First Day of School
had to wake up early, no time for a nice, slow morning, sadly. Ah well. I've had plenty, and there's plenty more to come. Walked very briskly to school, took about 40 minutes. Even though it was a cool morning, my back was completely soaked on arrival. I was a bit late, but no worries, they were just having assembly. Which went on for another half hour after getting there. And then…nothing. keep in mind, I hadn't heard from my principal at all since he dropped me off at site, mid December - I didn't know the schedule, my classes, or anything of the sort. It turns out, I didn't know those things because no one knew those things. They started making the schedule after assembly. We were instructed to finish scheming - basically just copy the syllabus unto a vague sequential format. I finished that in a few hours, taking very liberal reading breaks. Then…more nothing. So I asked to go home, and was granted permission. Got home around 1, made a bit of food, then headed to the gym. I have a fear that much of the first few weeks, at least, are going to be like this. Oh, one thing they did manage to figure out, was what classes I'm teaching : Form A and B. Yup, two whole classes. About 10 hours of teaching a week.1) They'll probably add another section of B, bringing me up to about 14 hours. Yikes. Heavy workload here.
On the third day of sitting there and constantly asking if the schedule was done, it turned out I was supposed to be teaching on the old schedule. And no one told me. Yay organization!
I've been reading for ages that a glass of red wine a day is healthy. I like wine well enough, so why not? My first bottle wasn't really wine, it was this terrible thing called 'Shiraz'2) It was bearable, but barely. So my next bottle I decided to upgrade to something with a cork - big mistake. I didn't even think about finding a corkscrew. Who does? Buuuut…..I went to one store, and then another, and then another, and another. I must've gone to every store in town looking for a stupid !@$#*@! corkscrew. Part of the problem might have been that I didn't know how to say 'corkscrew' in Sesotho. I even went the bar to see if they by some miracle had it. They thought I wanted coke to mix with something. I tried different methods : hitting the bottle against a wall, wire, a knife. Nothing. I thought I would have to go to Maseru.
I walked into the VRC (my little office in the hotel), and there was a corkscrew staring me in the face, sitting on one of the shelves.
So…yeah…I'm not great at seeing things that are right in front of my face.3)
Life has been easy, as usual. I leave for school at about 7:10, listen to a few podcasts while I walk the 35 minutes4) down a little valley and up a hill5), It's about a mile and a half. Absurdly sunny though, I have to wear sunscreen. I cAN'T WAIT for winter. We just had a heat wave of 90 degrees for a week, when it's supposed to be cooling down for fall.6) And the teacher's room has tin roof, so it's essentially an oven in there. Quite unpleasant. Ummm…
They had to split Form B into two classes, so now I'm up to 21 periods a week, which is perfect, especially since most of them are concentrated into the middle of the day. Except for two days, I leave early, which gives me time to head to the hotel and get some internet and electricity. Classes themselves are great. The kids have no discipline problems, and participate fairly well. Plus they teach me a bit of Sesotho if we finish class a few minutes early. Their math skills are not so great though. They scored about a 20% average on a really easy quiz. The biggest problem I think is the language barrier. Some concepts are hard to explain, much less understand when you don't have a great grasp of the language.
Administration here is seemingly nonexistent. They must do some things, school does happen, but compared to how micromanaged things are in the states, this is a paradise. You're free to go if classes are done, and even if they're not, the flimsiest excuse will do. Few grades are taken (only 2 tests a year officially), no lesson plans are checked. A whole different story from the states, where I submitted lesson plans every week, and every one was 6 freaking pages long.
On the weekends I have the nice, slow mornings I so enjoy, with my freshly-ground Aeropress coffee7), and exercise, and french toast, and tomatoes with eggs. Amazing.
I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, so skip if I have. BTW, they eat nearly everything (except soupy things) with their fingers.
- Papa : finely ground cornflour. They boil it until it's a hard, lumpy mass, serve it with moroho.
- Moroho : Swiss chard. They cook it in absurd amounts of oil and salt until there's nothing left - certainly nothing of nutritional value.
- Samp : acorn-sized balls of de-husked corn.
- Mokopu : squash. I see them buy and sell it, I've never seen them eat it.
- Bohobe : sugary bread.
- Soy mince : an incredibly, absurdly, processed item, at one point distantly derived from soy beans.
Basically, they eat all carbs. It's a terrible national diet. They have all these cows, and no dairy industry. “Look, I have ten cows!” “Great, what do you do with them?” “Feed them!” Sooo yeah… They have goats and sheep, same story. They barely even eat the stupid things, just on special occasions. They eat chicken and eggs every now and again, but far too rarely.