Student Posts IV: Corruption in Mozambique

My name is Cristina .M. and I am from Mozambique, Niassa province, Cuamba district. I am a trainee of Belmiro Obadias Muianga teachers training centre.

Corruption is a big problem in Mozambique. Why is it a problem?

It is a problem in all ministries of education, health, in all, for example, if a person is offended, the offender pays money to a daily police station official. When he goes to solve that problem, he says the offender will be imprisoned as he payed money he is to be free only he stays in the jail for two days and goes home he is loosened. In the schools, teachers need money for student to pass the class. If it is a girl some teacher they want to make sexual relation with her. If a student is intelligent they don’t like him otherwise he will pass the class freely. I think the possible solution if it happens and ease could be announced and the person who does it must be put away of the service.

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My name is Osvaldo .A. I am 7372 days old, and I am from Mecanhelas. I like listening to the news report.

One of the problems in Mozambique is corruption. The doctors in the hospitals are selling tablets. When a sick person goes to the hospital, the doctors say “come next week, because this week we want to treat those who have a stomach ache, and not those who have a headache.” After that, a sick person pays 1000 Meticais (about $33) to be treated. Many people die because they do not have money to pay a doctor.

To pass a class, the teachers want money; The teachers want a student to sleep with them. When the student does not have money, the teachers say he is sleeping. Many students have concluded grade 12, but they don’t find employment because they don’t have money to pay teachers. Many people are buying certificates. As a result, many teachers are weak, thieves, and drunks. When the students pay money, they get good marks, and many intelligent students without money are always crying by the end of the class, and it causes poverty in the country.

To eliminate this problem, the doctor should receive money from the government after he treats a sick person. In this case the doctor will be happy when a sick person comes to receive money from the government.

The tests should be corrected in Maputo where are some wises like a president, so that they can control it. In this case, the mark could not take a part of relationship, but only knowledge.

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I am Lucio A., a trainee at teachers training center in Cuamba district in Niassa province. I was born in 1988 in Nampula province. I am the third son of my family, I am a boy who likes so amuse with friends specifically my colleagues of my course and the rest of my college.

I am going to post here a certain problem of my country, in that I am going to present how it comes for, why it occurs, the possible solution, and the possible points where it affects.

Corruption

In my country, wonderful Mozambique in these days we have been mecalued with a certain problem that comes from our leaders to us, the young men as the work finder. Why am I saying it comes from our leaders? Many gatherings people discuss about it and seems to be tough to be solved. When someone studies and gets a degree to find employment with our government, it’s really hard to employ before she/he sends money to pay those who are managing the working for this you employed.

One of the best ways to try to reduce the corruption is from top. It should be divided the rights in our country we find that the president of the country is also the president of party in power. In that when people look for employment it’s hard because they know our leader leads in two or three places then they do not easily leave employment for us, they ask for money.

When it comes I think the government as refuses he should establish rules saying each one who makes corruption should be arrested. I do remember before last year there was a law, each one who should become rich illegally must be sucked out and lose his/her employment. And the government should let people who apply the criteria of employing people who are not competent because when people are pleased where they are not competent they are doing things with pressure to sell employment. And the people should not accept to pay for their employment by paying money.

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Student Blog Posts III: Education and Corruption

My name is Alberto .A. I’m 23 years old. I was born in 1991 in Nampula city. I’m a trainee of Belmiro Obadias Muianga teacher trainer center. I’m taking English course. I’m living in the boarding school. My father’s name is A.L. and my mother’s name is F.J. I have many friends from school and out school. I have twelve siblings, but we are not all from the same mother. We are from the same father. 6 sisters and 6 brothers. My free time I like play football, dance, and conversation about any kind of topic which we can discuss about the life itself or our academic level.

Grade 1 up to grade 5 I was studying at Muegani primary school and grade 6 and 7 I was studying at Belenese full primary school. Finally grade 8 up to grade 12 I was studying at Nampula secondary school.

Mozambique is a country that the problems never finish. We are facing many problems in Mozambique. The problem that we are facing around Mozambique is:

The lack of an employment

Lack of water because the taps that we have are not sufficient to population because every day many people who are living around society they are remarking about it.

Mozambican school have not sufficient days for students also all primary schools have not school bus neither hospitals.

Corruption is the first problem in Mozambique.

The roads are not good,

When is a project of constructions takes a long time to be already.

Mozambicans have not helps center for the people that their family has passed away.

