Monday, November 21, 2011

1 Year Down

Well, I survived a year of teaching. Let Summer Break begin! I’m anxiously waiting to arrive in DC on December 15 for a three-week whirlwind trip in the US!

To sum up the end of the school year, I will say this. Mozambique has it right: smash the majority of your holidays into the last month and a half of school so that just when everyone, (teachers, students, administrators) are all antsy for ferias, holidays, to begin, you get a bunch of days off to facilitate the transition. October is the last month of school, and there are 3 big holidays:
1. Dia de Paz (Peace Day), which is celebrated by trucks ambling around full of soldiers holding AK-47s. When I asked why people were showing off their guns, my neighbors told me, “Well, its Peace Day.” Oh…Right….Duh…
2. Dia de Professores (Teacher’s Day), which is celebrated by teachers throwing massive parties and drinking a lot. There is also an unspoken holiday exactly one week before Teacher’s Day, to officially commence Semana de Professores, Teacher’s Week. So, really it’s a two-in-one holiday.
3. Dia de Samora Machel, which celebrates the anniversary of the death of Samora Machel, the first president of Mozambique as an independent country. This year was the 25th anniversary and has been called “O Ano de Samora Machel, “ or the Year of Samora Machel.

After final exams, the students in 10th and 12th grades have to take the national exams to pass to 11th grade / to get a 10th grade diploma or to graduate second cycle, respectively. It is essentially 2 weeks of proctoring, grading, and corruption-prevention (i.e. coding tests before they are graded so teachers can’t read a student’s name at the top and give a biased grade and putting red lines through every empty space on the test answer book so that no one can go back and add anything later, thereby changing what the student wrote and improve their grade). With hundreds of students each taking 5-10 tests, it’s a lot of paperwork, the only solace of which is that Dia de Cidade de Maputo, Maputo City Day, is during this time every year, and because no one is working in the capital, apparently, we are exempt from work as well. But then, we get to do the whole national exam rigmarole again at the beginning of December because the exams are so difficult, the majority of students don’t pass, and they can take an easier version of the test at this time.

My secondary projects and student groups are over for the year. My English theatre troop, 10 students who together wrote a 15-minute play in English about how drinking negatively affects your prospects for the future, came in 4th place at the provincial competition (out of 6…sad). But they were really great to work with and I am extremely proud of their English accomplishments as well as the awesome discussions we had about making good choices for a brighter future.

We had the good-bye party for my roommate last week, and me and the women of the neighborhood cooked for 12 hours to make the spread that fed 60 people. Gotta love Mozambican women, a group of whom came to my porch at 6:30am asking to peel potatoes. At one point, I think all the kids of the neighborhood ages 2-10 were standing around peeling the garlic. The food was delicious, the dancing hilarious, and a good time was had to despedir, say goodbye, to a great Peace Corps Volunteer, teacher, and friend. And now, on to a year of being the only mukunha (local language for white person) in the area…oh boy.

But other than that, life is pretty routine around here. I have, however, begun to see massive groups of goats and cows grazing on my runs in the bush. I turn a corner, and BAM, 30 cows or 30 goats are coming at me head on. Scary shit the first time around, but now, me and the 8 year-old boys who are herding the animals are buds.

Also, below, I have added the poems my girls group wrote together. They are corny as hell, but have some really positive and great sentiments that I hope they continue to strive towards, and they were really excited that their poems were going on the esoteric idea of the internet that I explained to the few who didn’t know. The un-bolded parts are my English translations.

Os Poemas de REDES

Rapariga Vencerá
Young Women Will Conquer

Tenho certeza que juntas venceremos a violência doméstica
I am certain that together we will conquer domestic violence
Tenho certeza que lutaremos contra o abuso sexual
I am certain that we will fight against sexual abuse
Tenho certeza que todas podemos acabar com a discriminação
I am certain that all of us can end discrimination
Tenho certeza que venceremos a gravidez indesejada.
I am certain that we will conquer unwanted pregnancies.

A Rapariga é capaz de lutar pelos seus direitos
A young woman is capable of fighting for her rights
A Rapariga é o futuro do caminho da liberdade
A young woman is the future of the road to freedom
A Rapariga é chave da oportunidade
A young woman is the key to opportunity
A Rapariga é linda de naturaliza
A young woman is naturally beautiful
A Rapariga preservará o amanha
A young woman will preserve tomorrow
Uma Rapariga saudável sempre têm força de trabalhar.
A young, healthy woman always has the strength to work.

Criança Livre
Free Child

Tu Criança és o que todos esperam
You, child, are what we all are waiting for
Tu Criança tens a oportunidade de dizer não a todos os males
You, child, have the opportunity to say no to anything that is bad
Tu Criança tens direitos de viver numa sociedade livre de todo mal
You, child, have the right to live in a society free of all bad things
Tu Criança és o tesouro duma nação
You, child, are the treasure of a nation
Tu Criança: a educação é a chave da tua felicidade
You, child: education is the key to your happiness
Tu Criança: se hoje choras, amanha sorrirás.
You, child: if today you are crying, tomorrow you will smile.

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