Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Potato Salad is Delicious

I had my students write and present dialogues for their second test of the trimester. They could write it about family, travel, human rights, or domestic violence - all things we discussed in class. Here are a couple of stellar examples from my best students:

1: Where’s your father?
2: My father’s in Nacala.
1: What is your surname?
2: My surname is Afate.
1: Is your family rich or poor?
2: My family is all right.
1: How is your mother?
2: My mother is, honestly, very fat, short and clever.
1: Is your father handsome or ugly?
2: Of course, my father is handsome.
1: Is your mother beautiful or ugly?
2: Umm…my mother is okay. I am sorry.

No joke. I didn’t help them at all with that, just the spelling of words…and I laughed the entire way through their presentation to the classroom. They memorized it and said it in front of everyone. Here’s another one.

1: How can you avoid domestic violence?
2: Don’t hit the people who live with you.
3: Prohibit the father from drinking.
1: Why are women more vulnerable?
2: Because of society and community.
3: Many time the women and children are victims of domestic violence.
1: Mothers, sons, fathers! We should denounce domestic violence!
2: If we don’t stop domestic violence, it will cause problems in life and we will never be happy.
3: Yes, it’s true. Domestic violence is not good for us.
ALL: (shouted with gusto and pumped fists) Stop the domestic violence! Say no to domestic violence!

I only have one more test left as a teacher in Monapo. Pretty crazy. I'm gonna let them use their notebooks. I don't want to fight them up to the very end on cheating. It's a losing battle, so I might as well make the test harder but let them use their notebooks. It's a win win if you ask me. This ACP will be the last time I will be trying to control the kiddies. The last time I will be boo-ed at as I enter the room. I can just feel those tears welling up.

We had a teacher’s meeting the other week where they talked about news at the school and to air grievances. Usually, we bring along a good US Weekly or People magazine for these things. Whether Anne Hathaway was wearing Dolce & Gabbana or Prada seems much more thrilling than whether we are changing grades or problems with depositing money in teachers’ accounts again. I took to doodling in my notebook, fixating on how I was going to make potato salad for dinner. In the middle of scribbling “Potato salad is delish” in bright, checkered letters, I had my legs up on the seat. Much to my dismay, an education official, in front of all the other teachers, announced “Senhora Professora, do you think you are sitting at home? Sit up straight.” I felt like I was in second grade again and was getting yelled at by a nun who mistook my filling up of a milk carton with water as dumping the milk out. But then I went home and ate potato salad and watched Gilmore Girls and the world was turned right again. I ended up giving some potato salad to the workers at the bar next to our house and the next day, the woman said "that mayonnaise you made was excellent." Ha.

Tuesday was Monapo Day. At the beginning of the day there was a bicycle race and a motorcycle race on the main road in town. All the motorcycle riders were showing off, lying down on their seats as if that was really affecting the aerodynamics and their chances of winning. The sides of the road were packed with spectators and you could tell, in the glint of people’s eyes, that they were hoping for a bike to fall down and bite the dust. Or at least, it would have added to the drama. Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t. There were so many children around and bikes going 60 mph down a normally slow traffic road. That is not a good combination.

Tuesday night, Danny OG came to Monapo and performed. Danny OG is like a shoddy DMX or Ja Rule - which, if you have heard the American rappers, speaks volumes about the quality of talent. We got seats in the front, within a taped off area. If there is anything we have learned in the past two days, it is that taped off areas at public events mean nothing in Mozambique. We tried going to the Miss Monapo pageant that Nia’s student won Monday night but the pavilion was so jam-packed with people that our claustrophobia got the best of us and we had to get out. If you are going to travel to Mozambique in the near future, go ahead and pop that personal bubble of yours because that pavilion was like a super-sized chapa. I am honestly surprised that no one died. It was all very running of the bulls. People were shoulder to shoulder, including short children who lacked vision and breathing space. Women with newborn babies strapped to them take the children to the events where the speakers make my own eardrums vibrate. There is a new generation of Helen Kellers growing up in Monapo as we speak.

In other news, my REDES group has received their funding and we can now take our trip to Ilha to visit the women’s association. The girls are pretty excited to get another sewing machine and more supplies. The library project should be completed in the next couple of weeks as well. I visited the school making the furniture last week and it's all shaping up beautifully! And they gave me a bag of vegetables! It is a race to the finish now, making sure projects get completed and I only have four more classes to teach before I am done with my career as a Mozambican teacher. I have heard that Monapo will likely be getting three volunteers next year! That came as a total surprise but we are happy with the likelihood that our girls and art groups will be be continued. The next group of volunteers gets to Maputo at the beginning of October. And they will get to site in December. Time is flying.