If you are poor, you are nothing. You can’t have a word.

To end with these problems, Mozambican government must monitor all problem that the government is facing.

My name is Juvencio A., a native of Cuamba, Niassa province. I was born on February 24, 1996, so I am 18 years of age. I was born in Cuamba and grew up in Nampula. Unfortunately my parents are divorced now I’m living with my aunt and uncle. Now I’m in teacher education, English Course.

As for education in Mozambique. In Mozambique education, it is globalized in government. Mozambican education has several problems such as the problem which is corruption in Mozambique. It means that students don’t pass without paying money to teachers, if woman are doing the trade often it is compulsory sexual intercourse.

With the implementation of the new curriculum in Mozambique, education is divided into cycles.

In Mozambique there is a high level of illiteracy because children are rejecting the entry on school grounds if they think it is a waste of time and fearing the return of their property or raped. Not only, but also the Mozambican government has no material for the construction of more schools, and school materials for easy education in Mozambique.

Break away with these problems, we need help to fight corruption, that is, the government should adopt some methods of crime fighting as justice and attorney fortilized.

Student Posts II: HIV/AIDS

My name is Gildo .J.E., I am from Nampula province, I am twenty-five years old, I am not married.

I did my grade twelve in 2011. After that I was relax and I did it one year. (He didn’t work/study for a year). To be a teacher it was my vocation and since last year I would like to be it.

I am not intelligent, but I try to be a better student or trainee and to do something to improve my teaching, reading books, studying with others.

First I would like to say for everybody that HIV/AIDS is a serious disease or problem that take many people to die. And I think all people know that it is not cured.

When we look for the myths some people says that HIV/AIDS is a disease who come here in Mozambique to reduce the Mozambican people, but I think it is not true.

Many people are dying because they doesn’t believe that this disease exists.

So about solution I think the government should have some measures as to do some strategies to eradicate this disease or problem, and should bring more medicine to cure this disease quickly.

Also, the government should bring the medicine to cure this problem definitively. Also, the people should have some measures of prevention of this problem.

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My name is Abilio .A. I am 20 years old. I was born in Nampula city in 1994. I’ve got 4 sisters and 6 brothers. I am the seventh son in my family. My mother’s name is F.L., my parents are still alive, they live in Nampula province. I am in training at teachers training center in Cuamba district, Niassa province where I am taking my course. It is located on your way going to Marrupa. There’s a big boarding school, but I am not living in this boarding school, I am living outside. I used to be a very happy boy when I lived in my state with my parents, but now I am too sad because of my course, I am afraid to fail and I pretend that I am happy while I am not until people think I am a trouble maker. I myself believe that it’s not my behavior. I am only sad and I pretend to show people I am not sad.

I am going to talk about a problem of my country known as HIV/AIDS, a very dangerous disease which is killing many people around my country. I am going to tell you about possible ways to eliminate it.

Firstly, HIV/AIDS is a disease that is killing many people in Mozambique. This disease is known as human deficiency acquired disease, it’s considered like a problem because this disease kills many people in Mozambique, especially young people in the age of 18 years old and on.

The government discusses a lot about this disease but it can’t eliminate it because so far it has no core. It is transmitted by sexual relations without the use of a condom. It can be caused by the use of blood transfusion before being tested, the use of non-sanitized syringes, used objects like laser. The disease kills many people because it contains some virus in our body. When someone has sexual relations with someone who is HIV positive he can get the disease and his body loses the human system that fights against disease and any disease comes and affects our body, then we become sick, then we die. It’s important to remember that HIV doesn’t kill people it only destroys the human system which is responsible to fight against diseases and our body stays with no protection.

The possible ways to eliminate this disease is when someone wants to have sex he or she must use a condom. When he gets this disease he can’t revenge with others to say I have to spread it.

We can’t leave the responsibility for government, we should fight how to get ways to finish this disease going abroad to study about medicine how to finish or eliminate this very dangerous disease in our country in order to be safe and help those who got this disease in our lonely country doing these things. I believe our country one day the new layer of people should live here free and far from the disease which was acquired and destroys our human system.

In government discussion has bring responding in use of condom although some stereotypes say that HIV/AIDS is acquired by using condoms. I don’t think this can be true but there are people who believe in this one hundred percent. Maybe they are right to say that, they perhaps got some experiences in that.

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Quick Update and Student Blog Posts Part 1

“The best thing you could give someone is a chance.”

