Friday, August 26, 2011

And the Point Goes to...

As the original theme of this blog was Annie versus Mozambique and I have kinda trailed off on this effort, I thought I would bring it back in the epic (yet, not so epic) battle of Gurué, my old site, versus Invinha, my new site.

Distance Traveled by the Average Student to Attend Classes Everyday: Point Invinha
-Yes, at my new school, kids come from all over the bush, super far away, by foot, many by bike, and a select, rich few, by motorcycle. For my first day of survey, a few students wrote they live in neighborhoods up to 20km away. Now that is some dedication to the normally sub-par education most students receive here in Mozambique if I have ever heard of some.

Quality of Teachers: Point Invinha
As opposed to my old school, we have to wear our batas, (the teacher lab coat uniform, I even got yelled at for not buttoning mine on a abnormally hot day) and teachers show up on average 50% more than they did at my old school. This means, that I am not the only teacher teaching during the last two class periods of the day and my students don’t resent me for my consistent attendance, Yipee! We have teacher meetings I am actually informed of and teachers can even be found lesson-planning in the teacher’s lounge (crazy I know). 90% of the teachers are young, this being their only first to fifth years teaching, and they are enthusiastic. It really is rather refreshing.

Quality of School Grounds: Point Invinha
-I am provided with chalk! And garbage cans! And every student sits at a desk and not on the floor! (granted, they share the desk another student, but at least there are enough desks to do so in each class). But no, they do not have books, so, per Mozmabican usual, the whole of the learning that goes on is from chalkboard to notebook.

Cute Children: Point Invinha
-All my neighbors have children under the age of 8 and they are adorable. You only have to say Tia Ana to me and I melt. They always bom dia me and come to play, I love it. Also, a student dropped off 2 one month old puppies on our porch, and we have been babysitting for a few days, so the neighborhood kids have not left their perch on the porch, playing with and holding the puppies. Cuteness abounds. The kids also love to play with our turtle, aptly named Cargado (turtle in Portuguese) who lives in our compost pile. (sometimes I even surprise myself by the true things I am able to say about my life here).

Availability of Food: Point Gurué
-You really can’t buy much in Invinha, so I try to get a ride to the city a few times a week to buy things, print, etc. Its mostly just a time-consuming hassle, but by no means impossible.

People I Know and Like: Point Gurué
-I still keep up with my student groups in Gurué twice a week and offer tutoring once a week since they all complained to me that their new teacher does not explain very well. They are always happy to see me in the city, I think only because they liked me as a teacher but not that I made them do work and try. What a concept.
So with a score of 4-2, Invinha wins. It is a great town and a great school, and really the only thing holding me back are my old students. But I’m sure the new ones will be just as awesome as time goes on, once they get to know my teaching style and get used to the crazy white lady in front of them.

In other notes, it is the dry season here and hasn’t rained in months. Thus, it is also building season. Everywhere in the bush people are putting mud-ish goop in molds to make bricks and adding on to houses or building one from scratch. The poorer people use more mud to hold the bricks together, and the richer people use cement and even build brick ovens to heat the bricks and “make them strong,” or so I’m told. If you are super rich, you put a layer of cement on the outside of the bricks, case in point, my house.

I went to Mass at the beautiful church on the hill on Invinha the other day and had dinner with the nuns that run my school. Bishop O’Dowd High has trained me well. Luckily, I chose a day that was doing Mass in Portuguese and not in Elomwe, the local language, so I could pretend I wanted to follow along.

I also finally got a bed in my new house. It is made of bamboo and relatively comfortable. But as luck and Mozambique would have it, the guy I contracted to make it, misread his measurements, and made it exactly one foot too narrow and one foot too short for my mattress. So it's an interesting squeeze.

And as no blog post is ever truly complete without a funny English class moment, here is mine of the week. Since we have been reviewing parts of speech (because they are in 11th grade and don’t know the difference between a noun and a verb) I wrote a MadLib on a big sheet of paper and we filled in the missing words as practice. I asked for a plural noun and a student said “child.” When asked to make that plural, he correctly responded “children.” Good job, student! But, when I placed this word upon the paper, I realized, we had just created the sentence, “My hobby is collecting children.” Oops. Especially because there is a legend in the neighborhood that this certain creepy Portuguese man who lives in the city steals children. My bad.


  1. Tiggs!
    I'm so happy to hear that you are adjusting to Invinha so well. Moving and changing jobs is tiring and challenging in the US let alone Mozambique, but you sound full of optimism and energy. What a relief to be teaching in better conditions and with other enthusiastic teachers. Keep up the good work!
    -Lil Dip

  2. Attagirl with your cultural sensitivity :P

    love you whobody!