Friday, November 21, 2008
Did I mention that my school was given 31 computers and that 22 of them are for students to use that that I am the only teacher at school qualified to give the IT lessons? That's pretty exciting for me, since IT is so important and I think I will be able to win a lot more interest from the students than i did in my English classes. I had some problems such as convincing the school admin to put the protective fabric over the hard drive tower under the table, rather than over monitor on the table, and the windows in the once library study room now IT room are venetian style slats of glass that open and close like blinds, allowing the dust to come in during windstorms, of which there were several.
Anyway, the two of the computers have a virus, kxvo.exe, and I'm not enough of a computer nerd to fix them...yet. I'm doing lots of reading from windows help and today on the internet to try and become a computer guru as quickly as possible. Hopefully I'll even be able to learn something about hardware before the beginning of next year. If you are a computer nerd I would like to have your advice about what I can do to secure the computers, how to set up workgroups and etc. Mostly I need good virus removal programs that might remove viruses from flash drives and prevent new flash drives from infecting my computers (a "condom" if you will).
In other news, I recently made a bike trip with two friends to the old Mambone, the site where the Muslims and later Portuguese used to run their trade operations at the mouth of the Save River. There are no buildings there to be seen, it's just a beach but a beautiful one at that. I also got a ride with my friend Dr. Nilton who was going around to visit all of the hospitals in our rurul district, all the ones in the interior, far away from the beach and to the West of the national highway. For the first time I really had my eyes opened about what rural means in a rural context: it means the wilderness. Especially in one of the main destination towns, named Jofane, there's literally nothing there but the straw roofed homes and the health station, built by Save the Children UK after the 2000 floods, unfortunately its about 8 km to the nearest water source so I don't know why it was built where it is. The rest of the small communities seemed equally isolated but at least they were, you know, on the way to Jofane, so that my surprise upon reaching the destination was a shock. Not that it's all bad out there, there was a site named Matata that was on the river and I immediately thought of my grandfather's friend Norm, who likes to watch birds. There was a huge ledge where the river water made an ever-fresh swamp, FULL of birds, and nice views around, including a farm which made use of a water pump from the river to bolster production. After the day in the back of the Land Cruiser I was bruised considerably...on my ass, it hurt to sit down. I got to buy the front leg of an impala type animal for about $5 and the front leg of a wild pig (not a boar but a wild pig with squiggly tale) for a little over $2. The pig was already missing its head (the best part) and one hind leg when we saw it tied up on the back of a bicycle again...in the middle of nowhere or to be more clear on a dirt road no less than half an hour by fast moving car from the national highway.
What else I'm up to...making a handbag out of palm frongs with my local language teacher, whose helped me get much better in the local language, i can assist conversations now and stammer out some words now and then. I can fix my bike tire by myself now, whether a patch or replacing the tube. I also fixed my 200 liter water tank from which the nozzle had shot off, that was quite a project since I could not fit my hand into the barrel far enough to hold the nut on the inside of the tank. In short I could say that so much of the things I own are pirata (junk) and so Iºve gotten better at McGuyvering things.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
artist: Lucky Dube
song: Remember me
This song is great because he is singing to his father who left his family and never came back. Many families have a similar situation and many children are growing up without a father, but this song is beautiful because the voice of the singers singing "Remember Me" can haunt the man who has left wife and children behind in the backcountry exactly where he feels its safe to hide from that sort of troublesome worry: in the bar. Lucky Dube is way popular and I picture a men in bars all over Johannesburg choking back regret and maybe, even planning to send some money back home as promised to their forgotten family.
a bit more electric than i'd remembered. You'll feel it, how light and happy and cheerful it is, that's about how I feel about my life here, I'm still loving it. Just did a field trip with my journalism kids (ten of them) they met kids from another school here and, miraculously, the whole thing went off without a hitch. That is VERY unusual. Case in point, last weekend on the way to the English theater competition my chapa full of students broke down 3 times (it was overheating) and then we got sardined into a new chapa for the 6 hour bumpy ride and arived late.
