Sunday, September 21, 2008

Winding Down

Hello hello! I´m back in the city again, this time on short notice--peace corps sent out a text message that they want our bi-annual reports by next friday. To those 5% of volunteers (like me) who can´t get to internet at site or without traveling great distances were a bit peeved that we had ten days notice to do this, especially since we didn´t have the forms already (so we couldn´t drop them with someone heading to the city). I needed to turn in my passport anyway, as our visa expires a couple weeks before COS, unfortunate timing. Fortunately I had a fairly free weekend, so here I am in the city with Miguel (neighboring volunteer in Chiure, who has the same predicament), and having a nice relaxing 24 hours in the city--we decided to splurge on the nice hotel with hot showers, air conditioning and free internet, as we are the rich volunteers who spend no money because what exactly might one buy off the beaten path in our towns?

The year is winding down to a close, and I am starting to get a bit stir-crazy as I feel more and more ready to come home. There are now four weeks of class remaining, one if which is for exams, and two of which contain holidays, so we really are in the home stretch. A while back I finished the 10th grade curriculum and embarked on summarizing the 8th grade material. I managed to finish that up this past week, and will be skipping on to a quick highlight of the important parts of the 9th grade curriculum. This will require much more planning on my part, as I´ve never taught 9th, so I´ll have to figure out what info is critical, learn all the new vocab (plant bio so things like xylem, phloem, monocot, etc.), and be able to answer what ever questions they put to me. I´ll have to report back on how that goes. I think I´ll only do about two weeks of 9th, and then leave the last week for genetics exercises, which they will need to practice more, as they are a major part of the national exam every year. So far I am feeling pretty good about the level of preparedness of most of my kids. I have one turma that isn´t really putting in the work, but the other two are on track and firing answers back at me. I´ve been writing out a copy of previous years´exams every week, and been asking them to 1. sit down in a testing situation and do it 2. after doing it with no resources go look up the material they´ve forgotten, and 3. bring it to the first lesson of the week so we can go over it together. Then the second two lessons of the week i do my 8th, and now 9th grade reviews. Hopefully this will let the kids feel reasonably comfortable when they sit down with the real thing in November.

8th grade is also winding down to a close. I only have a few more lessons to go. They, as usual, have been having a blast with sex ed., and the only difficulty in this part of the year is classroom management--it takes all of my authority and strategizing to keep them in line and curb their natural inclination to laugh/cheer/clap whenever somebody asks a sex question, and i answer in a combination of science and push toward social responsibility (for example--encouraging the boys to respect the girls´ equal right to study, and not curb their education by impregnating them). This past week I got to do the same thing with my 10th graders, when they caught up with the 8th grade curriculum, and they got just as much of a kick out of it. Kids are really the same, the whole world over.

I´m trying to arrange for the health NGO to find me some teenager with HIV to come and give a testimonial to my kids in the last couple weeks of class. The goal is that they will be hearing from someone their own age, in their own lingo, and will really think about consequences, and the very real presence of HIV in Mozambique. Peace corps published an article in our newsletter citing a statistic that 17% of all Mozambican teachers were estimated to have died of AIDS last year. Many of my students will go on to become teachers, so they will need to think about the kind of behavior that we need to work on eliminating from the schools (number one in my book is teachers sleeping with students).

Once the school year ends we will have 10th and 12th grade Conselhos de Notas, which will determine who passes, and who takes exams. I find it ironic that some of the kids who have been working the hardest to prepare for exams wont end up taking them--if you have top grades then you are exempt from exams. Then we will proctor the national exams, following which we will need to grade them and do yet another Conselhos de Notas for the non-exam grades (8th, 9th and 11th). And this should bring me to the end of the second week of November, at which point I will spent a couple days packing, and then make my way to Maputo. I´ll have three days there to do lots of paperwork, and have the last medical and dental evaluations, and then homeward bound it is. I get on a plane two months from today, on November 21st. It´s strange how the time drags as it flies by. Someone once told me that peace corps has the longest 24 hour periods, in the shortest imaginable weeks, which sums it up pretty nicely.

I´ll hope to get back to internet at least once before i go down to Maputo in November, but I will be eagerly anticipating seeing all of you wonderful family and friends, and catching up properly on the last two years. Though I´m not really looking forward to being unemployed, homeless and broke. Anyone want to offer me a job? Thankfully I have wonderful parents, who I know will give me a generous grace period (how generous? they wonder as they read this) to get my life together.

Thanks are due to: Miss Marie for the song request on border crossings (the rest of you have been put to shame), Connie not only for the current letter (catwoman stationary makes me smile every time) but for keeping them coming regularly over the entire course of my two years here, Erin who astonishes me with her thoughtfulness in sending me a package when she has twins imminently due and a million other things to think about, Mme. Gaultier for her nice letter, though it meant i had to remember my French, and of course Mummy and Daddy, who keep sending me nice packages and letters.

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