It’s hard to believe I am starting my 5th month here in Mozambique! Crazy. I’m happy to say things are going as well as I hoped they would be by this point, if not better. I really feel like Kaunda is a good fit for me, and I really do enjoy teaching. I don’t get the anxiety before teaching that I thought I would get and am even able to be myself in the classroom (even if the students just give me blank stares). 8th graders are just still pretty little! It’s a little deceiving since my school only goes up to 10th grade- the 8th graders seem close to being “done” with school. I have to remind myself of how young they are. I think of myself in 8th grade- with my full braces, cheerleading uniform, and extreme self-consciousness. Perhaps expecting my students to fully understand me when I talk about where the genetic material is located in a prokaryotic cell versus a eukaryotic cell, especially since I am explaining it in a language that is foreign to me and maybe a quarter of my students, is asking a little much. I’ve found there are other things I can emphasize, though, and feel good about it, such as making sure I tell them they are intelligent many times throughout the class. I also frequently say things such as “You all love biology” or “Biology is your favorite subject with your favorite teacher” hoping that those little sayings will stick, as well. Guilty. I’ve already found the students I think will really get to like. There’s one girl in one of my classes that I think may be the only one who has understood and completed my homework assignments out of all 5 classes. It makes me really excited to get the secondary projects started so I can have some more interactions with students like this girl!
Outside of the classroom, things are going pretty well, too. I had a really fun birthday weekend down in Moatize. My little town wasn’t as hopping this week now that the first week is over. Several teachers just weren’t here Monday or Tuesday, something to do with their money being delayed. Since they have to go to the city to go to the bank (as do I), this was apparently an excuse for not coming to work. Who knows. Regardless of their reasons, there are several periods that the students just don’t have a teacher. While this is not a good thing, it may actually work out well for me if I ever want to travel for the weekend- I can give my classes at other times if I have to miss any days of teaching. But anyway, many teachers seemed to be absent this week, and I’m thinking that’s what most weeks are going to be like. I have found a few social outlets, though. On Monday, I was in kind of a funk after such a fun weekend, so I forced myself out to find SOMEONE to hang out with. I ran into one of my favorite female teachers (secretly hoping she’ll become my “Monique,” for those of you who get what that means) and asked if I could accompany her to her house so I would “know it.” She gladly invited me over, and showed me her TV and satellite dish. She put it on CNN, and immediately asked if I understood it (it was in English). Although everyone in this town tries to speak English with me, they all find it necessary to ask me if I understand anything in English, like music or TV. Yes… I speak English… I understand it. Anyway, I stayed there and chatted with her for a while, and it definitely helped me get out of my weird little funk. I think those are just going to happen every once in a while.
As I was teaching Wednesday, one of my students also informed me that Thursday was a holiday and we didn’t have school. Would have been nice to know. I was pretty bummed, since Thursday is usually my busiest day, but it turned out to be a pretty fun holiday! There was a ceremony and “cultural activities.” Everyone told me that things would start at 7. So, taking this into account, I planned to be ready by 9, which is when it would probably actually start. Well, 11:00 finally rolled around and they decided it was time to get things going. The first thing to do is read the agenda out loud, which is always one of my favorite things to hear. It’s 11:00, and someone starts reading “At 8:00, we will have this, at 8:30, we’ll have this person talk, at 9:00…” and so on. So formal. I hope no one notices my smirk as this is going on. It was pretty cool to see the cultural dancing, though, and afterwards I spent the afternoon hanging out with the other professors. I did have a beer at site for the first time, which everyone was pretty excited about. There were other female professors drinking, so I thought it was culturally acceptable. They were all shocked at how long it took me to drink one beer, too, so I don’t think I’ve gained a lush reputation. Sure enough, at school today, about every teacher I ran into, whether they were there or not, commented on how I drank beer yesterday for the holidays. Kaunda talks! It’s similar to how everyone in town knows I do not eat meat. Oh, living in a fishbowl, the joys. They were not judgmental about it at all, though. Rather, they seemed excited that I do something that they like to do, too. Whatever it takes to make me seem normal, I guess. Even so, I think I’ll save the drinking at site for the holidays. It was fun to just hang out for the whole afternoon with the other professors.
Another high point of the week was that, because I stayed out later than I ever have before (which was only 7:30), I got to really take a look at the stars for the first time- and let me just say- WOW. If you really want to see a full night sky, head out to the African bush. It was phenomenal. I’ve looked at them in Moatize, but that’s not nearly as isolated as this is. So, the song for the post is “Yellow” by Coldplay.
Well, as usual, I hope things are going well back home. Thinking of you all frequently!