I've been looking for the name of this song for about 9 months now and finally got the name of the song from a South African guy who runs the new internet cafe in Vilanculos.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The next is more profound, it was the adjective used by Michael, perhaps the oldest person in my group even though he's only 29 or was at the time. He used the word "post-apocalyptic" to describe Namaacha and I think it was pretty spot on. Any old city you visit here has splendid ruins of the Portuguese colonial rule, many of them are now in dis-repair but still constitute prime real estate. Thus it is not uncommon for me to enter what would seem to be a normal bathroom, and then use the manual flush method to get my turds under the water level of the bowl. In other words, you dip a bucket into a barrel of water and then pour that bucket into the bowl and voila, most of your poop is gone down the drain. Did you know that this was possible? I did not, and I still catch myself in a state of amazement now and then. Another thing that makes this post-apocalyptic is the pot-holes, but let me not go into that too much. I, for one, am a big fan of the post-apocalyptic architecture aesthetic as all of these buildings and rooms and ruins have SO MUCH CHARACTER just like the taxis and bicycles and whatever else you want. To hell with fresh paint jobs!
I live in my own house now, that is the biggest development that makes my life so enjoyable nowadays. My school director and I butted heads pretty severely while I lived in his house, which was miserable. I did, however, get started on a screenplay which I think will be a big hit. It is a sequel to the film, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” called “My Big Fat Stupid Wife” and did I mention how argumentative and irritating their houseboy “empregado” was and still is? But that’s all in the past, and now I just ignore my only neighbors to the greatest extent possible. Once I get outside the school, there are some neighbors that I do go and visit or say hi to. My favorite is the little kids, who say “dTah-dtah” (the d and t are lost in each other) which is their imitation of “boa tarde” or good afternoon, and they sound like teletubbies and make me smile immediately when they say it while getting all excited and waving. One of the biggest rewards for me is that I’m not scared of kids anymore like I was in the USA. I still don’t know how to hold a baby or change a diper, but I’m not scared of babies or toddlers anymore. Kind of like that treatment for arachnophobia where you overcome it by being COMPLETELY SURROUNDED by the thing you were scared of. Most of the women that you see around town are have a baby in tow on their back. That’s another thing…the capulana…I haven’t adequately described how wonderful it is. The capulana is a measure of one meter of colorful fabric which the women wear for skirt, maybe sown into a shirt or cut into a headwrap. To carry a baby in a capulana, you first bend over and lay the baby on your back, then you wrap the low end of the cloth under the baby’s butt (leave the legs hanging) and high end at about baby’s neck or head and then put one end of the cloth over your shoulder and the other end of the cloth under the opposite armpit, then tie in a knot in front. The babies look as comfortable as they could ever be, utterly content.
Two good travel stories I can share is from my week-long trip to Lichinga. What a party! And these are definitely my stories, as anyone who knows me well would be able to tell. Anyway, I had been developing feelings for a nearby PCV who was one of my best friends even from day 1 or 2 of training. Since her last name is also Harris, we were always in the same groups. I thought something might happen between her and I but enter a beautiful girl on summer break from App State (NC!), not Peace Corps, she had rafted up with some Peace Corps girls in Malawi and was now tagging along. Well our eyes were locked for the first minute at least of our conversation and I was feeling love at first site, but also in denial of it because I was already into the pangs loneliness pretty deep at that time and really would have preferred not to be distracted from a sustainable relationship I’d been working toward for some time. I talked to her too much and then accepted to go with her to Lake Niassa where she and the others had gotten off of the ferry that goes around the lake between Malawi and Mozambique. The ferry is called the “Ilala” and when I saw my friends get off that ship I would have sworn they were being redeemed from Bob Marley’s bottomless pit (they’d traveled second class, or steerage, the other white people had all stayed up on the top deck and enjoyed privelages like a place to lie down or use a nice bathroom and drink water during the more than 24 hour ride). This girl had not had her passport stamped, no one had, and rumors had her worried that she would have problems upon leaving the country if she did not have the stamp showing that she had returned to Mozambique. She did not speak good Portugues. She didn’t hardly know anyone. She was scared and oh so alone. OK, so when I went to get up with her at 4am in the bitter cold, my sweater and passport were in my bag which Rachel Harris was using as a pillow. I couldn’t bring myself to wake her up. So I used my survival blanket as a shawl and we went for the 3-4 hour ride out to the lake. It was so nice, though I tried not to notice or not to get swept up in my company, because I did not want to feel guilty when I got back home and saw Rachel, who I wasn’t even nearly dating at the time (thanks, a lot, Catholic upbringing, for my guilty guilty conscience). When we got to the customs office, luckily we were given a chance to explain our request before the guy asked to see both of our passports. Of course I didn’t have mine, I didn’t need it stamped, so I’d left it in Lichinga. So the guy calculated the fine for her to pay, she had been in country illegally for two days so…$2,000Mt (about $80USD) and it was difficult to play hardball when he could have been a jerk about me not having my passport but with a combination of displaying how frayed our nerves were and how scared we were of having messed up and been illegal and in the end after I asked him to show me the fee schedule where it outlines the fees for this specific situation he dropped the fine to a very reasonable $200Mt or so, which was, as I could see on the wall, the actual processing fee. But I want to point out something here and that is that people in Mozambique are great. He could have been a real jerk about my not having a passport as I am required by law to have it at all times but he’s a human being, he’s a good guy, he’s really only asking for the big sum of money because…why not? Maybe she would have happily paid to get the whole thing over with.
