Want to know something hilarious?! White people. Soooo funny. That’s what I picked up from my school’s opening ceremony on the 17th. After speechifying on the past year’s challenges at Escola Secundária Paulo Samuel Kankhomba, my director began introducing all of the professors by discipline. Everyone was very quiet and respectfully-bored as he progressed through Portuguese, Chemistry, Philosophy, etc., but when Biology was called and the lone arrungo (white person in the local language) stood up, the hundreds of students watching the ceremony collectively lost it for a full five minutes. Divertíssimo I tell you.

Want to know what else is laughable?! The concept of a calendar. After that very official opening ceremony we very much so didn’t actually start even attempting classes for another week and a half. The remainder of week one of ano lectivo 2011 was filled with organizing the students’ turmas and the professors’ teaching schedules. I managed to nimbly dodge that bullet of responsibility through a handy combination of suddenly degraded Portuguese (You need help doing what? Eu não understando.) and some well-honed hide-and-seek skills.

My roommate John made the mistake of actually appearing competent and so was sucked into a week-long marathon of scheduling for 6,000+ students across three grades, three sections (Economy/Arts, Medicine/Sciences, and Engineering), three time blocks (morning, afternoon, and night classes), and three or four different campuses (due to classroom shortages). Add in severe professor shortages, the midweek transfer of a dozen professors to and from our school, and a slap on the wrist from the city government about overtime hours, and we are currently on the third schedule, with a fourth version probably going into effect this Friday.

At various points during this process I have ranged from the dream schedule, with only nine morning hours a week teaching 12a Biologia, with Mondays off and no other responsibilities, to a not-so-dreamy 18 hours a week, morning and afternoon every day, teaching 12a and 11a Biologia as well as the administrative-y roles of Director de Turma and Delegado de Disciplina. Confução, não é?

Luckily some school politics played in my favor and the only other Bio teacher demanded my 11a classes, so now I have a rather comfortable schedule that will allow me to actually get to know my students (since I have only 225ish rather than 600ish). Of course, that requires them showing up, which a full zero of them did the day classes actually started, exactly a week after classes officially started.

Three weeks in, I’ve finally managed to have a handful of classes with regular attendance of 50-60 kids. And by class I mean circus. It’s 45 minutes of madness, but surprisingly enjoyable madness. The kids seem to be generally forgiving of, and amused by, my butchering of Portuguese, and really just happy to have me here. Honestly I feel like my theatre background is going to be more useful than any knowledge of Biology I bring to the table. Every class has that performance feel to it, which is quite familiar and comfortably uncomfortable for me. This first semester is clearly going to be a shitshow, but one I think I will enjoy starring in.

In other news, I finally have the mailing address for the Peace Corps office in Nampula!

Christopher Smith, PCV
United States Peace Corps / Corpo da Paz
Rua dos Continuadores, #24-A, Bairro Central
Nampula, Mozambique
Caixa Postal 526

A few special requests – Wongstar please send me all the Oscar Best Picture nominees and any other good movies that have come out recently, Megansss I need new music from bands that no one else has heard of, and everyone else from UT just ship yourselves because I’m in desperate need of a potluck/dance party.

Also, Peanut M&Ms.

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