January 14, 2013

Ceremonia de Abertura

So this is how today went:

Woke up at 6:45 and got ready for the day.

Left my house at 8 o'clock to walk to the Ceremonia de Abertura (opening ceremony) of the primary and secondary schools in Messica, which was at a church that is approximately a 3 minute walk from my house.  The ceremony was set to start at 7:30 am, but we were told it would probably end up starting around 8. Upon arriving, there were approximately 4 other people at the church with us, none of which was our school director who obviously had a large role in said opening ceremony. So we waited.  And met a few people.  And stood there awkwardly while everyone was conversing in Portuguese.  And talked a little bit about the school system in the U.S.  And continued to wait around awkwardly.  And then met a guy named Innocent that was from Zimbabwe and spoke excellent English.  And then waited around some more.  And then around 10 o'clock, the ceremony actually started.

The ceremony itself was not what you might expect of an opening ceremony. It started with the planting of some trees symbolizing the new school year.  Sarah and I were told by our new friend Innocent that they normally don't water the trees, so they will probably die in a couple of weeks.  Awesome symbol of the new year there.  After the planting of the trees, we went inside the church where the ceremony was taking place and sang the national anthem of Mozambique.  Then the teachers were introduced.  So, of course Sarah and I had a special introduction and had to get in front of everyone and introduce ourselves.  You can probably guess how much I enjoyed that.  I must say, I've memorized my introduction,  so it's not so bad anymore. :)

Anyway, after introductions, there was a LOT of talking.  It started with the presidents of the schools reading off some important school rules.  Then it moved to the directors reading off some more information.  I missed most of this because there were no microphones, there was a lot of background noise, and they were speaking in Portuguese.  I'm actually surprised that I got any of it.  After the director's speech, it was time for community members to stand up and voice their concerns about the school and how it's run.  Afterwards, the directors got back up and tried to defend their actions/clarify certain things.  And so this continued, until everyone felt satisfied and/or too hungry and uncomfortable to care anymore.   I must say that people got super passionate, and I was a little afraid of a riot breaking out there for awhile.  Then there were closing remarks, and at about 1:30, the ceremony ended.

The director then told Sarah and I that we were going to have some refrescos (drinks).  So we got into our pedagogical director's car, and he took us to this incredible site in Messica that I didn't know existed.  Apparently Messica has many hidden treasures that I don't know about.  Anyway, this place was a gorgeous fenced in property with a bar/restaurant and cafe that are opening soon.  Apparently it's still being built and they are adding many more buildings to the property.  There is also a huge library that is privately owned on the property.  So we met the owner, and obviously we're going to become best friends.  He said when the restaurant opens he would like to serve some American food there, so he would like Sarah and my suggestions.  Discovering this place was definitely today's greatest success.

When everyone else arrived, we sat down at tables and were served cheese or ham sandwiches and pop/beer.  So clearly, the first question on everyone's mind was 'do these white girls drink?'  And I made the mistake of saying that I drink sometimes.  My colleague at my table told me that he doesn't drink. And then he continued to try to shove beer down my throat for the next hour until I finally agreed to have one.  The problem was that I hadn't eaten since 7:30 in the morning (a hard boiled egg) besides the small cheese sandwich.  So that's how I got tipsy after the opening ceremony with lots of my male colleagues... (Sidenote: Sarah and I were the only females at this 'reception'...)

While I was drinking my beer, Sarah and I were conversing with this colleague of ours.  He asked us which one of us was older, and I told him Sarah was older.  He proceeded to insist that we were lying.  I asked him why we would lie, and then he asked me how old I was.  I asked him how old he was, and he informed me that he was 30.  I told him that I was 21, and that's when he told me that all women lie about their ages.  I insisted that I wasn't lying, but he would not take that as an answer.  I asked him how old he thought I was, and he said, "hmmm....probably about 31."  Duuuudeeee.  Not cool.  No way do I look 31. I was brainstorming ideas on how to prove my age to him, and then I remembered that I had my passport in my purse.  I showed him my date of birth on my passport, and he was still insisting that I was lying although at that point he kind of had to admit defeat because my passport clearly doesn't lie.  It was an extremely frustrating and weird conversation.

And then things got weirder.  He was wearing a ring on his finger, so I asked him if he was married.  Evidently, that was a mistake.  He told me that he was not married.  And then he asked me if I was married. When I told him that I wasn't, he proceeded to give me the third degree about getting married in Mozambique, dating Mozambicans, etc.  And proceeded to tell me that he is going to come back to the U.S. with me.  So that was awkward.

Let me just say that I've been told by at least 10 Mozambicans that when I go back to the U.S., I just have to take them with me.  What is assumed by this is that we will get married.  So that's always an extremely awkward situation because how do you nicely say, "no way in hell is that happening..."?

Yeah, so that was my day.  School starts tomorrow.  I am teaching one 45 minute class, and I think I have a pretty decent plan, but I'm still pretty nervous.  I'm just going to go in there and try to be confident and pray that they understand what I'm saying.  But any and all prayers are appreciated.  :)  Let's see how this goes...


  1. Wow, your opening ceremony was very different from mine, apart from the tree-planting. But annoying men are the same everywhere...

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