At the end of the trip, another damsel in distress appeared. This time it was Rachel, who wanted to try and get on board our flight if possible since it had originally sold out and forced her to get back to her site a few days late. As it turned out, check-in was a madhouse and Samantha and I (all 3 of us were good friends since our intensive language learning class together) decided to wait it out since, after all, we had confirmed reservations and would rather peacably enjoy company than elbow someone in the face for 1 hour while waiting in the 20 puppies per one tit check-in line. Eventually the tension in the line grew to fever pitch and I became aware that missing the flight was now more than just a possibility. We got in line and about half an hour later the engines started and the plane took off..without us. The First Lady had commandeered about 15 seats for her and her entourage to get back to Maputo. Tough luck, peasants. So we had an adventure trying to get things sorted out. The next day, we were back in the lines trying to get an ear of one of the 4 incompetent people in charge of check-in. Samantha had recommended that if Rachel and I pretended to be married (same last name) this might up the chances of her getting on board the flight. In the end, I think I deserved an oscar for my work as the wounded husband. I just want to travel with my wife, we’re teachers, etc. etc. and one kind soul behind the counter eventually just gave her a boarding pass. On the tarmac, someone came on board and tried to make her deboard the plane because there must have been some kind of mistake (the 2nd time I’ve seen this happen on my 5 flights in country, the first time it happened to me and 2 others) well WTF, man, then you shouldn’t have given her a boarding pass! She stayed on board it was fun. OK, you had to be there.
The highway that passes by our school is the only paved road in the area, connecting the town of Mambone to National Highway # 1. While sitting in the passenger seat of my senor director’s car, I realized that a safety hazard exists because this road serves as a dual purpose playground for kids / audobon. Since maybe only 2-5 cars pass each hour, the road is predominantly used as a footpath. These cross-purposes of the road make for some interesting close calls, especially considering that pedestrians do not have the right of way. Liberal use of the horn gives the pedestrians loitering in the middle of the street about 5 seconds to clear out or be smashed by the fast moving car. Hitch-hiking is pretty safe here because it’s not like the U.S. where just anyone can have a car. Only someone of significant means and social standing can afford to have one, and they are often willing to pick up a neighbor as a spare passenger on the way to town or even pick up a well-seeming stranger. As a muzongo, people are automatically less suspicious of me and more interested in giving me a ride, but that’s not to say that all or even most rich Mozambicans will stop to pick me up. In fact, last time I saw lots of private cars pass before finally being picked up by a semi-truck, and I had to pay (usually in a private car the ride is free). That was cool, I got to sit way up high and see the life that country music singers so often talk about.
There was what is called here an "infelicidade" or an unhappiness, which I will tell you about.