It’s been a busy month for us so far. We’ve finally got electricity back! Still no water… The first weekend I went to Monapo to visit Henco. We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon on Mozambique Island (Ilha de Moçambique). The following weekend was Dia dos Professores, or Teacher’s day. We didn’t celebrate on Sunday, but on Monday we watched our students sing, lip sync, and act in skits. It was a fun night and our students were very excited to perform. We finally have our EGRA books, so our library program has really kicked off! Last week was also elections here in Mozambique. They have not announced the official winner yet, but it is most likely the leader of the party that has led for the past 40 years.

The side of the fort on Ilha

The side of the fort on Ilha

Me and Henco

Me and Henco

Look at our new fancy stuff for EGRA!

Look at our new fancy stuff for EGRA!

Aside from politics and holidays, the school year is coming to an end here. This week is the last week of school at the secondary school before final exams. Two weeks ago were final exams for the IFP. They still have “test preparation” classes, but the grading aspect is finished. As one of my final projects in my class, I gave my students the opportunity to write a post for my blog. According to the assignment, they were supposed to write a short intro about themselves and discuss a problem with possible solutions. I corrected only slight mistakes to make it easier to understand, but I kept errors because I don’t want to take away the voice of the individual students. I will be posting one or two every few days, so here goes!

My first student cheated and copied his problem paragraph, so I will not include that, but here is his introduction:

Hello, how are you? I’m Daniel .E.C., I am Mozambican, and I’m actually living in Cuamba but I’m from Gurue. I am 19 years old. I was born in 1995.

My mother’s name is D.V. She was a farmer. And my father his name is E.C. he was a mechanic. So they already passed away and I hope god blesses them.

I have got two brothers and one sister. The old one called H., he is 28 years old. And the second named J., he is 25 years old. And the third is a girl named A. She is 20. Soo I am the 4th in my parent’s son.

I started to go to school when I was 7 years old. With 8 I was in second grade. When I was in 9th grade my brother and I moved from where we were living to his post job. There I was doing my 10th grade. It was in Gurue. But in 2013 I moved to here Cuamba to study since it is the place where my brother lives. I did my 11th grade. So in this year I was doing 12th grade so I didn’t finish my lessons because I heard about people who want to be a teacher they can concur making some exams that we were given. The condition was to pass and go to study and know how to teach students. I succeeded in passing that exam. Then there was the new plan to follow in my life. Now I’m here studying to be a teacher since we are finishing the year. I hope I have good luck to pass my second exams. This is my dream teaching English among people who want to learn English as a new language. It is not all; there are many things that I don’t remember. Since I fought a lot to learn English I hope I have your help.

Thank you very much, much.

Daniel's Mural

Daniel’s Mural

My second student is one of my JUNTOS counterparts.  He is very active and even has his own blog: jolnovidosenglishblog.wordpress.com. Check it out!

My name is Jolnovidos P., I was born in Mecanhelas on July 22, 1992. When I was a little boy, my childhood was a bit difficult in the time of teenager. I liked to play as childish also, I was afraid to play with people who did not know me and were not my friends. My speech was not clear and loud. It happens before I enter in any group.

In 2007, July I had applied to be an activist, a program of business where I had to talk about HIV/AIDS, Gender, sexual reproduction, etc. I did the application which I had turned purified to become an activist. After refinement on 10 July I was trained during ten days.

During training I started to get used to people that I had never known. We were always sharing ideas and learning from one another. During training I learnt to get up in public, how can someone get diseases and prevention, working in a group, and I learned a lot.

In 2009 I heard that there was a group of Santegidio also no one was being paid and it was a volunteer work.

In this group the activities is to visit prisoners giving advice, to teach children about peace, look after old people, and right now I like to play with children.

In this group the problem was that the people would miss meetings because even now people are not paid.

In Mozambique I discovered some problems, one of these problems is about leaders.

In Mozambique when people become leaders they don’t respect ideas from citizens, youth, and small leaders because they say that people they didn’t study, and they despise population. I am saying that they despise population because these leaders don’t give the population a chance to suggest. Another problem is about stereotype bad behavior of youth and adults through women.

According our debate with trainer Fei on 15, August 2014, I discovered that men don’t respect women because she said that when she was in Mandimba waiting on a bus in the bus station came a man speaking to her to kiss the man and asking for marriage. It can happen a man asking for girl about marriage, but not the way that the man behaved.

