back to work
Before I get started on the Moz, I just have to say thank you to all of you who I saw when I was home for the holidays. I got to see so many of you and it was just what I needed to recharge myself for this year. I had so many different social events with my sisters wedding, and the holiday parties, and it gave me a chance to cover most of my bases. Thanks for all the warm words and encouragement, and if I forgot to say thank you for an email or a package that was sent, forgive me, I was a bit overwhelmed at some points by all the people I was getting to reunite with. If I didn't get to see you, no worries... I'll be back in less then a year!
Getting back to life here, I have started teaching again. This year is shaping up to be a lot different then last. The school is being structured differently because we are sharing our space with a new university that is arriving in Vilankulo next week. Now I have my opinions about this, and not all of them good, so I won't say a lot here, but the gist of it is that all of the 8th, 9th and 10th grade classes are being held at the old secondary school in the middle in town, while our school is just responsible for 11th and 12th. (The problem that I have with this is basically that there is no room over at the other school to accomadate all these students, thus they are crowding 75 kids to a class, and having them put in tents and sitting on the floors, but don't get me started). I am teaching 11th grade at the same school I was at last year, Mucoque Secondary School. I am actually enjoying it a lot. The students are at a higher level (or are supposed to be), so I am able to do activities with them that are a lot more advanced. I still haven't given my first quiz, so maybe I am going to find out that in reality a lot fewer of them understand what I am saying then I think, but I'll deal with that when the time comes.
I have a few projects in the works this year that I am trying to focus my time on. I asked my director if I could teach fewer classes so that I could have time for these projects and, suprisingly enough, he actually listened to me. So, this year, I have 5 classes instead of 8. This gives me about 180 less students, which makes a world of difference come correcting time. I am psyched! I have already gotten underway on my first project, which is an English club. It involves having my former students come to my school once a week to study English with me. I have gotten permission to use the library, so I am having 2 different groups of students in the 9th and 10th grades. The basic idea is to study English in a less formal, more interesting setting, with a lot less students in the classroom (i.e. more one-on-one teacher-student time). We will see how it goes. So far I've spread the word to the students about our first meeting, which is on Wednesday of next week. I have also gotten other teachers involved who would like to come to the club meetings to help. This is great because as volunteers we want our projects to be self-sustaining, and be able to continue after we are gone. Also, one focus of Peace Corps is to transfer ideas and information between volunteers and counterparts that we work with in Mozambique. Doing the club with other teachers is an excellent opportunity to share teaching methods and activities to improve how English is taught in Vilankulo. I am excited about these groups because there will be many less students, and all of the students present will actually want to be there and want to learn English, not quite the case in a normal classroom. Anyway, I think things will be a lot smoother and more fun with these groups. We'll see...
The other project I'm trying to get under way is teaching computers. I have actually been given the okay to do this, but there is still no time table for when I can start. The school still apparently does not have the electricity to use the computers, but I don't actually think they have checked to see if this is still true. I am going to keep on them until the things get moving. I haven't actually used any of the computers in the labs (there are 40), so I have no idea what kind of condition they are in, or what kind of programs they have. It could be quite a mess, and although I know how to use a computer, I am no technician. Maybe some of you back home will be able to give me some advice when the time comes... Let me know if you know anything about computers and are up for this!
Outside of teaching, life is good, but always a bit crazy. I arrived back in Vilankulo to find that my dog had had 4 puppies. I have since given away 3, but am having a little trouble getting the owner of the 4th one to actually pick it up and take it away from my house. I love puppies, but they are a lot of work and really messy. I really only have space for my dog, Gus.
My weekends are usually filled with trying to keep my house/yard clean... a tough job... I never realized how much work goes into keeping up a house. I also have a constant stream of visitors (mostly former students) at my house all the time. This is great, but it is also a bit difficult when I am trying to either get house work done or just get some alone time.
For the most part this year is already flying by and going a lot smoother. Last year was tough because I really couldn't speak Portuguese when I first arrived at site, but at this point I'm comfortable with the language, know how the school works, know the people here, and I'm much better at being vocal and speaking up for things I need. It's really important here to be able to be forward and direct in order to get things accomplished, and this year it does not come so hard to me. So, like I said, life is busy, but I am happy, and feel like I am going to be doing good things this year.
Let me know how you are and any big news. I miss you all, but will be home soon enough. Take care, and I'll do my best to stay in touch.