Having read Newsweek in the ambulance which was illegally giving me a free ride (ssshhhhhh!) to Vilanculos with my friend the Dr., I mused on economics and particularly an op-ed by yet another foolishly hardy liberal who accused Reagan of not being an economic conservative because of his combination of deficit spending matched with tax cuts--a.k.a. the Reaganomics that won the Cold War--I decided definitevly that I will return to my old job at First American if they will take me back in order to create a better business environment between the US and Brazil, which I imagine would be needed for us to get into a healthy market and ease some of the pressure from domestic slow-down. Fresh on my mind was the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, images which evidenced the epic proportions of a penchant for empire and related ambitions and topped off by the truly moving finale of the gold medal winner of old, legendary, running in air, which wet my eyes when I stumbled into a televised living room just in time to see it. I want to see more US ecomonic involvement abroad, I think our companies are cleaner than the competition, say what you will. I slept, opposite a girl whose broken femur had not healed correctly and had left her with a 3rd knee, I fancied that my Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) training helped me understand why, the traction brace on her leg was made to tight and held the bones too far apart. I was awakened by the Dr., our car was stopped and there was talk of a child who had been run over by a car. I got my shoes on and hopped out with untied laces. Again the WAFA fantasy that I might be able to know or do something but I was with a Dr. so of course I quickly realized that he was the only person necessary at this time. I watched, he put his hand over the child's stomach under the ribs and waited, maybe 30 seconds to a minute, while family and the distraught driver that had hit him looked on, and pronounced the child dead. Of the 3 black men in the family, one had eyes that spoke particularly loud of remorse, pain, and deprivation, through redness and wetness. The white man present, the driver, a Zimbabwean, was helpless, distraught, innocent and concerned. His family, wife and 4 small children, remained crammed in the 3rd and final row of the parked car, which was loaded and was full of vacationer's happy bags and disorganized bundles, so out of key with the current mood. While the child continued to lay, lifeless, on the carbon fiber trailer, the turned to what to do now. They had been on their way to the hospital in Inhassoro when they flagged down the ambulance. I tried to pass responsibility on to my friends in Inhassoro but they did not answer their phones, and reluctantly I gave up my shot at internet in Vilanculos to be the translater. Hospital, police station, hospital, scene of the accident, and court date set for the following Monday. I have to say that I enjoyed all of this probably too much, it was just so interesting and out of the normal, and my position was certainly enviable, since I had nothing to lose, was not facing jailtime with a child's life on my conscience, had not lost a family member. Anyway, overall I thought the police were very civil and efficient in handling everything, just that the civil court extorted a bunch of money from the guy to be held "in escrow" until the insurance comes through, I can't believe he'll ever get it back. I felt like a lawyer, and even right before we parted ways I read his insurance policy when he had finally won back his freedom and advised him as best I could how to interpret the policy and that he had to insist on them showing him the exception, since he was otherwise covered for this incident as I could tell.
The child had run out a driveway, clear across one lane of traffic and into the opposite lane while chasing a bicycle tire rim he was pushing with a stick (a favorite game here) and despite skid and swerve the car hit him. The driver says he was going 80km/hr and I could tell he wasn't drunk at the time, innocent. So just remember, when you're driving in Africa, use your horn like it was going out of style, even before you see the kids near the street.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I will insert my draft of the scholarships information to be disseminated to all PCVs at mid/service. Not to blow my own horn or anything, but to date the only thing other pcvs have been willing to do for this project is specutative brainstorming and discussion, so what you see below is the result of things I do when I'm not writing the blog.
General talking points
It is recommended that you encourage your students to seek educational opportunities in
HELP only sponsors students at local universities and I would recommend anyone else think about doing the same for several reasons. My experience is that poor kids in poor countries are interested in leaving and sending them abroad at 18 makes it easier for them not to return. Secondly, education abroad is many times more expensive than local education, so there is much more bang for the buck when you keep kids close to home which means you can support more deserving kids. Additionally poor kids, being less sophisticated than wealthy ones, have a hard time adjusting to university life in their own country so the adjustments are often overwhelming abroad. Lastly, every country needs to develop its own university system and sending top students to local schools strengthens the local system.
That being said… If your student shows an intense desire to study abroad, as a counselor you will want to support your student in researching these possibilities, so we have addressed that in the ‘international scholarships’ below.