If someone love other people he can try to ask for a good way. Also, my classmates presented the same problem that had happened, but she said are not all men that do the same that happened with the trainer.

Another problem is that women are working more than men in terms of home activities. In Mozambique women are always looking for a man, in this statement means that at home women work harder than men.

To end those problems we have to promote many discussions in our communities to figure out what are the good ways for gender equality.

Jolnovidos's personal flag

Jolnovidos’s personal flag

More to come!

Portuguese word of the day: Eleçōes (elections)

Macua word of the day: mwetto (leg), which goes with wetta (to walk)

French word of the day: Qu’est-ce que (what).  My students are learning questions.

Elections, Teaching, and Mato Living in a Chique House

“Life has so many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen at once.” –Paulo Coelho

This year is an exciting year to be in Mozambique. Not only did FRELIMO, the ruling political party, and RENAMO, the opposing party, sign peace accords and finally stop the fighting and raids on each other, but it is also the year of elections in Mozambique, which will take place on October 15th. There are 3 parties with presidential candidates: FRELIMO, RENAMO, and MDM, a breakoff party of RENAMO. On August 30th, the campaigning started.

Even in the states, I’m not a huge fan of campaigning. I believe the goal there has become to humiliate the other party and expose lies or false promises more than to present one’s views. This campaign of negativity—and really the whole political atmosphere in the states—frustrates me to no end. It is equally as frustrating here, but for different reasons. Whereas in the states we have many opportunities to watch debates, look online, and participate in discussions about the views of the political candidates, here the information is rarely available, and mostly lies when it is. I asked my students how we can find out more information on the political parties. They said there are some ways, but everything is a lie anyways, so it’s better to just vote for who you like best (though I’m not sure how they figure it out). Our students are required to campaign for the ruling party and told to vote for them. I’m not sure if it’s legal or not here, but it’s definitely an order that restricts their freedom of voting/thinking. I’m sure this isn’t representative of all Mozambique, but it frustrates me to see such restriction of thoughts and ideas in a political atmosphere.

Politics aside, teaching here has been going well. Caitlin and I taught our students about co-teaching (planning and teaching with another person) and had our students teach lessons in small groups. Some groups were really good and had a great dialogue. Others not so much. The other day I taught how to read aloud. While it may seem a simple skill, it’s a lot harder when you don’t have access to books for a young age and have not had the example of read alouds in school. I read The Little Engine that Could, and my students loved it. After, we played follow the leader to learn about prepositions and they pretended to be a train. Who says adults don’t like to act like children?

Our students playing follow the leader as a train around the football field

Our students playing follow the leader as a train around the football field

We also did a unit where we talked about gender roles in Mozambique. It was definitely interesting. The students, divided into men and women, drew a poster showing the stereotypes of the opposite gender and acted out a short skit to show behavior. The women’s poster just said, “Mozambican men like to drink.” Their skit was about a group of men who were smoking and drinking and womanizing. The men’s poster depicted a woman in a capulana, traditional wear for women, but their skit was about a woman sitting and ordering her husband around. Interestingly enough, some men arrived at the house and began to tell the husband that he wasn’t being a good man. It’s ironic that the men’s skit about what a woman does turned into a commentary on what makes a man. I think it tells a lot about how Mozambican men think.

Boys being Girls

Boys being Girls

Girls being Boys

Girls being Boys

We discussed why it was harder to be a man/woman in Mozambique. The men thought it was harder to be a man because you are expected to work and be the sole earner in the family, so if you can’t find work or provide for your family you are looked down on. The women thought it was harder to be a woman because you are doing manual labor all day: cooking, cleaning, hauling water, taking care of children, laundry, etc. It was also interesting to see the intense stereotypes that they all had. One boy in my class, for example, said that men and women could never be equal because women will always spend a lot more money than men because they need makeup and hair products and clothes and will expect the man to provide for them. Women thought that men only cared about sex. The majority of my class, at least, was optimistic about men and women being equal in society in the future. Hopefully this taught them something about their own stereotypes…

I’m also planning on talking about HIV/AIDS in both my IFP classes and in JUNTOS. It turns out kids have huge misconceptions about HIV and have often been receiving conflicting information from different sources. Their schools tend to focus on things such as that tripping and falling on a knife that an infected person cut themselves on being a strong transmitter for HIV when in reality less than 10% of cases in Africa are caused from blood getting into a cut/wound. I’m hoping to dispel some of these myths and further educate these kids…

