March 3rd is the day that class lists are finalized (finally) for the year. Today during one of my lessons the director of that class came in to write down everyone’s ages, so I continued writing on the board during this. Most of my students are 17, 18 and 19, but one student responded that he was 21, and I whipped around in such shock that a lot of the class laughed at me. There are a couple 21 year olds. And when a couple students responded that they are 22, I must have registered complete shock on my face, because the whole class erupted in laughter. I am 24.
I have one REDES (Girls In Development, Education and Health) participant, Marcia, who is in the 12th grade this year and absolutely wonderful. She is always enthusiastic about everything we do and really embraces the REDES mission, so at meetings and events she wants to actually discuss and learn things, rather than just chat with friends. She has also taken on the role of big sister and leader within the group, since all of the other girls are in the 9th grade. The problem is that all of my 9th graders have class in the afternoons, so we meet in the mornings, but she has classes in the morning, so she can’t make it to our meetings. So, thanks to helpful suggestions from other REDES PCVs, I asked her if she would be interested in starting her own REDES group at the primary school that she would be Facilitator of and I could help out with. She was immediately enthusiastic about this idea so I gave her the REDES Manual to look over to prepare to go present the idea to the director of the primary school. Apparently she did nothing but pore over it for three days straight (her brother is in my English Club). Yesterday we went to the primary school to present the idea to Irmã Agnes, the newest sister at the mission who is the director of the primary school. She seemed receptive to the idea but she asked if we could give her something in written form. Marcia was immediately chagrined but it took me a second to realize—right, this is Mozambique, such an overly formal culture, of course we needed to prepare something written. So Marcia came back this afternoon with a beautifully written description of what REDES is, what she hopes to do this year with her group at the school, what ages the girls should be, etc. Irmã Agnes told us she would talk to teachers and get back to us on Tuesday or so with a group of girls.
As we were leaving the primary school I wanted to tell Marcia about the idea Ann and I had for a Women’s Day (April 7th) celebration, but I could hardly get a word in because she couldn’t stop excitedly talking about things she had discovered in the REDES manual. I (and other PCVs) have always considered the REDES Manual pretty useless and un-helpful, but to Marcia, she had discovered a whole new world in this manual. She excitedly told me about a poem that speaks about being a woman, how we should prepare it for the celebration. She had a long list of other activities and discussion topics that she couldn’t wait to try out with the REDES girls. Her enthusiasm is amazing—all PCVs wish we could coax as much interest out of the Mozambican women (mostly teachers) who we recruit to facilitate our REDES groups with us. This year I will focus my energies on helping her lead this group and develop her leadership and facilitation skills because I think she will be a great group Facilitator and, more importantly, I think she will continue to have REDES groups long after I am gone.
I still haven’t received my schedule for the mornings, but I get asked on a daily basis by students and colleagues when we will begin our morning section English Club. Schedules are hard enough to deal with here, I don’t want to set a time until I know my schedule, so I don’t have to change the meeting times later. But I think students think I am trying to give them the brush-off. I just wish I could get my schedule!