinner time.
Even on days that I’m tired or forget about study time, they’ll show up at my door demanding, “Ali! Study!” We listen to music and try to speak in English and it’s so much fun. Even when I have Peace Corps friends over, they’ll fight over who they want to study with and want to practice their reading or writing or English for fresh eyes.
Last month I went on vacation and was away from my host family for almost 3 weeks. Before I left I told Nogoi, the oldest girl, to help the younger ones study while I was away. I told them they’re welcome to use my house and my solar lamp if they want to study at night. In the back of my head I wasn’t really expecting them to study as diligently as we usually do, but when I got back I was blown away.
The night I got back, they said they’ve been studying every night, even had a mock exam, and Nogoi had prizes to give each one of her younger siblings. They were so excited to show me their exams, which Nogoi had written all of the questions for, and then we had an award ceremony. Nogoi made prizes for all of them, bracelets and candy in a gift wrapped box, with “HARD WORKER” on them. We had a formal ceremony where Nogoi shook their hand and thanked them for their hard work. It was so awesome.