The classrooms are pretty basic. Rows of desks with chairs attached and a blackboard at the front of the room. The class room was relatively cold. Brahim wore a coat during the classes, as did most of the students.
The classrooms are lit by hanging lamps, but the bulbs are very dim. (Note to readers: I have no clue what the neon green circle is. It was not visible in real life. The school was not being invaded by alien life forms. Thank you.)
Brahim did all of the teaching this first day (he looks very teacher-ish here, don't you think?). As soon as I was introduced the students started hollering out English phrases that they know: how are you, nice to meet you, etc. It was funny. After briefly speaking to the students I spent the rest of the day observing.
The students in all three classes seemed very excited to learn English. They were extremely attentive during the lesson.
Brahim had them read portions of the textbook to each other. They read stayed very focused during the exercise. They followed with their pens and pencils and didn’t fool around. I was impressed. (The name of the girl on the left means "happy" in Arabic. I told her we are name twins because my Eskimo name means happy in Inupiaq.)
Sometimes students came to the board to write. This girl is named Fatima. She is wearing the white tunic that is the uniform for girls in the school. Some girls wear the tunic buttoned, some wear it open, some wear it underneath jackets and sweaters. Fatima is also wearing a scarf to cover her hair. Most of the girls at the school do the same thing. Only a handful of girls wear their hair uncovered.
Some students used Arabic-English dictionaries during class.
Most were extremely diligent about taking notes and writing down new vocabulary words. This adorable guy had printed pages of information about Alaska. Brahim had asked the students to do some research before I came. He had all sorts of information.
The most amusing part of the classes was when Brahim asked questions. The students would shoot their hands in the air and shout, "Sir, sir, sir, sir, sir," begging to be called on. This pictures doesn't quite capture the urgency with which most students raise their hands. I will try later to take a picture of a student desperately pleading to be called on.
The students' English was quite good. I could understand everything they said. Brahim conducted the class completely in English. He only used Arabic when defining a word the students didn't understand.
-Brahim wrote some example sentences on the board. One of them said something to the effect of, "She had not learned any Arabic before she had arrived," referring, of course, to me. After the students read the sentence they shouted, "No problem!" :)
-The students sat mostly divided between girls and boys (Hey Shishmaref kids! You do the same thing as Moroccan kids!).
-The first class was primarily girls. The second class was primarily boys. That may explain why the second class quickly asked if I was a Miss or a Mrs. :)