Friday, April 22, 2011


Today for Good Friday we walked the Stations of the Cross before going inside the church. Three of the littlest girls had fallen asleep before we even got inside, Margarita actually falling asleep while she was walking, so I eventually just picked her up and carried her. Once inside, one girl actually fell off the bench at one point, reducing everyone to giggles.
I forgot to write about this before, but it happened a few weeks ago. Local languages are strictly prohibited from being spoken in the schools here in Mozambique. Last year, teaching math, I could hear right away when someone spoke in Txopi and they were immediately kicked out of class. It was easy when teaching math because the only language anyone should be speaking in the classroom was Portuguese, thus I could tell immediately when anything but Portuguese was spoken. But this year, teaching English, I honestly can’t tell sometimes if my students are speaking Portuguese, English, Txopi, or Pig Latin. One day I was writing a story on the board and the students were copying and chatting mildly as they did, which I didn’t mind. I thought I heard Txopi a few times, but I wasn’t positive so I didn’t say anything. At one point I was certain that I had heard Txopi so I turned around the sternly reminded them that, while the maternal languages are an important part of their heritage as Mozambicans, within the schools they are strictly prohibited. I reminded my students that, in order for Mozambique to develop as a country and stand a chance at competing with the rest of the world, they must speak Portuguese, their only unifying language, and they must speak it well. Then, I told them that the next person who spoke Txopi would be kicked out. About 40 seconds later I clearly heard Txopi so whipped around and asked the class who it was. When nobody offered a name I turned to the class leader and said, “chief, who said that?” He said he didn’t know so I said, “fine, get out.” When he protested I explained to the whole class that, unless somebody told me who had spoken, he would get kicked out of the lesson and afterwards I would move to the vice-class leader, next the leader of hygiene for the class, and so on. One boy raised his hand (actually one of my best English speakers and students). I asked him if he knew who had spoken, he said, “yes teacher, it was me.” I told him to leave and he did quickly and quietly, without making a scene or complaining. I was annoyed because he had been specifically warned, but I was impressed by his maturity in taking responsibility for his actions.

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