Monday, January 31, 2011

Biology, Bean burgers, and Birthdays!

Biologia, Bean Burgers, and Birthdays!

Well, folks, it’s official. I really am a teacher in Mozambique! The schedule was finally finished last week on Thursday, and we started actually giving classes this Monday. I lucked out (although I don’t really know how much luck was involved when I mentioned wanting either Mondays or Fridays off about 15 times) and only have night classes on Mondays, so I got back to site after a weekend away on Monday morning. I was a little nervous, seeing as I have to walk right through the school to get to my house, and I was still a little unsure of the rules on not being present for the start of the day when you aren’t actually teaching. I clearly looked as nervous as I felt, trying to avoid eye contact with everyone. Fail. One of the teachers hissed over to me (that’s how you get someone’s attention here, have I mentioned that? Yes, I have actually hissed at a waitress to get her attention- guilty) and gave me a thumbs up. So was I good? Maybe. Still a little nervous. I put my things in my house and immediately went out to greet the other teachers, hoping that it would look like I was just strolling out of my house after sleeping in a little late. I found a group sitting under a tree, my director included. They all seemed fine, and when I mentioned I didn’t have class until night time, they all questioned as to why I was back so early. So, I’m cleared. I can get back to site Monday afternoon and be safe if I ever want to leave for the weekend.

Kaunda is quite the place when school is going! People were not lying when they claimed it would be full once school started. It is true. And I absolutely love it. Even if I’m not teaching, I can just hang out outside of my house and there are guaranteed to be teachers around. There are 4 buildings to my school, with 11 classrooms in total. The secondary school all meets in the morning (6:45-12), along with a couple middle school classes and primary classes scattered throughout the town (I think some meet in churches). The afternoon is mostly primary school and the rest of the middle school. The night courses, which is one class each of 8th, 9th, and 10th grade, meet in the only building with electricity from 6-11:45. I have morning classes Tuesday-Friday and I have the first night class on Monday and Tuesday nights. My schedule is pretty spread out, but even with 10 hours I feel pretty busy! As it turns out, it’s fairly exhausting to teach biology in a foreign language to students that don’t even speak that language!

My classes have been going pretty well. I feel that I am improving with each one. The first one was quite the struggle- participation is non-existent! I had a great class planned with lots of interaction… not going to work here. I adjusted accordingly, though, and the rest of the week went much better. I have yet to get any laughs, but I think that will come. 8th grade biology is mostly systems, so it is not too much theory, which I am glad about. I think that would be pretty challenging with these kids! They are still pretty little at 8th grade. There are several students who only speak the local dialect, and another handful that can’t read or write. So, I am glad that this year I am mostly just presenting information that they have to memorize. I am still going to try to make it fun and interesting, though! I tried to suggest that biology was SO interesting to my class this morning, though, and I didn’t get too much of a response.

I’ve been staying pretty busy when I’m not in the classroom. I usually “rest” from 12-3. I’m sure the whole community assumes I’m just sleeping (that’s what they do, I think), but I am usually cooking, reading, lesson planning, or something like that. Around 3 I usually head out to “passear,” which usually means just finding someone to talk to for an hour or so. I’ve been successful every day! Today is the first day I’ve allowed myself to just relax at home for the afternoon. I wanted to clean up before I leave for the weekend, and wanted to write this blog post!

Tomorrow I will head to Moatize for the big birthday weekend! It has never felt less like my birthday. I can’t stop sweating, for one thing, and I’m pretty sure my mom isn’t sending flowers all the way to Kaunda. But, I do have fun plans in store. All the Tete volunteers should be meeting up in Moatize for a little celebration. I’m pretty excited! We’ll see how “Hotel Moatize” (as we called it at Christmas time) functions now that it has a Mozambican man living in it! I’m sure you can read more about that in Audrey’s blog…

Some other interesting tid bits of my last week:
*The goat that would not leave my latrine. I had to find a crianca to help me get it out of there.
*The goat that got stuck in the iron barred door that I had closed as it was trying to get into my house.
*A drunk dial from my principal and counter part.
*The addition of a “menina”- one of the teachers arranged a student to help me with water. Everyone is convinced I cannot possibly do all this “work” by myself, so they went ahead and got me help. I’m sure I will come to be pretty thankful for it!
*The switch of the focus from the fact that I shouldn’t be sitting alone (finally proved them wrong! I do socialize!) to the fact that I shouldn’t be eating alone. In other words, the other teachers would love for me to cook for them.
*At least 4 more people who have told me they would like to run with me in the morning and made plans to meet me. No one has showed up yet.
*A cockroach playing my guitar. I woke up around 2 am to my guitar strings being plucked. Hm… It’s now dead.
*A fantastic trip to Zobue including, but not limited to, bean burgers, hummus, cinnamon rolls, goodies from America, a trip up a mountain, and fantastic company! Tete is on the map.

So there it is! This probably won’t be posted until Monday, but I hope you all are doing well! I hope you are eating lots of cheese, wearing lots of sweatshirts, drinking lots of cold water, and sitting on lots of couches. Those are things I would like to do.

The song for the post is “Campus” by Vampire Weekend. It’s super catchy. That’s all.


  1. I love these posts!! It is so funny thinking of you dealing with goats - and I think those little criancas come in handy occasionally. It makes me feel so good to know that you are settling in so well and enjoying what you are doing. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxooooooooxxxxxxxxxxxxx Grandma - one of your biggest fans!!

  2. If the cockroach "came in through the bathroom window," it may have actually been, "Joe Cockroach?!" strumming the guitar.

  3. Loved your post! If you tried to tell me biology was SO interesting, you would get much more than a lack of response. Yucko! But don't worry, you can convince them-I am sure of that.
    Way to go on continuing to adapt as well as you are. Goats, cockroaches, hmmmmmm. You do make me laugh, dear Hannah.