Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Students Oh My!

Jan 25, 2007
A third of a year. That´s a long time. It doesn´t feel like I´ve been away for quite so long.

As I draft this entry I am sitting on the verandah of my house. It is pouring rain, ans so it is FINALLY cool enough to make tea and teh Christmas pudding and custard that clever Uncle Dave sent! Ah the bliss of being cool, almost cold. Most days we just sweat. We have become adept at moving very little and sitting so that the most surface area is exposed. And still the sweat pours off of us every waking moment and most sleeping moments.....It´s a very cool night when i want a sheet over me. But, only one more month of blistering heat, another of uncomfortable heat, and then it should become tolerable. I think winter here will be lovely, like a pleasant spring day.

Mary and I have gradually settled into our town. Our market vendors say there will be a lot more next month when the heat slacks off--cabbae(!!) lettuce(!) local tomatoes(!). Plus we´ve found one of them who goes weekly to Nampula to bring tomatoes, so we´re arranging for him to bring us more extremely exciting things like eggplant, papaya, carrot and cucumber. We´re finding that as we get to know more people in town there is a lot more at our disposal--I´ve been able to track down a number fo things not sold in the market including tongs for my charcoal stove, much better than two sticks that continuously light on fire when i move coals!

We are still stared at everywhere we go, but there are more and more greetings of recognition. As I walk the streets there is a constant chorus of "Bom Dia Senhora Professora" or even "Professora Laura"! The guys in the market know us well now, and Mary has a running joke with them that I´m her wife. They´re highly amused but not 100% sure she´s joking so it´s laughter tinged with shock, as homosexuality is not widely accepted here--although the teachers in our school were all passing around "A Homosexualidade Feminino" a book of interviews of Portuguese lesbians--this is the first book that I´ve seen in my town outside my own books.

Finally having a schedule and a routine will be nice and teachign should be both challenging and rewarding--finally doing what i came here to do! The next few weeks should bring many changes.

Continued Feb 1, 2007

The two weeks proceeding school we spent hours every day organizing stacks of student files into turmas (a turma is a group of kids who have all their classes together), they are separated by grade and then by age, and then alphebetized. Then the names are written out by hand with carbon paper to make copies (no electricity = no photocopiers)....a tedious process.

The Saturday before school started I learned what grade I´m teaching (8th, human body!) and received my teaching materials: a pencil, a notebook, a blue pen, a red pen and a box of chalk. No books, nada. Good think i have my own copies of the curriculum and the 8th grade text book along with the US book that Lauren gave me which supplements the new parts of the curriculum that aren´t in the text book, but which I´m still expected to teach....oy.

Monday, the day before class started I learned when during the week I´m teaching (afternoons mon-fri) and how many turmas (7).

I have now succesfully completed my first week of school, and have given my Intro lesson plus the first (and smallest) unit. Next week I start on A Posicao do Homem no Reino Animal. My seven turmas will each have between 70 and 80 kids, though only a between 45 and 60 showed up in each class the first week), and they range in age from Turma 1 of all 14 year olds, to Turma 7 with 18-19 year olds. They want to know how old I am and laugh when I tell them I am 88 and exclaim "Nao e!" The kids are friendly and so far under control, let´s hope it stays that way! Wish me luck! I was surprised how easy it was to teach 60 kids....we´ll see how it is with 80 next week. I assigned homework for monday.....we´ll see what i´m getting myself into, as one assignment means over 500 papers to grade.....oof.

Thanks to all for your love and encouragement. Three sets of PC staff visits brought lots of mail and packages:
Packages: LOTS from fabulous Mummy, two from uncle Dave, and one each from Grandma, Auntie Marie, Uncle Jon and Marie Hewitt. Twizzlers and m&m´s were a gift from the gods
Letters: Mummy, Daddy, Trev, Laura, Marie, Frank & Lisette, Emily, Travis (postcard from Thailand!) and Uncle Jon.
Emails: Mummy, Uncle Jon, Trev, Erin, Daddy and Sarah P.
Many thanks to all of you! I´m sorry I never have time to properly express my thanks.

Lots of love,

ps. We have successfully made: chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake cookies and choc chip banana bread, all on CARVAO! We have been grinning like idiots, and planning our next brilliant experiment. Alas we´re almost out of the chocolate chips that mary got in her last package, but we´ll make due. Too bad marshmallows don´t exist out here, they´d be fun to roast over the stove :)


At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The weather and food you're cooking sounds cozy..
It's freezing and snowing out here in KY and MO.
I dunno about those papers you have to grade though..


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