Thursday, July 21, 2011

Work days, World Cup, and Women!

Hi everyone! I hope you are enjoying the summer months back home! Since my last update, not a whole lot has changed in terms of my activities. By the time I get this post up, the second trimester will have come to an end! It’s hard to believe how fast this trimester flew by… and I’m thinking the last trimester will feel even faster!

Since you all pretty much know what I’m up to by now, I decided it’s time to give you a little more detail about what “a day in the life” really looks like. So, here we go!

5:30 am- Wake up to the usual morning noises of Kaunda: dogs barking, roosters crowing, goats screaming, and a few bancas playing bad music.
6:00 am- Actually get up. If I haven’t taken one the night before, warm up some water to take a bath. This has become much less frequent in the winter months. I can’t figure out why, but for some reason standing outside naked at 6 in the morning splashing luke warm water on my body doesn’t appeal to me that much. If it’s really cold, I just stand in a bucket inside my house to “take a bath.” After, I eat some breakfast (which the people in my community are so surprised at- “You ALREADY ate breakfast?! Before your classes???”) and drink some instant coffee.
6:45 am- Head over to the school, or, in other words, walk out my front door. I am generally the first teacher to show up. The other teachers start rolling in around 7, which is what time we are supposed to be done with morning announcements and in the classroom starting first period. The teacher generally walks up, shaking his head about “these students” and how late they all are. If I’m feeling sassy, I point out to said teacher that there are, in fact, many more students who have shown up than teachers, at which he usually laughs and agrees. We finally enter into the classroom at about 7:20, leaving a full 25 minutes to give first period.
7:20-12- Give whatever classes my schedule has for the day. I am not sure if I have mentioned this, but in Mozambique every homeroom class has a classroom that they stay in all day, and the teachers enter the different classrooms. I do not have my own classroom that I could hang any posters in or anything like that. So, I walk into whatever classroom I am teaching, one student yells out “SCHOOL DISCIPLINE” in Portuguese, and all students stand up and say “BOM DIA, SENHORA PROFESSORA.” Good morning, teacher! “Bom dia, como estao?” Good morning, how are you? “Estamos bem, MUITO obrigada!” We are fine, thank you so much! Then, they all stand waiting for me to give them the okay to sit down. Sometimes I forget and start doing something at the teacher’s desk. When I finally look up, they are all standing there staring at me. My class period usually starts with checking of homework, where I walk around and give them a little check in their notebooks if they have done it. After, I write all the notes for the period on the board and wait for them to copy it down. Other teachers often just dictate to the students, but given my imperfect Portuguese mixed in with a Michigan accent, this would take hours to do. When they have finally copied it down, I usually explain the notes and hopefully have an activity if there is time. Between classes, I either go back into my house, chat with other teachers at the school, or work on grading in the “teachers lounge.” Because of the fact that the students stay in the same classroom all day, it is also possible to “occupy” some other teacher’s class time if they are absent that day, which is unfortunately very often. It is a rare day that the students actually have a teacher 1st through 6th period. It is also very rare that the students will have to stay at school until 6th period, since the teachers that are there will just give their classes whenever the turma is free, often times combining classes. Regardless, by noon all the classes are done.
12-2 pm- Eat leftovers from dinner, read, take a nap, do grading, or really whatever needs to be done for the day. This is the general “rest time” for everyone in town. No one is really out.
2-6 pm- Depending on the day, go for a jog, play soccer, meet with clubs, or passear around Kaunda.
6 pm- Go home, cook dinner (and enough for lunch the next day), read, do crosswords, drink tea, and try to keep myself awake and out of bed until 8.
8 pm- Lock up, tuck in my mosquito net, and read for a while before falling asleep.

Pretty exciting, huh?

The past few weeks, though, I have had some different things to do to spice up the day. I think I am entering a new “phase” in my integration. Now that I pretty much know most people in my community, and they know me, I am now getting to the point where I feel like I am starting to build real, meaningful friendships. The other day, for example, none of my girls showed up for soccer so I decided to walk around for a while. No one was really out, and I started to feel really sad that I just didn’t have that many real friends that I could hang out with in Kaunda. Well, Kaunda must have read my mind, because since that day I have been pretty socially busy! As I was on my way back home that day, looking sad, I ran into the frequently mentioned big-nosed-condescending counterpart figure, and he told me his wife, my REDES counterpart, was in their house and I should go visit her. I headed over to her house, and ended up sitting and chatting for over an hour, and it was just what I needed. Got some good gossip about other teachers, and just really felt like she considered me more than just some weird foreigner. Last weekend, I also was invited over to watch a movie at a teacher couple’s house on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The wife, Veronica, made us popcorn and I got to play with their adorable twin babies. Later that night, I was invited over to another teacher couple’s house to eat dinner and watch the US Women’s World Cup game. They invited me back for the next game, which I definitely took them up on, and it just felt so nice to be sitting in a full living room with a full family watching TV and chatting! I had forgotten how nice that feeling was after nearly 7 months of living alone.  Later in the week, Veronica, the popcorn teacher, came up to me and told me she heard I played guitar. She has a guitar but doesn’t know how to play that well, so she asked if we could start playing together. So, we set a “jam session” time for Friday morning and she showed up, baby on back and guitar in hand, and we played together for an hour or so! It was so much fun and I hope something that will keep happening! Just feeling like there are a few women I can actually be myself around and that genuinely want to hang out with me has made a world of difference in how I feel about Kaunda. I had always felt accepted and welcome, but now I feel like I am more than just a visitor. It’s these relationships that I am building that make me excited I still have a year and half to get to know these friends even better!
So, things are going well! I am ready for a little break, and will hopefully have some good pictures to share after some traveling and the week-long REDES conference that is coming up. I hope you are all doing well, too!
The song for this post is Rusted Root "Send Me on My Way." No particular reason, it's just a happy song that has many happy memories of dancing with friends and sisters!
Hope to hear from you soon!


  1. Love the day in the life! Just so proud of you, sister.
    Miss and love you!!!

  2. Hannah, your personality and sunshine has won them over. You've entered the "we trust you" phase with everyone. Human nature is universal and you've overcome obstacles that 99% of us will never experience. Way to go young lady!!!