Friday, May 22, 2009

Prairie Dogs and a Breathless Lone Wolf

Yesterday, we had a “Day of Culture” in Monapo, or as I like to call it “I don’t feel like going to school or work so I officially dub thee a Day of Culture.” I walked from the school with my students to the community stage, where there was music blasting and kids in uniform as far as the eye could see. I quickly got asked to dance and my students got pretty excited when I pulled out my dance moves. It was a repeat of the rousing impromptu dance performance during physical education last year. Let’s just say, I took it to the streets for about…10 seconds. Northwestern Wisconsin streets. In a matter of seconds, I was surrounded by cheering/staring kids. They get a kick out of anything out of the ordinary my roommate or I do. Kids here are amazing dancers. You will be walking down the street and all of a sudden, with music blaring from a local store, they will pull out these sick dance moves and then continue walking as if nothing just happened. People can pop and lock it from the womb here.

For culture day, there was a presentation by local officials – a presentation that, in all honesty, no one cared about. There is a stage but it’s odd because the officials sit on the stage while people dancing or performing are on the ground with the general public. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put those people on the stage so people could see? Yes. Yes, it would. But anyways, as they were presenting on the stage, we noticed a guy had a shirt from the JOMA conference in Nampula this year. Backstory - besides REDES in Mozambique, there is also another youth group that is run by Peace Corps volunteers called JOMA (Youth for Change and Action – translated). They had their conference at the same time as ours that I made a speech at and Nia and I both have shirts. Nia had run into him earlier in the month for “Day of Workers” and he was wearing the shirt. She asked him where he got it and he leaned in really close and was like “why do you want to know so bad?” She asked him where he got the shirt from and he said it was from someone in Angoche. She then asked him who gave it to him because she probably knows them. And then he went into this ridiculous lie about how people have different names on their identification cards so he couldn’t be certain. Well, after getting home yesterday, I was curious about where my JOMA shirt was and lo and behold, it’s missing. The only explanation we can come up with is that he took it off our clothesline. What a creep. So I am determined to see him in public wearing the shirt, and then walk up behind him and do that nifty little hockey trick where they pull it over the person’s back. Followed promptly by the biggest wedgie of his life.

I have been going running every morning at 5:30 at the soccer field by our house and I’m up to 7 laps. There are always children playing soccer, so it can be annoying at times. I have to hide my heavy breathing every time I jog past. You jog past a group of people and they just stare. Stare, Stare. Stare. That’s life for us. Like a monkey in a cage. I enjoy staring back with exaggeration – my jaw hanging down. And then say something like “flies are going to enter your mouth.” Most of the time they get embarrassed and look away, but sometimes they just look confused. One day, these two little boys were sitting in the field and as I started my laps, they stood up and started jogging behind me. Every time I would go slow, they would go slow. Every time I sprinted, they would sprint. It was all quite annoying - like “I know you are but what am I?” or repeating everything someone says. Another time I had the same pace as a 12-year old girl. I tried to pass her but then she sped up. I tried to slow down and I swear she slowed her gait. I think she wanted to run with me, which is cute and everything because I’m the only other female in the field in the morning, but I can’t handle that kind of pressure. I’m the lone wolf type when it comes to exercise.

I am having issues with a turma (class) of students. I handed out a falta collectiva (marking everyone as absent) and a falta vermelha (the worst offense) one day this last week. They just get obnoxious and you have to try to put them in their place. Some teachers have changed classes in the school so they don’t have to teach certain bad turmas. It shouldn’t be like that. In my mind, there should be major punishment for that kind of behavior. For example, kicking them out of school. I become evil when I have a bad turma. I was kicking people out left and right. I made everyone who didn’t do their homework (which was about 90 percent of the class) sit on the floor between the aisles for the entire class period, which is not comfortable. A fellow teacher walked into my classroom in the middle of class to make an announcement and all my students looked up from between the desks like prairie dogs. I think I’ll have a Mozambican teacher yell at them for me. Or at least tattle on specific people to the pedagogical director. There just gets to a point where there isn’t anything you can do and you have to call in the reinforcements.

Kids at the school have been barking at the dog and standing in the cashew tree again. So I went and talked to the school and we haven’t had a problem for the rest of the week. It’s ridiculous that no one controls the kids here. No teachers show up to school so the kids just sit around and get bored, so they decide to stir up trouble. One day I was teaching at school and Nia was home. I guess a kid was throwing rocks at the dog and barking at Timba. Well, Timba has this King Kong-like ability to burst free from his restraints when he is enticed and he managed to do so. He immediately sprinted out of the gate and chased down the kid. As he was trying to flee, the kid got so scared that he fell down and Timba just stopped on a dime next to the kid and turned around as if to say “well, my work here is done.” I like to imagine he dusted his paws off. I would have given up my monthly salary and eaten just cassava for weeks to see that.

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