The big change in my life recently has been a lack of electricity, and therefore water. It’s definitely been a difficult 3 weeks. I was sitting at our table on my computer a bit over 3 weeks ago when I heard a noise like an explosion and the power went out. Turns out the transformer blew up. Because this is Mozambique and things take a long time, we need to order a new one from another country and go through all the paperwork to import it first. The rumor is that we won’t have power until January. In addition, because the water pump runs off electricity, we no longer have running water in the house. My life just dropped down from posh corps to not-quite-mato. Luckily, the school has a generator. This means that I can go to the guardhouse at night and recharge my laptop/phone. This also means that the water tank/reserve can be at least partially refilled at night so we can get water on the IFP campus itself. Even though we have to haul water, we often don’t have to haul it far—maybe 200 yards. It has made us a lot more conscious about how we use water.

Our life now has become thus. Sometimes we wake up early to get water before it runs out. Sometimes we can get it in the afternoon or at night. In the morning we’ll wash dishes from the night before (since it’s harder to see at night, we leave them to soak). If we have to do laundry (maybe once every week or every other week), we use as little water as possible and only rinse once instead of twice. We use the dirty laundry water as toilet-flushing water. We’ve got a bucket in the kitchen for washing water, 2 buckets in the living room for cooking and boiling/drinking water, a bucket in the bathroom for washing water, and a dirty water bucket in the bathroom for toilet-flushing water. When we bathe, we use as little water as possible. If I am washing my feet, I often use water we used for cooking, such as drained water from pasta. Believe it or not, we use A LOT less water than the other Mozambican trainers here.

At night, we cook over a coal stove. I’ve surprised myself by having a lot of success in general lighting the stove. It takes a while to heat up and to boil water and all, so I usually light it around 5pm when we won’t eat until 7 or 8pm. I’ve had a lot of success making things though, such as sweet potato curry, pasta with garlic sauce, scrambled eggs, soup, and fried rice. Around 5:45pm when it gets dark we light candles in our house so we can see. My headlamp has also come in VERY handy with the coal. Rich and I have taken to watching our way through the office, so we’ll usually watch an episode or two after dinner. Sometimes I go to the guardhouse and let my students use my computer. Sometimes we go to bed before 8pm. It’s definitely been a complete change in environment.

This is how we cook

This is how we cook

I’m hoping that the situation will, in fact, be resolved soon, but it seems nothing will happen until after the elections next month because our director is so “busy” campaigning. There have been a few times that the reserve tank has become empty, or the generator has run out of fuel. Word now is that the nearest well may have dried up. We can only hope that something will change soon. It’s definitely been a low point in my service the past few weeks, but now that I’m getting used to it and I’ve got hope for the future, I’m finding my positivity again!

And because cuteness…

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Portuguese word of the day: Bomba (pump)

Macua word of the day: Wipa (to sing)

French word of the day: L’eau qui coule (running water. I need to figure out how to say this in Portuguese!)

Agosto, Agosto, rushing on by…

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” –Jack Kerouac

It’s been a while since I’ve had Internet, electricity, and time to write, and so much has happened in my life! Where to begin?

A few weeks ago, I woke up at 5am to go out into the bush with my JUNTOS kids. We met at 6am with our tools and walked about an hour out to an uninhabited area with lots of grass and some trees where we proceeded to cut down some trees to build our shelter where we could have meetings. It was a lot of fun, though I couldn’t stay long because of my library program.

Carrying back the trees we cut down for JUNTOS.

Carrying back the trees we cut down for JUNTOS.

Woo JUNTOS!

Woo JUNTOS!

That was also the day Brianna, the new volunteer, arrived. She is a Moz 22er replacing Colin, our sitemate who finished his service last month. We had a nice dinner with her and the staff who brought her, and visited her at her house the next night before heading to our friend’s birthday party.

The Cuamba-ers minus Caitlin

The Cuamba-ers minus Caitlin

That was an interesting night. Dona Roquia, one of the women in town, was turning 46 (already a grandmother of 7!) and hosted a big party. She had invited a chefe, a police chief, from another city. Since he was an important person, we couldn’t eat until he arrived. It took a while. After he did though, it was a lot of fun!

