Saturday, June 09, 2007

Em final

(Drafted May 19)
Today I bought lettuce in my market. I was stunned. I may become spoiled by such luxuries! To celebrate this very special day I broke out the packet of Italian dressing that the Wonderful Walshes had sent me and made a very exciting lettuce and tomato salad. Those of you who are familiar with the fact that food is a central focus of my life will not be surprised that one of the things that I profoundly miss are grocery stores. Ah, those beautiful aisles of luxury and abundance where you can find everything to make anything. Sigh... The South African grocery store in Nampula doesn´t quite cut it--for example, the last few months butter has been out of stock (and more tragically ginger!), so it´s kind of a random grab bag.

My clubs are flourishing. I am getting more and more kids every week, and hae been begged to make my english class longer. It´s really rather funny what the kids want to know ex. How do you say "tirei cabelo" which means i pulled out hair. Um ok... My Science Fair group is going reasonably well. I started with a lesson on the Scientific Method, which they´ve never heard of and ahve been demonstrating little experiments (plant growth, heart rate, pendulums, acid-base rxns, etc.) let me know if you have good ideas that don´t require any resources! The tricky part is getting them to start producing their own project ideas, totally alien concept so we shall see....

Tomorrow I have the first meeting for my new girls group--when some of my meninas learned that i make a lot of the clothes i wear they asked for sewing lessons, so they are bringing fabric and we shall make skirts. Maybe I´ll be able to turn this into an income-generating project for the girls, and even expand the group to other topics. One of the other PCVs in Nampula has a really cool club--FBLM, Future Businesss Leaders of Moçambique, and she has all kinds of guest speakers (local business owners, and even ppl from the city) come to talk to the kids about developing businesses. This is HUGE in communitites where virtually everyone is an unemployed subsistence farmer without ideas of how to do anything else.

I´m working on getting more girls in my SciFair group, though it presents a few challenges. Two of my girls (good students who participate enthusiastically in class--not typical) asked me to go talk to their families into letting them participate. One said her Aunt refused because she is an angry drunk (used my suavest Portuguese to convince her!), and another with a traditional Muslim mama--I have convinced her it´s a fab idea but she still needs to consult and get permission from her nephew (husband died last year) before she can give it the all clear. I´m still hopefull...

Itºs such a satisfying feeling when my projects are going well and the kidds give me their endearing enthusiastic smiles.

Granted it´s not all smooth sailing--I still rant and rave (internally) about all of the formality and bureaucratic bullshit--there´s always some reason I have to write up some totally pointless document and then there´s always something totally pointless missing = Laura has to do it AGAIN. Argh. Other irritiations include teachers not showing up. Someone in the office complimented me the other day on the fact that I always show up for class (my response: uh yeah...it´s kind of my job...). Another day I get to Turma 5 and the Chefe (head student) give sme a long list of kids #s and says that the Hist prof says I have to kick them out of my class. Why? I enquire. Apparently they came to his class during roll call (by #, not name, too many kids!) and then left. His punishment was having them kicked out of MY class. Needless to say I abjectly refused, as I´ve never heard of a stupider punishment. The kids are in my classroom to LEARN, and I´m thrilled that they show up, so there´s no way in hell that I´m going to kick them out of Biology for cutting History. Coincidentally this is the same prof. who claims to have 90 goats that he has accepted from students in exchange for grades. Ah Moçambique....

(June 9th)
So, I finally ran out of rain water, alas, but I was able to arrange for a guy with a bicycle to bring me water from the villiage pump, so I don´t have to kill myself trying to carry water on my head. I´m always slightly ashamed that kiddos Emily´s age and younger can effortlessly carry huge water containers on their heads and I can´t...how pathetic. Usually I donºt carry much of anything actually as my students are constantly insisting on carrying my books or my groceries. It will be strange goign home and not having a loyal following who greets me every 10ft. as I walk through town--Bom dia Senhora Professora! and now Salama! (iwth giggles) as they know I have a grasp of basic Macua, and some useful phrases such as Umpaca mehlu, or See you tomorrow--and shove people out of my path who are rude enough to get in the Senhora Professora´s way! How shocking!

This entry is getting rather lengthy...Tudo bem here in my town (in case you were wondering I have the rare and glorious priviledge of using the NGO internet IN MY VILLIAGE!). People have sent me all kinds of generous packages with yummy things to nibble including Trader Joe´s ravioli (cheese! swoon!) and smoked salmon (oh-my-god-mummy-you-are-amazing) along with a delightful supply of marshmallows to roast. My most recent package was from Sarah Pettit, which included People magazine and the New Yorker (perfect blend of frivolity and quality!) along with a 7 page letter (!) (puts many of you to shame....) a human body book with pictures that my kids are utterly blown away by--theyºve never imagined seeing photos of blood cells, or intestinal walls (pics taken INSIDE a person! wow!) and a nice eng-port picture dictionary, which the kids in my english class are going to LOVE. You people are really amazing, and keep me going strong with all the letters and packages. Keep those pens moving!

Special thanks again to the Walshes (Saints I tell you, I can´t get over how my cupboard bulges with glorious things like vegetable biriani, gnocci, ravioli and chicken soup!), and to Grandma, Jon and Marie for antother lovely box of goodies.
Letters from my Laura, Connie girl (from New Zealand!), and Nancy McCulloch, along with a save the date magnet from Erin and Chris (the only thing magnetic in my house is the door jam, so I see you guys every time i go in and out :)
Many thanks also to Caroline, whose birthday books were forwarded via mummy. Just read the first of the books (Carry me Down) which was great!

Ok have rambled on quite enough for one entry. Much love to all of you and keep the letters coming...we´ll see how long my stamp collection lasts tho i think i can buy more in august. I´ll be having a relaxing weekend (after grading 560 notebooks during the week...) and tomorrow will start working on a new garden with the help of a neighbor--I provide the seeds, he does most of the labor, and we both win, hurrah! Maybe I´ll be eating beets and carrots in the coming months!

xxxx

Laura

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