In order to apply, students must submit the following documentation:
· Proof of completion of grade 12
· Proof of acceptance into a Mozambican university
· Declaration of poverty (referral from the student’s Chefe do Bairro indicating financial need must be brought to the Conselho Municipal in order to have this document issued)
· Declaração historical: Similar to a cover letter, in which the student describes their education and work history. *CV not required
· Ficha de candidatura: This is an official form in which the student’s personal details are provided, along with grades and a report on the student’s behavior provided by the Direction of the school
The applications are evaluated by a committee (of about 10 people for Niassa) and the award winners (apurados) are selected. The evaluation of applications is done using a point system, with extra points being awarded for female candidates, disabled persons, younger candidates (under 20) and candidates from rural districts, a.k.a. the matu. ________________We need more info here on the rest of the criteria, are there merit-based points for good grades? How many? As you noticed, the point system encourages award to women and rural students who have historically been underrepresented in the HEIs.
These students who win the scholarship must sign a contract before receiving funds and renew the contract yearly. This contract specifies that the student must return to and work for the province which provided the scholarship for x number of years. In the case of breach of contract, the matter is brought to the tribunal (the courts).
There are plans to open a National Instituto de Bolsas de Estudo in or shortly after 2009. The Instituto will ___________ and will also As of 2008, the fundo provincial de bolsas de Nampula ran out of money and is waiting to receive more money from the Instituto when it opens.
List of existing Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and school costs
Because UEM is financed by the government and donors, tuition fees are greatly subsidized and represent only a small fraction of the cost of attending UEM. By contrast, the majority of the funding for
UP is traditionally an option for students who
From MESCT website?
History of HEI Reform and Scholarships in
This scholarship project was financed by the
This organization operated in Niassa province and was financed by either
This organization also provided some scholarships (in Nampula province?) but gave control of their scholarships over to the government.
World Bank pilot scholarship
In 2002, the World Bank allocated US $60 million toward an overhaul of
The overhaul also included a pilot Provincial Scholarship program which was the impetus of the current system. $2 million were provided to 500 students for undergraduate scholarships for students in the provinces of Cabo Delgado,
Global Partnership Fund
A collaborative effort of several foundations (Ford, Rockefellar, Carnegie, John and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation), this consortium does research and also provides targeted grants to improve quality of and access to higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The majority of funding for study abroad is for post-graduate study rather than undergraduate study, which may complicate your student’s ability to find an appropriate funding source.
In English-speaking countries:
Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships:
A place to get started on the internet:
From the website:
The International Education Financial Aid Website, www.IEFA.org , is the premier Internet resource listing financial aid information for students who wish to study in a foreign country. At this site you will find the most comprehensive listing of grants, scholarships, loan programs and other information to assist students in their quest to study abroad.
IEFA.org was created in January 1998. Since that time the site has developed a database of over 1,000 programs of financial aid for international education. Some resources are specific to the student's home country or field of study while others are more general.
As of July 2008, there were 220 scholarships listed in their database for the location ‘Unrestricted/Worldwide’ and 800 scholarships for all locations, including many scholarships to study in the U.S.
Award type (fellowship, internship, grant, loan, scholarship, tuition waiver)
Location of school or organization offering scholarship
Professional Development Scholarships
A common form of bolsas de estudo which you may hear about at site or be asked about by colleagues is awarded to a government employee in recognition of past achievement and a promising future. This could generally be considered as a promotion in which the funds for the scholarship are provided by the Instituto or branch of government which awarded it. This sort of scholarship is generally not relevant to our students.
Availability of Student Loans
Secondary School Scholarships
OVC and Acção Social
Scholarships/Financial Aid at
UCM was founded for the express purpose of addressing the structural injustice/imbalance of having the country’s only HEI located in
Most of the non-government funded HEIs have what is called a ‘zero semester’ to prepare entering students for the rigors of their study (this semester can be skipped if the entering student has good grades coming in). UCM dedicates a whole ‘propaedeutic year’ to the same purposes.
