Monday, February 7, 2011

Fresh Feeling

So I’m at the two month mark at site and it’s been an adventure. Mona and I are still in our temporary house, much to our dismay, but the new house is truly almost finished. Hopefully we can get in and paint this week and start moving in. Between the holidays and issues getting our windows made, we were away from site for nearly three weeks. When we first saw the new house we knew we’d need some bigger windows. You’ll understand when I eventually get pictures up, but we decided we were willing to pay for them if it meant not suffocating. With the help of our sleazy old director we found a carpenter in Chimoio to make us four meter by meter windows with screens and glass. Turns out he was as shady as olRui and we nearly took him to court! It was a ridiculous situation that involved threats, name calling and a trip to the police station. Let’s just say I’ve seen enough to know that I don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law here. Think of the show Locked Up Abroad. Creepy.  Anyway, we finally got the windows and they were put into the house last weekend. One step closer!

First Day of School!

And then of course school started on January 18th and we are now three weeks in. The school is really nice too. There are three blocks of salas (rooms) and the newest one has a library and laboratory. I don’t think there is any equipment in the lab yet but it’s a start and the library is pretty decent considering. Every classroom has a big chalkboard and all the kids have desks.  We are lucky enough to have classes with just 40-50 students because some schools up north have over 100 students per class and not enough space.  Our pedagogical director is on top of things and is really involved with the kids and keeping them in line and accountable. Overall it’s a good situation. I’m teaching 8th grade biology which of course is all in Portuguese and I was so nervous my students would ask me something and I wouldn’t understand or be able to answer their questions. I proceeded to write out every word I wanted to say and even anticipated possible questions. Needless to say, they were silent; a sea of blank stares looking back at me while I explained the scientific method.  I’ve given aulas (lessons) on the scientific method, characteristics of all living things, prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cells, animal vs. plant cells, levels of organization and the five taxonomical kingdoms (I definitely learned it as six kingdoms but apparently in Moçambique they only recognize five. I figured it best not to rock the boat this early). I still write out everything but I’m getting more confident and by the last session I don’t have to use my notes as much. The frustrating part is the lack of participation from the students. I ask if they have questions and I get silence. They say they understand when I ask, but who really knows. I think they just say what they think I want to hear. The first test is week after next so I guess I’ll find out then.

Despite the frustrations, I am enjoying teaching. There are some really sharp kids (I had a girl explain sexual versus asexual reproduction better than I could) and I can tell I’m getting through to a few of them. My lessons aren’t exactly thrilling at this point but I think I can find ways to spice it up when we get into the body systems. The school actually has posters and charts showing the human body and the various systems; which is good because as most of you know I am no artist (my animal and plants cells turned out well though!). I’ll keep ya’ll updated on how school progresses.

In other news, I’m currently in Chimoio on medical hold due to back issues and my newly burnt hand.  The back thing is a giant mystery at this point but my hand is supposedly healing well. Hopefully we’ll get everything settled soon so I can get back to Dombe and back to teaching.
a Mocambiquen style picture

Fresh Feeling - Eels


  1. so, what kingdom did they leave out? you can't leave me hanging like that, em!

  2. Hi, Em, I'm ashamed that I haven't mailed any-
    thing to you yet but have been a bit tied up the past six weeks or so. I had bronchitis for the first time in my life and it really "took the wind out of my sails." Then while I was down Mamie fell and cracked 4 ribs, was hospitalized, and is now permanently in a full scale nursing home with constant issues to settle there and getting her room emptied at Odd Fellows. Don't know what I'd have done without Julia and David.
    Do hope you'll get the back thing diagnosed and dealt with soon and glad the hand is healing.
    Julia says she's going to get me on Facebook so I can hear from you more frequently. Love You!!!

  3. Oh, the pressure, Emily: if my mother gets on Facebook, I'll have no choice but to cave! The good news is my sister/your aunt can be very slow to attend to such issues!

    Great to see/talk with you last week! I am still just amazed at our good fortune to have video-Skype - I did not remotely imagine such was possible when you left here for the PS.

    I can only trust that your good health and some good care there will resolve your back situation. Occasionally I can almost "picture" day-to-day life there, especially with the latest pictures - almost. Your challenges are sufficient without a painful back.

    Take good care; let someone else handle the hot water!

    Love, Dad