Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm not much into health food, I am into champagne

This past weekend I made the trek (five hours for what in a private car would be a little over an hour . . . apparently I looked like a super-sketchy hitchhiker that day as no one would stop) to Mapinhane for Passover 2.0. This is actually the first holiday I've celebrated twice since site placements (Thanksgiving was in Namaacha year 1 and Inhassoro in year 2), so it was awesome to reflect on how much things had changed in the last year. While Passover was amazing last year, this year it involved eight people and twice as much food/etc as the year before (I'm quite proud to say that I contributed a flourless chocolate cake with a fresh passion fruit syrup - Martha in moz for the win). While last year's Passover seems simultaneously FOREVER ago and like yesterday, the fact that I am able to teach chem in Portuguese without grasping for dear life onto my notebook (and not trembling with fear every time someone has a question) is just one example of how much has changed and how much I have learned.

Rewinding the calendar a bit (to the day before) another example of how much more confident I am about life/Portuguese/chem/school/etc is that I was actually able to respond when my vice-principal started chewing me out. Usually I am so upset/close to tears that the only language I am able to speak is English - which does me absolutely no good as she doesn't speak any English. The Thursday before I headed to Passover I stopped by the school to finish entering my grades in the livros de turma (books containing all of the info for every class). I had a quick question about the format and since I'm trying to have more positive interactions with the vice-principal, I went to ask her about the correct way to fill in the book. Of course, despite the fact that my grades are infinitely better than they were last year (97% pass rate in English!), she started yelling at me for the zeros that I had given my students for cheating and told me that they made the livro look ugly (which obviously should be my chief concern in life). I replied that they had cheated and that's the way I run my classes cheating = zero. The students are informed in advance and if they choose not to study it's their own fault. She told me that, while she understood, there are always two ways of looking at things and that the district office was going to say that I wasn't a good teacher and they may decide not to have Peace Corps Volunteers in the future. Of course this was her oh-so-passive aggressive way of saying (yet again) that I fail as a teacher. But this time I was finally able to confront her about the whole thing and informed her that I'm one of the only teachers that is there every single day and in the classroom for the full 45 minutes and that if she has a problem with my teaching she needs to talk to me about it (plus I know the district won't decide to not have pcvs - they haven't paid teachers on time for the last four months so I'm fairly certain they need all the free help they can get). She got really flustered (victory!) and said that no, I must have misunderstood her, she thinks I am a wonderful teacher (lies, but there is only so much I could address in one conversation). Anyways, the conversation went on and she still probably thinks I'm the worst teacher at the school, but I feel SO much better now that I was finally able to calm down enough to argue the point in Portuguese.

I spent Easter in Inhassoro, in one of my favorite churches in the world (check out the pictures that I posted in an earlier blog post). After spending thirty minutes during mass on Holy Thursday kneeling in prayer on a hard wooden bench (American Catholics are much less intense about this whole kneeling/long mass thing), I was slightly concerned about the rest of Semana Santa. But Easter mass was wonderful (albeit without a live goat being carried to the altar as part of the offering - I was kind of disappointed). And I made a passion fruit cream pie for dessert - another Martha in moz moment. Although I'm looking forward to masses in English instead of Xitswa when I get back to the States, I'm going to miss the enthusiasm and genuine happiness that is present in every mass here (if anyone knows of Catholic Masses in the States that involve clapping during the songs and carrying live goats to the altar, let me know).

And the best news of all - it's almost tangerine season 

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