The non-governmental HEIs do not run their own
scholarship schemes. UCM is adamant that the provision of
scholarships should not be a function of the universities
themselves but of specific institutions set up for that purpose. (P. 91Case Study)
RE: the above quote, why does the UCM website advertise the newly created ‘UCM Foundation’ as a means to attract donor contributions. Case study says as of 2003 UCM was trying to start a student loan system with banks in
SCHOLARSHIPS FROM UEM
Historically there have been instances where “Because of poor communications and labyrinthine bureaucracy, many students from the north or centre who gain scholarships to UEM find out too late that they have won them. By that time they have been taken up by better informed candidates.” (Case Study, p.33)
From page 89 of the Case Study, we see that UEM has its own internal scholarship program with about 1000 spots awards are predominantly merit-based with some affirmative action. The Social Services Directorate (DSS) at UEM provides
assistance for students in the form of subsidized accommodation
and meals, mostly for scholarship recipients. how/when does one apply for a UEM scholarship and will they be displaced by the Instituto?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
My most recent trip to Maxixe and Inhambane made me feel like he’s one of the best friends I have here, hard to explain why. Most of the expats I’ve met are incredibly interesting people, but they have hard eyes and personalities that for example steel up under my searching eye like a fortress raising a drawbridge over a moat. Expats are guarded people, I’ve decided, perhaps I will change my mind. Case in point, you are likely to be in some way anti-social if you choose to leave your own society. During my stay in Inhambane, I was supposed to stay at Philip’s house with his family—his parents were visiting from Germany and his kids were just too cute, I could tell his oldest son doesn’t have enough time with other kids because he took me by the hand and took me straight to the playroom section of the house but not like a brat, just like someone who immediately accepted me as a friend without first putting me through any kind of scrutiny or wanting me to be other than myself, a lot like his father took me as a friend. Anyway that was great because I’m only just now figuring out how to interact with kids and they are such a delight to be around when they’re not crying or pooping a.k.a. when they are toddlers.
When Philip and I went out to get pizza, by chance we crossed some other expats, one of whom I’d met before when his band came to my school and did a 20 minute anti-AIDS songs performance. Soon enough I was in a car with perfect strangers headed to a house party in swanky Tofo beach. Never ceases to amaze me how disinterested and unfriendly hippies can be, maaan. Seemed like no matter which circle of conversation I tried to nudge into people were too caught up to notice me or welcome me in, such a cool crowd like Hollywood or something. Some guys at the party were musicians and DAMN were they good! But otherwise kind of a bust and I wished I’d skipped the party.
1. Bank card. I hadn’t used my bank card in over a month and when I got to the ATM it seemed I had forgotten my PIN code but how? I only ever use 2 numbers. I must have changed it last time I used the bank and not taken enough note of it, so like me. As a result I was bankrupt during my trip to Maputo in March, for Regionals, and unable to buy the things I thought I needed (I stupidly went around a fancy store that is like Target of the U.S., picked all the stuff I thought I needed and found out at the register that they don’t take American Express. When I walked away, the realization that I didn’t actually need any of that crap on the check out table was a real liberation). I was told in Vilanculos that “the system” wasn’t working to make cards, try again later. Then while I was in Beira, 2nd biggest city, I spent two full days in the bank “waiting to hear back from Maputo” followed by “well you see, the system’s having trouble...” and in the end I was sent away without a new bank card. Shortly after I was talking with another PCV and learned that she too had PIN code trouble, the bank had forgot hers and she still didn’t have a new card. WHAT!? So it was the BANK that forgot MY pin code during its merger with Barclays? If I’d have known that during my two days in Beira I’d have pleaded my case a bit differently. Anyway shortly after back in the small city of Vilanculos I spent another whole day in the bank and at the close of business they finally gave me a card. I decided that if I work in Africa later in life it will be to fight the sort of idiotic inefficiency that keeps busy businessmen and women standing in line in UTTER unproductivity for hours on end.
2. Chapa drivers as kidnappers. Another funny thing about riding in the chapa is that you are at the mercy of the driver once you get inside. The worst drivers exploit this fully, not only in charging you up front for the trip in order to have money to stop for gas once you’re in the car, but also to make personal errands while the 15-16 passengers watch the minutes and hours of their day slipping through their hands like grains of sand.3. I’ve been waiting for my house to be built since December. It’s June 6th and it’s still not ready for me to move in though it’s REALLY close to being ready. Of the various problems that have interceded:- the original contracted builder got sick and went MIA before starting work, we ran out of straw to build the house 2/3 of the way through the walls—possibly due to shrinkage- the guy who was supposed to do the concrete floor drowned drunk in the river and was apparently paid in full before completing the work—all he finished of my house before his death was building the square foundation about two cinder blocks high and all around the house.
