Agenda of a Mozambican Meeting

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will get you everywhere.” –Albert Einstein

For any of you who were wondering what a typical Mozambican meeting is like, here’s your typical agenda (which can be applied to anything, though today’s topic was interdisciplinary teaching):

  1. Wait for the chefes (the important people) to come.
  2. Stand up to greet them.
  3. Sit and listen to a short (but not all that short) speech about how this is important for the government and you are important for the government and the future, then stand up as he leaves. Lucky for him, he only has to stay so long.
  4. Be greeted by all the other chefes and hear a short speech that doesn’t really say anything…
  5. The facilitator (one of the chefes) will introduce a colleague who will then introduce a topic. He will use good questioning techniques to begin his presentation, and unfortunately be thwarted by the fact that, just like in a classroom, no one really wants to respond to the questions.
  6. The Chefe will “teach” by lecturing, only including the audience by having them complete almost-completed words (ex. “recursos de comun…. Comunidade.”)
  7. Participants will ask fairly close-minded questions and then chefe will not fully answer them. (ex. What do we say to men who demand money after their wives helped us do our community project? Answer: we do what the community wants us to do.)
  8. Everyone will be split into groups in a really vague manner and won’t be told where each group is meeting.
  9. Give people 30 minutes to eat their snack of an egg sandwich and pop.
  10. Once in your group, go around the circle and share everyone’s ideas. (Ex. What animals are raised in your community? Goats, Chickens, Cows, Ducks…)
  11. Discuss ideas for over an hour without getting anywhere.
  12. Discuss options we won’t choose just because they are options, then argue about them (not everyone has cows, you know…).
  13. Talk in circles.
  14. Make a draft of our poster by first labeling it as Grupo 2 and drawing annoyingly straight lines using some sort of straight edge.
  15. Realize we don’t really understand the instructions and have them explained 15 times. Then still discuss exactly what we’re supposed to do.
  16. Run out of time and go over when copying the draft hurriedly onto papel gigante.
  17. But first, spend 30 minutes trying to explain to the one member who doesn’t understand.
  18. Start on a new topic after your allotted hour and a half has already finished.
  19. Finally break for lunch, and then sit outside since lunch isn’t ready.
  20. Decide to start presentations since lunch is delayed.
  21. Have a group present their work, then let other participants tear them apart for entirely unrelated and unimportant things (the draft wasn’t exactly the same as the final poster).
  22. The chefe will conclude the debate by re-explaining the points we understood and using English to try to seem impressive (It is time!)
  23. Take an hour-long lunch break, even though it is already 2:10pm and you are supposed to end at 4.
  24. Return to the unproductiveness of before, adding some more confusion with a skit about a car that has nothing to do with anything.
  25. Skip the rest of the presentations because we’re almost out of time.
  26. Bring that first chefe in again to give a closing statement to thank everyone (and scold them a little). We applaud even though we hated the experience and just want to get out of here.
  27. Fugir (make a run for it!) when you finally get out 30-60 min late, though not before the light has to be turned on because it’s getting dark!

While interdisciplinary teaching certainly is an important topic and I quite enjoy creating curriculums and lesson planning, it is difficult to work on the same level as 8 Mozambican school directors who have never used or considered this approach to teaching. Especially when they consider themselves to be above me and don’t value creativity in the classroom, it can lead to a frustrating day. Luckily my roommate and I know how to make light of the situation through lists and such!

Other than that, things are going pretty well! My JUNTOS group is planning on distributing mosquito nets, painting a mural, and participating in Peace Corps English Theater. They seem excited! I’ve had a pretty consistent attendance of 30-35 at my French club too. Also, I’m a new member of the Malaria Task Force’s Curriculum Committee, so I’ll be helping write curriculums to teach about malaria. My students are still excited and curious, and I’m looking forward to where the year goes from here. It’s already moving fast!

Portuguese word of the day: A tese (thesis statement- what I’m teaching in my technology class)

French word of the day: Rendez-vous (meeting between friends. It’s so elegant!)

Macua word of the day: Ebuku (book)


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