Saturday, October 29, 2011

Summer Smoke

fellow teachers

October 28th was the official end of the school year here in Moz which means I survived my first year teaching in Portuguese. It’s kind of hard to believe actually. I so clearly remember my first day of classes, the butterflies in my stomach and the doubts I had in my language skills. Would the kids like me? Would they adapt to my teaching style? Would they even understand me? After hearing from 14ers that most kids won’t show up the first week I decided to give a lesson on the scientific method rather than jump into required material. I was greeted with lots of blank stares and silence. But slowly that improved. They did adapt and were soon making comments, correctly my Portuguese writing and sassing off. I squashed the latter two habits and we found a comfortable level of interaction. Just like 8th graders in the U.S., these kids just want to have fun, be with their friends and be popular. Some are real smart and interested in learning; some are simply in class because they are supposed to be there. I learned that I had to identify the dedicated ones and generally teach to them – I can’t make everyone happy and if they aren’t going to try it’s their loss. They tolerated my eccentricities and “strange” teaching style but I had no idea how they felt about me until I returned from my America trip and was left with only two turmas.  Those two groups gave me a standing ovation when I announced it and the students from the other three were disappointed and wondered why I was leaving them. I felt bad for them but was feeling really good about myself! And now, three trimesters and the human body later, my grades are done, exams are returned and students are asking me if I’ll teach them again next year (I would love to stay with them but 9th grade biology is a whole year of plants and I think I would go insane teaching that). So one year down and one to go. Who knows what adventures it will bring!

Unfortunately, the end of October also means we’re a little bit closer to saying goodbye to the 14ers. Heath PCVs always COS (Close Of Service) first so some of them might already be down in Maputo but the Education volunteers will be headed that way real soon. I realize that it’s only goodbye until we’re all back in Americaland but these folks are a key part of my Peace Corps service. These were the people that answered all of our questions, encouraged us when we were down and welcomed us into this exclusive group of crazies that chose to leave family and friends to give everything we have to a bunch of strangers in a third world country. I can’t imagine my experience without them and now I’m moving into my second year knowing they won’t be here anymore. But at the same time, a new group of volunteers is settling into training and maybe I can fill that role for some of them. I was selected to help out the first week of PST for Moz17 and it was amazing to be in Namaacha and be on the other side of the situation. I was the “experienced” PCV peppered with questions, offering advice and encouraging them through tough moments. What a difference a year makes! I of course promoted the Central region and have my fingers crossed that PC sends some of them our way.

In other news, we had our English Theater competition last weekend here in Chimoio and had 15 schools from around Manica and Sofala provinces presenting their plays. The theme was ‘Choose Your Future’ and since it’s a PEPFAR funded project they all have an HIV/AIDS education/prevention aspect.  The Dombe group didn’t win any awards but they did an amazing job, had a lot of fun and are hopefully proud of themselves for how much they improved. Panda finally made it back to The Dombe after a particularly lengthy adventure in transportation and is doing well. She’s a bit of a diva and a pain in the ass but I love her. I have to remind myself daily that she is still very young and will probably grow out of some of her less than endearing qualities. She finally has a little doghouse and is sleeping outside which is saving me a lot of floor mopping.  One of my neighbors also got a puppy (a beautiful white male) and since Panda getting pregnant is an inevitability, Mona and I have decided that we’d be okay with that union. They would be adorable puppies! And I’m officially taking over as the Provincial Coordinator for Science Fair but won’t have to worry about that for a couple months. Right now my plan is to enjoy my summer vacation, see more of this beautiful country, prepare for my mom and Marv’s visit in December and try to avoid getting heatstroke!

Summer Smoke  - Girl Talk


  1. I am still amazed when we are on the phone and you stop and have a conversation in Portuguese and then return to ours in English. See you in a short 6 weeks!
    Love, Mom

  2. I so appreciate the effort you make to create images of your home, your work and the people. I believe I can miss you at little less when those images are clear - and when I realize the amazing work you are called to do!

    Forgive my "pathetic behavior" as we said good-bye on Skype the other day! But any father "worth his salt" is pathetic at times over his children!

    Love, Dad