Friday, December 01, 2006

Marks, Library cleaning, and a ridiculous farewell ceremony (email from Amy)

Hello All,

It's been a busy week. It started with me finishing my marking-- 8 kids failed English in grade 7 (out of 34) and 9 failed Science (the eight who failed English, plus one more who did really bad on the final exam-- it's hard to pass science if you don't know English) And 10 (out of 44) failed in Grade 6. I was a little depressed for a bit, but the other teachers assured me that the kids who failed really did deserve to fail and that they weren't going to pass many of the other classes either. It reassured me. I keep thinking that it's better that they do grade 6 or grade 7 again and hopefully learn more than that they go on and fail in grade 8, but at the same time, I know that I won't see quite a few of those kids again and they won't come back and learn more, they'll just drop out.

I finished my marking early so I've been doing an inventory of the books in the library. It's a lot of work and I'm not completely done, but I would say that I've done 90% of the books (Pretty impressive considering I did it in 3 days and there are almost 3000 books in the library.) I did have to clean a couple of wasp nests off the back of the non-fiction shelves and off of the copy of A Tale of Two cities. I really hope the windows in the library stop the infestations, because I'm starting to feel less like a librarian and more like an exterminator.

Also, I forgot that the shops here don't keep a large stock during break (because the village tends to empty out quite a bit.) So I've been desperate to get a Coke because before it rains it gets unbearably hot, but all of the shops in the village have been sold out since at least Friday. Finally, today, the Herero shop restocked and I am very very happy. I bought a litre of Coke and some potatoes to make french fries to celebrate the end of school. Ah, I am such a healthy PCV.

On Tuesday we had the farewell party for the headmaster. It started when we spent hours and hours cleaning the school, preparing the sun shelter, putting up the tents we borrowed from the road construction crews, and decorating. Then there was the ceremony. The schedule was pretty reasonable-- a series of 10 minute speeches interspersed with music or dance numbers. It was supposed to go from 10-12:30, a little long, but OK. Unfortunately a 10 minute speech means something entirely different here. The governor of Kunene alone went on for an hour and a half. He went into the history of Bantu education and everything. The kids were getting restless by about 1:30 (Actually, I was getting a little restless. I don't think you should expect first graders to be able to sit through three and a half hours of speeches and I was getting sick of trying to discipline them for something that I didn't really believe they should be expected to do.

After the governor's speech there was a really nice dance number from the Ombetja Yehinga Youth Group and one of my sixth graders leaned over to me and whispered "after the speech I was feeling so angry, but now I am just feeling nice." and I admitted to him that I agreed) The worst part is that no one felt that they should reduce their speeches by one word, despite the fact that we were several hours behind, and people were leaving to buy ice blocks and everyone was just having conversations over the speeches. It finally ended at 2:30 or 2:45, making it a 4 1/2 to 5 hour program. Oy!

My electricity has gone out each night for the past three nights. Every time it rains or there is a lot of wind my electricity goes out. It usually comes back sometime in the night, but it's a bit annoying, especially since my oven is electric, making it hard to make supper, and also because all of the ice in my freezer melts into a big puddle on my kitchen floor. I also had to finish up some of my marking by candle light without my usual movie on the laptop to keep me from going insane (you try marking 190 exams of kids who have only the most tentative grasp on English without something.) I suppose there are some good things about living in a semi-desert--namely that this doesn't happen for 6 months of the year during the dry season.

It's been just ridiculously hot. I realized today that it was Dec. 1st and it seems bizarre because it has to be 100-105 degrees F out and, because the rains have come, it's humid. I keep having these wonderful fantasies of getting off that plane in a few days and having wonderful, cold Minnesota weather.

OK, I'm going to cut it short there. I have a lot of stuff to do before I come home, including packing, cleaning out my fridge, and generally getting everything prepared for me to be gone for a month.

Take care of yourselves.

Lots of love
Amy (8 days until I come home.)

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