Friday, April 20, 2007

Brief update

I haven't used the internet for over a month now. Since the news here is local, I might have missed some newsworthy occurrence. If so, please email me the clipping.

In Brief: So much to say, so many better things to do than sit down and type…
Work, work, work. It's one of those activities that I watch more than I do. The long hours expected of all teachers and students surely breaks some basic human rights. After an initial repugnance to restarting a school schedule that I swore to myself that I would never again submit to, I found a way to work smarter not harder. It's a bit like swimming, why thrash against the water when there's a way to glide? So long as I communicate with people and make myself available at certain scheduled times, I'm at liberty to have "flexi-time." While I can struggle to read and write and translate documents, instead I can simply ask many other people for their opinions on, say, the fundraising situation at the beach. These conversations not only inform me about the details but also remind other people about the situation. It seems as if these types of reminders organize people far better than any wall calendar. Meanwhile the maid is stuck at home cooking and doing the laundry, and while I envy the tranquility I relish my freedom.

Meeting, meetings, meeting. On Saturdays the teachers gather to make plans, and I try my best to stay awake when they're reading lists and repeating themselves. The productivity of a meeting is inversely proportional to its endlessness. Some activities don't need a cultural translation. On a more positive note, the sensation of captivity helped me notice the reason for the sluggishness of my English students and led me to liven things up. This justifies fun.

Can I have your computer, can I have your computer, can I have your computer? It's the first time to use a computer for many. With all the exciting photos and music, the act of playing with media disguises the improvised lessons. Many ask seriously if they can have my computer, my hat, my pencil forever. How many times must I repeat myself? Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I have a well of patience which I dip into occasionally.

Energy, energy, energy, or lack thereof. My addiction to caffeine harms nobody but actually wastes energy, since a whole new fire must be lit to boil the water for this luxury. Now it's my guilty pleasure and I must summon different reserves of energy. Incidentally, one method of curing the boredom induced by long meetings is hacking at a coconut with a machete.

The people, the people, the people. You never know who you're going to meet or where they're going to invite you or what new food they'll present. Each week varies with opportunities. Although the only people crazy enough to accompany me on my walks to the nearest beach are children, who giggle and squawk and skip. We whistle the Mozambican national anthem on the way back after a swim. The adults are just as friendly, but more complicated. The politics of power at the school are more difficult to overcome. The organization has many levels of importance of which I am entirely oblivious, which makes me the perfect person to throw into the situation to ask questions. My Portuguese may be poor, but still I talk enough to cause a stir.

In sum, I am encountering moments of both extreme frustration and joy. I'm looking forward to more. What luck that I ended up at THIS project!

Bye for now,