I'm trying to upload the photos now, not much luck so slow
Friday, May 16, 2008
School is tough, iºm too much of a disciplinarian but i'm teaching 8th grade and i guess thatºs about half of what it means to teach that grade. problem is a canºt loosen up around them because as soon as i do they think its ok to start acting like little punks again. iºm having anger issues. my favorite is the night school, a lot like the sitcom 'Night Court' which you might remember fondly as i do, though i was 3 when i saw it and understood nothing. the teachers hang out in the teachers lounge and bullshit to avoid going home, i guess, and the lessons themselves go SO MUCH BETTER because the students are adults and i can treat them more like equals. i can joke, they laugh at my joke, then we get back on task. one false move with the kids and they go out of control and there goes the rest of the lesson. The little children here, who are still in the rye-field, those kids are just plain beautiful, but...8th graders. iºm working on it, got to be more positive.
Also, my house is coming along. I guarantee you it will flood in the first medium to hard rain, no matter how many Mozambican engineers tell me 'no ha de entrar agua' which is 'water wonºt come into the house' just a simple assertion, repeated again and again despite the laws of physics, by the builders. Iºm in Maxixe now buying some stuff to make it more livable, like an electric hotplate. Write to me!
Monday, May 5, 2008
I recently bought an MP3 player and speakers that hook up to it, I promise I'll share your music with others here. later,
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I just uploaded a bunch of photos of my recent (and not so recent--I finally got to some fast internet here in Beira) travels, just follow the flickr photo link to the right if you want to see them. I regret that I did not bring the CD with the best photos taken by my kids at the journalism conference. I also got 2 amazing photos by our trainer, a veteran photo-journalist working out of Chimoio named Sergio Silva, but they are hard copy you'll have to wait till i have them scanned. He was a great guy, full of gripping stories. After all, he worked as a photographer for Save the Children during the war and you can imagine that working in that kind of environment he's seen, and photographed, a lot.
Hopefully I can fill in some gaps for you in some subsequent blog entries...basically the first trimester is over and I'm starting a photo-journalism group with funding from Peace Corps and I'm in the process of hopefully getting some more funding.
Call me sometime!!! You've got my number on this blog. Else write an email, or send me something in the mail, that address is on the website too. later my friends
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I notice in looking back on what I've written so far that I probably have not sufficiently communicated how much I love this place. For starters you've got all these things that are pleasing to the eye. For example, unspoilt nighttime skies with shooting stars through a milky way that is just clear as day across the sky. Roads and walkways with texture brought about by erosion, nature is everywhere here, even in urban areas. The tall weedy grass does what it wants and people don't so much concern themselves with cutting it just because it's there. Clothes on children that testify to having lived themselves out to the point where you could hardly call that shirt a shirt--this reminds me of Ulysses drinking life to the dregs. The taxis I ride in are full of character and are utilized to the maximum possible. Once the car is full of people it just feels right, utilizing the resource and appreciating it in this way. Another thing is that in a world of few distractions and diversions the people around you become most important as your source of enjoyment in life. People have sincere interest during conversations, and I feel like the simple "good morning"s of passersby can replace a longer conversation in the states because they were spoken with such interest and sincerity and even enthusiasm. I'd say that is the main reason I love Mozambique, is the interpersonal relations. Worth highlighting is that I used to be scared of children, but now I love them.
And lets not forget that although I may be hungry for fresh produce at times, my ego is not all that hungry here. I get to be an important person, and enjoy status here as a result of my background, so it sometimes seems I'm more welcome than the average person to talk to head honchos in the community like Sr. Padre Amadeus, the head of the Catholic mission, or for example my namesake Greg, a South African guy who built a gas pipeline from Pande to Mambone and married a Mozambican woman and now lives here.
Another reason I love it here is because there's a lot of opportunity to serve others who are in need. I've not yet got to do that very much but now that I'm feeling well adjusted I'll be working more on outside projects other than school teaching.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Of that number 258 is the country code and 84 is the prefix for my cell provider. I hear skype is a cheap way to call me…
Please SEND ME MAIL or carepackages at my local mailbox, but nothing to fancy and under contents please write "school supplies".