The next week was testing in the secondary school. As usual, it was a headache. Since I teach 10th grade French and the province doesn’t have a curriculum for 10th grade French, I was lucky in that I got to design my own curriculum and my test. I was unlucky in that I was told conflicting things… I was told I had to write it, and then I was told it was already written without me. I was told it had to be the same as the others, and then I was told it could be different. In the end I got my way—my kids took my test instead of the easy one the other teachers had written. Unfortunately, I was not there to proctor it, so they all cheated. You win some, you lose some…

The next week was a lot of fun because Cuamba got visitors! First Rayna came on Tuesday after a lot of difficulty on her way here. Eventually she got here though! Fei arrived on Wednesday. They both were able to come to my class on Friday. My students loved talking to them! On Friday morning we climbed Church Mountain again, showing off one of the main sights of Cuamba. On Saturday afternoon Lauren got here. Caitlin also got back from her trip to Nampula. We had dinner all together at Dona Roquia’s before heading off on the train bright and early to our EGRA conference (community library program). The air conditioning on the train was broken, so we got to buy things out the window, which was fun. The train also ran out of gas about 6 hours in, so it was stopped for 2 hours waiting for more to arrive… We still managed to get in around 6:30pm though, so it wasn’t too bad!

On Top of Church Mountain

The conference we were attending in Nampula was for a program through USAID called Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) or Livro Aberto (open book). It is the community library program I started a while ago aimed at teaching children how to read. We were supposed to go with our Mozambican counterpart, but my counterpart’s permission (being a student) was redacted two days before leaving, so I was the only one without a counterpart. As a result, though, I got to work with a very nice Portuguese volunteer.

We did a lot of talking about the essentials of the ideal community library: Reading out loud, Individual reading, and other interactive learning activities. A program should be fun, educative, and constant. We had some practical experiences working with our counterparts and using the books, and we had some real practical experience going to a school and actually forming the reading group with kids. That part was a lot of fun, and it was nice to see everyone again. I can’t wait to get my books delivered!

Reading in our library program

Reading in our library program

Modeling a library program for our counterparts

Modeling a library program for our counterparts

EGRA 2014!

EGRA 2014!

On Sunday we had my JUNTOS group event. It was kind of confusing and disorganized: I hadn’t been there in 2 weeks because of the conference, my counterpart hadn’t been in 3 weeks, and although they had been meeting, the communication wasn’t super clear. Despite this, we showed up at 2:30pm. We began trying to sell some bracelets and food and playing games like throw the penny on the plate, a type of bozo-buckets with empty peanut butter jars, and find the coin under the jar lids. The kids loved that. After a while, my kids presented their theater pieces. They had one skit about women getting married too young and one about the mistreatment of orphans. After each they had a small discussion. People seemed to enjoy it. All in all, I think the event went well, despite not making any money…

People watching our play

People watching our play

A Skit about premature marriage

A Skit about premature marriage

This next month will be very interesting because the campaigning starts. It has been very heated here amongst the different political parties. It doesn’t help that there isn’t a great way to find out the positions of the different political parties in Mozambique, so a lot of people just vote for what they’re used to. At the IFP, kids are essentially required to vote for a specific party and campaign for that party. I’m just hoping they don’t have to skip class… either way, be prepared for political ranting to come.

Portuguese word of the day: Fugir (run away/flee)

Macua word of the day: Yowima (fruit)

French word of the day: Tasse (coffee mug. I love how there is a difference between that and a normal cup, unlike Portuguese)

Student Teaching, Secondary Projects, and Muapula

“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything! My life has been a whirlwind of primary and secondary projects here in Mozambique. I’ve been waking up at 6am, preparing for my lessons, teaching straight through the day, and falling asleep at 9pm at night (or sometimes even earlier…). I’m finally getting a chance to relax with classes being over at the secondary school, so I’ve got a bit of time to write.

Although I am only teaching two days at the secondary school instead of my previous 3 days, my weeks have been very busy. I am now teaching an additional class per week at the IFP (English grammar) and I am observing my students there in their student teaching. How strange is it that I am essentially a student teaching supervisor? It is definitely an interesting experience thinking back to my own student teaching.

During my student teaching, I started out going twice a week the semester before I would be full-time in the classroom. I was the only student teacher in the class, and I was working with the teacher I would be teaching with the next semester. When I was student teaching that was my sole responsibility aside from a seminar class once a week. I spent an entire semester in the classroom, slowly accumulating more classes until I taught full-time for about a month, then I started giving classes back. During that time, I taught maybe two hundred lessons in different subjects. I was observed 3 times by my supervisor and every day by my cooperating teacher, I had 3 conferences with them both, and I wrote weekly reflections, as I learned that self-reflection is one of the most important skills of a teacher.

