February 10, 2013

Dealing with Fred

As a student, you don't really put much thought into how long it takes to do things such as grade papers, plan lessons, and write tests. At least, I never did.  But let me tell you, it takes time to do all of those things.  Lots of it. Especially when you're doing them in a language that you're still learning/have only been speaking for 4 and a half months. It is quite the challenge.  I'm managing better than I thought I might, but it wears you down after some time. Frustration takes over and giving up seems like the better and only option...especially when you're working with some of the people I have as colleagues.

One of my colleagues...let's call him Fred...is a major problem.  He teaches the two other sections of 11th grade math to the kids on the letters track.  He is also the head of the math department for 11th and 12th grade. My first impression of him was when he was drunk at my Director's house.  He heard that I was teaching math and couldn't believe it.  He gave me a napkin with a limit problem written on it for me to solve. I kind of laughed and looked at him, and then realized he was serious.  He didn't think I could do it.  So trying not to start off on the wrong foot, I wrote the correct answer and gave it back to him. He kind of shrugged and didn't talk to me for the remainder of the time I was at the director's house.  That probably should have tipped me off to his attitude toward me, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  I really wish I was wrong about him.

The second encounter I had with him, he decided he still didn't know I could do math, so gave me the 10th grade national exam and picked out problems that he wanted to see if I could do. Even with them in Portuguese, I succeeded in doing all of them (I was pretty proud of myself), though I was pretty ticked off that I had to prove myself at all...and again.  Even after this second attempt to embarrass me, I still gave him the benefit of the doubt.  Then things got worse.

The first week of school, Fred showed up at my house.  He brought me an old 10th grade exam and told me that I had to pick questions off of it to make a diagnostic test for the 11th and 12th graders.  This didn't make much sense to me considering I had already made my diagnostic test and I don't even teach 12th grade.  He then told me, "listen, I have other stuff to do, you need to do this for me.  Pick them out, type them up."  Okay, this doesn't make sense for multiple reasons. First, I don't know any of the curriculum.  How am I supposed to know what 11th and 12th graders should already know?  Second, how am I supposed to type up this test in Portuguese with no program to make functions, etc. on my computer?  Seriously, makes no sense.

I told him I had absolutely no idea what questions to pick because I didn't know what the curriculum was, so he then proceeded to look through the test and pick out the questions for 11th and 12th grade.  "I'm sorry, if it takes you approximately 3 minutes to go through and pick  out the questions, why wouldn't you just do it in the first place?!  Why do I have to retype the questions that are already typed up on the test?  Circle the questions you want to use. Write them on the board.  It's not rocket science!"  I didn't say any of this.  But I should have.  And I should have known his ridiculous demands wouldn't stop there.  I ended up telling him that I couldn't type up the questions, but I could write out questions for him.  It ended up being even more annoying because he couldn't read my handwriting and had to come interrupt my class to ask me about it when he had the freaking national exam with the exact same question on it with him.  

A few times since then I've told him that I'm not doing things for him because he can do them for himself.  Then he says, "you just don't want to do any work." False, dude. That's you.

So yesterday morning we had a planning meeting at the school.  I am supposed to be giving my classes a test this week, so Fred told me we need to give the same test.  Clearly, that meant that I would be expected to write it.  And I already decided that I'm writing two different tests for both science and letters.  So that's 4 tests of 40 questions in Portuguese in a day and a half.  It's been a stressful weekend, but now the tests are written.  I need to have someone proof read them, but I can tell you right now I'm not giving my test to Fred for him to proof read or otherwise.  It took me many long hard hours to write those tests, and I'm sure it would have taken him maybe one to pull some questions together from previously made tests.  Seriously, so infuriating.  He's not going to be happy with me, but whatever.  He can be held responsible for his own actions and not making his own test. I have to draw the line somewhere.

On a brighter note, at church this morning we had anointing of the sick and communion! It was wonderful!  I was anointed and had a sip  of some special healing tea.  Maybe tomorrow my back will be good as new!  It was crazy how many people came to the celebration.  There was still no priest, but  it was okay because we still had communion and that was the part I was looking forward to the most anyway. I also bought a bible in Portuguese on Friday, so I was double-fisting it with my bible in English and Portuguese and trying desperately to understand what was going on.  And it helped!  Everyone keeps telling me I'm going to be fluent within a year, and I really hope they're right.  I really want to know what's going on.  My rosary twine is gone, and about 25-30 rosaries have new homes in Messica. Hopefully they will be well-used.  Their new owners were sure happy and I have  lots more people that want them, so I can't wait  to get my next shipment.  Also, there are a few of my students that I always see at church that I'm definitely going to be teaching how to make rosaries.  They could even make them to sell if they wanted.  :)

Lent starts this Wednesday, and I realized today that I won't be able to go to the celebration because I am teaching at the same time.  But regardless, I'm preparing myself for the Lenten season, and I've decided to give up my fan for my Lenten sacrifice (also pop and beer but those seem less impressive).  It's probably the biggest luxury I have, but I know I will be able to live without it.  There are other volunteers that live with no electricity in much hotter places in Mozambique, and also my roommate Sarah doesn't even have a fan.  So I will survive, but it will be difficult.  This might just be the most meaningful Lent I've ever had with one of the most difficult sacrifices, but I know that I'll be better because of it.

Something else that's noteworthy is that this week I will be getting a new neighbor from Moz 19!  Haleigh was living in Guija in Gaza province and due to the extreme flooding in her area, she won't be able to return to her community.  I can only imagine what she is feeling because most of her possessions were lost, and the progress she's made toward integrating in Guija is now all for naught.  But the good news (for me, at least) is that she's moving up to Manica province and living about a half hour away in Vanduzi.  I'm really excited to have another Moz 19er up here, and Haleigh and I went on site visits together to Chongoene, so I'm excited to get to spend more time with her!  Hopefully she gets here safely, and has a smooth transition to life up here in Central.

I can't think of anything else of dire importance to tell you guys, so I'll leave you with words of wisdom from one of my favorite people.

"Love cannot remain by itself -- it has no meaning.  Love has to be put into action and that action is service.  A mission of love can come only from union with God.  From that union, love for the family, love for one's neighbor, love for the poor is the natural fruit."
                                                             - Mother Teresa


  1. I am so excited that Haleigh is coming to Central! You guys are going to be able to visit all the time. :-)