My postal address is as follows:
On the subject of cell phones, I’d just like to say that the use of cellphones here is more widespread than you could possibly believe. It’s exceedingly rare that I make a friend who doesn’t have one. That doesn’t mean everyone has one, but it seems like most people have one.
The December 8th 2007 issue of the Economist gave out the annual “Innovation Awards” and gave one to Mo Ibrahim, founder of CelTel, for the promotion of mobile phones in Africa, showing that it’s possible to build a multi-billion dollar industry in Africa other than mining or oil.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Better still is when I’m in a crammed taxi and someone speaking the local language will say something about “muzungo” and of course I’m the only one around, so if I demonstrate my displeasure or say something to indicate I’m aware they act surprised and think that perhaps I speak the local language (again, Ace Ventura). Then I think they realize that they’re not the first person to call me muzongo. People have been quick to assure me that the origins of the word go back to “mu-lu-wanga” or something like that as spoken in Zulu of South Africa. When the first whites arrived there, as in America, they were friendly and so the origins of the word mean, “a good person”. I doubt if that’s what people are thinking when they call me muzongo, though I’m not sure exactly what they are thinking. I think its just standard labeling and distrust of foreigners being expressed with a word.
And before Grandpa can matriculate, he has to work in the schoolyard and clean the school grounds of the high grass that has accumulated over the summer break. They show up with a hoe and then have to turn the grass over with a hoe in order to kill because the school doesn’t have a lawnmower. Once the grass is dry it is gathered in put into heaps, again by students, and burned at night by the night-watchman, Sr. Joao. I have some photos to explain the process and will try to post.
The results is a surprisingly beautiful landscape where lush green grass grows up in the place where tall weeds used to be, as though Dr. Greenthumb had been used. Since I had to get used to giving orders to these kids, I was one of the overseers of this task during matricula. I did alright as a boss, but one day I was giving particularly large portions of grass per student and I swear there were about 15 kids all leaning on their hoes eyeing me and thinking of mutiny, I just barely managed to keep control and get them to go back to work.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Songs that I hear EVERYWHERE and ALL THE TIME
DJ Ardiles - Foto . This song was WAYYY popular
Nelson Freitas featuring Kaysha – Deeper. This song is a passada that is, a song for a close slow dance, complete with cheesy sexy lyrics in English.
Marlene - Esse Marido e meu 'that husband is mine (hands off!)'
Liza (or Lizha) James - Wo kala nbuya
Akon - "Nobody want to see us together"
Lucky Dube, South African Reggae
Mabulo Hlamalami, I think the name of the song is ‘outra vez’
Popular not recommended:
James Blunt (‘you’re beautiful’), Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, mention rock and they will say, ‘yeah, The Scorpions (the 80s band that played, comicly appropriate in this cyclone prone area, ‘Rock you like a Hurricane’),
Thursday, January 3, 2008
The big news is that I was evacuated out of my site on January 2nd due to Peace Corps Security Officer's concerns about floods at my site, Nova Mambone. You might be able to read about it on the news. Heavy rains in Zimbabwe drain in several rivers including the one that i live right nearby, and the road has been flooded in a few places. I'm hoping to write more about this at length tomorrow if i can get back to internet. Basically, though, a lot of the homes on the north side of the main road have been flooded and so people are out of their homes. The road was built in 2000 or 2003 or something, but it was designed very poorly and the experts didn't listen to the local people, including the Catholic priest at the mission near my house (who is very upset at the way things turned out). Basically, the road acts as a dam and keeps the floodwaters from passing through to the south side of the road, so many of the homes AND FARMS on the north side of the road are more prone to flooding as a result. It's plain to see that the road is to blame. At one point where the water was spilling over the road i observed a whirlpool on the one side, and on the other a 2 ft diameter concrete drain pipe spraying like a firehose into the lower lying south side of the road. the pipe was designed to alleviate the floodwaters, but the builders decided to skimp a little on the water management infrastructure and now that those builders have been paid and left its the community that bears the costs of their poorly executed project. I will need to do some more research into how this all came to pass. for photos see my flickr.com link to the right.