This whole Peace Corps concept is brilliant. They say, “Don’t worry about food, don’t worry about shelter, don’t worry about money (in fact, you’re not allowed to make any money while here – any freelancing you do will truly be that: free), just worry about making a difference while you’re here and we’ll take care of the rest.”
Which allows us to do some crazy things.
A week before classes started, my roommate, Clancy, was told by students that Biology wouldn’t be taught until fall due to a change in the school calendar. She confronted the director and he confirmed it – she was out of a job for the next seven months.
A vital attribute of Peace Corps Volunteers is adaptability. Monday morning was the first day of classes for the secondary school in a village down the road, Guijà. Clancy went to the school that morning to talk with the director.
She explained that she had never taught before, did not have a degree in English, and her only real qualifications were that she spoke English, had attended American schools and had three months of training in teaching and Portuguese. Oh, but she didn’t need to be paid.
The director’s response was to praise God that their prayers had been answered and now one person wouldn’t have to teach both 11th and 12th grade.
The next morning, Clancy taught her first English class to 11th graders at Escola Secundària de Guijà.
No questions. No resume. No interview. No contract. No problem.
Down the road in Howkè, my friend Anna is up in front of students without a break from noon to nine at night some days, because there are only two English teachers for four grades.
Two days ago, I was reading in the park and got to chatting with a girl in town to take a test at the local instituto superior. She told me she had just taken a test in Maputo to enter a journalism school there. She told me how crucial it was to speak English to get the job. Then she told me, in broken English about Susie, her Peace Corps English teacher in the 10th grade.
I´m typing this on a brand-new computer, complete with Office 2007 and Windows Vista. Prior to this, two of my colleagues were practically fighting over me because they both had written pages to type up, and neither knew how to use Word...or what Word actually is. They were absolutely flabbergasted that I was looking at the page and typing instead of looking at the keyboard. Suffice it to say, Clancy and I are currently working out a computer class for the professors.
Moçambique is hot. It’s inconvenient. It’s hard at times. But, dang, I have never felt so useful.