My students, however, have a completely different experience. As their teaching program is only one year, they spend their first semester observing and their second semester teaching. Since there is a lack of teachers and English classes, only 5-10 people end up teaching per week. There is only one English teacher at each of the two primary schools our students are teaching at, meaning that in the month our students have been teaching, each one has only taught 1-3 times. In addition to this, our students are oftentimes nervous because all 16-17 of our other students are also sitting there watching their lessons. Sometimes my students outnumber the elementary school students, since only 20-30 of the 60 students in the 6th grade class show up. My students teach in classrooms where the students don’t have desks and sit on the floor. Some don’t even have books.

One of my students teaching in a 6th grade class

One of my students teaching in a 6th grade class

My students prepare lesson plans before teaching, but they struggle a lot getting enough practice into their lessons. It also doesn’t help that while they are writing lesson plans and student teaching, they are also learning full-time and taking 7 different classes. I admire my students for their dedication and determination, but I think it would be a lot better for them if they had a program of at least 2-3 years. In my opinion, it is impossible to learn how to teach when you are only able to teach 10 lessons before becoming a full-time teacher.

These are some of my students

These are some of my students

Another exciting thing that began this month is the commencement of our community library program. I applied for and received a grant through USAID to begin a community library in the bairro near my house. I, along with some of my students, will be teaching children of 2-3rd grade to read. We’ve started our sessions by reading a book in Portuguese, then by splitting into small groups to work on letter sounds and recognition. In two weeks my counterpart and I will be going to Nampula to learn literacy-teaching techniques. We will also be receiving 150 books to use next month!

The first steps to our Library Program

The first steps to our Library Program

Another secondary project of mine, JUNTOS, is also coming together. My group is in the final stages of preparing our community event, a big theater performance focused on educating the community about the dangers of alcoholism and drug use, premature pregnancy, and the unjust treatment of orphans in the community. My students themselves identified these problems and created skits to show how they are problems in the community, and will give a talk/have a discussion about what we can do to change these problems in both Portuguese and the local language of Macua. We will also be raising money thorough selling things such as cakes, popcorn, bracelets, and bags, and through carnival-type games and (hopefully) face painting, which I will be introducing to Cuamba! Our event will be at the end of the month, so stay tuned!

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to escape the heat of Cuamba for a bit and head up into the mountains and the mato of Niassa. Caitlin and I went with one of the American missionaries in town to a mission camp located in the small town of Muapula. It was very interesting to see how the South African missionaries there live. They mostly speak Macua because the locals don’t even speak Portuguese well. They have a number of cows and sheep and produce fresh milk and cheese (!). Those missionaries have been living there for over 15 years and have adapted well to live there. They told us stories of when elephants used to wander through the mission and when they could hardly travel because of terrible roads. The roads weren’t great, but at least they were travelable. We relaxed and ate well, went for hikes and spent a lot of time reading, grading, and visiting with the others there.

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Nicki, the woman who lives there, took us to see the school they run. I was very impressed in terms of a primary school in Mozambique. They had nice big classrooms, desks for their students, big blackboards, and even a small library.   They also ran a preschool that seemed to cater well to the students. They also had a small playground! I was very interested in the school. Unfortunately, they will be closing the school at the end of the year due to conflict with the government. Because their students are at a higher level than your average 5th graders, they believe that the government sees them as competition and won’t allow them to continue. They will, however, be continuing to run the preschool next year. Hopefully we will get to return at the end of the year to help them clean up the school!

The Preschool

The Preschool

Doesn't this look like a fun playground?

Doesn’t this look like a fun playground?

After such a relaxing time in Muapula, it was difficult to return to the hectic life here in Cuamba. With finals approaching, I was running all over the place. I wrote my final for my 10th graders, and then was told they would be using the standardized final instead of mine. Unhappy with this (I didn’t feel it accurately reflected my students learning from this trimester and I was somewhat bitter after having been ordered to write a final and then told it would not be used), I asked the ped director if he would use mine for my classes. He agreed. As I could not proctor the exams, however, my students cheated a lot. I am still looking for ways to get through to them on why cheating is bad…

This coming month is bound to be busy with my IFP teaching, the conference in Nampula, and my JUNTOS event. I’m sure it’ll pass in a flash!

Portuguese word of the day: Prova (test)

French word of the day: Interro (quiz)

Macua word of the day: Kophia (I arrived)