The first trimester is over, which means a break from school and the standard, “how did it all go down in your first four months?” Peace Corps conference. But conference means hotel, which in turn means, showers (and hot water!), delicious food, air-conditioning, and seeing all the Education volunteers in the north of Mozambique, all of which I am thrilled about.
The end of the trimester also means final exams. Since all the students take the same subject exam at the same time throughout the week, all the teachers proctor for each other, which means two things. One, I have very little control over what is going on during my tests, leading to a tremendous increase in cheating. And two, that I have to proctor other classes and students that I don’t know and that don’t know me, leading to a pretty universal lack of respect from students (because I am basically a substitute teacher in that moment, and foreign and weird and with mediocore Portuguese communication skills) and my failed attempts at curbing their cheating on tests basically designed for them to do so. I am glad they are over to say the least. The only comic relief of the week was when one of my students turned in two tests, with increasingly failing grades. Sorry buddy, nice try though.
My favorite method that I came up with to attempt to halt cheating during exams, was when I was making rounds to all my classes during my test to answer questions. The sides of our classrooms that face the hallways do not have glass in the windows/doors where they conceivably should. So, I would stick my head in the back door, scare the hell out of the students next to the window by asking them what they were doing as they were cheating, and then remarking that “Estou sempre assistir” (“I am always watching”), which though semi-creepy, may have had at least the temporary effect of limiting at least those students’ wandering eyes.
The last two weeks, I have been involved in the making of two delicious feasts: one with homemade ravioli, gnocci, and spaghetti sauce, and the other with burritos with all the homemade fixings, including tortillas and tortilla chips. Such a treat.
Also, it poured rain all weekend, which means, I couldn’t really leave the house unless I wanted to get soaked. So, inevitably, boredom ensued. And in a boredom that I would wager that only Peace Corps volunteers can fully understand and appreciate, I did a great many “productive” things to pass the time, including reading two books in two days, making two huge, full jars of piri-piri (extremely hot chili sauce) that left my hands stinging for days from chopping so many hot peppers, making the best power-hour song line-up with all the songs painstakingly edited to contain the best minute of each, and inventing the world’s greatest game. For this game, all you need is a buddy and an I-pod. One person will say any word (preferably an adjective, but any word will suffice) and the other person will search the I-pod for the song that best encapsulates and defines that word. We played for about five hours one night. Best word/song pairings: “brittle” with N’sync’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “success” with Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” and “confident” with Eminem’s “Without Me.” Try out the game and you will not be disappointed. Official name and games pieces will be for sale soon.