November 10, 2013

Site Visitors and National Exams

Last Sunday we received a visitor in Messica from the most recent group of Peace Corps Mozambique trainees.  I was there myself a year ago, and it’s extremely hard to believe that I’m one of the “experienced” volunteers these days.  Our visitor’s name was Ellery, and she will be an English Teacher.  Their group will find out their site placements this coming week, so that’s super exciting for them! 

So our job was to show Ellery the life of a volunteer.  Sarah and I were super happy to be able to show off Messica, what is said to be the best Peace Corps site (from other PCVs too, not just Sarah and I). 

Sunday night, we hung out at home because it was rainy and, let’s be honest, there’s not anything crazy to do in Messica on a Sunday night.  Monday morning we woke up and Sarah headed to the school to check the schedule for National Exams.  We had requested a few weeks early not to proctor exams, and miraculously, they actually listened to us!  Sarah returned about a half hour later with the news that we would only be correcting exams (had no idea what that entailed at the time) and we had the day free!  Yay!

We took Ellery to all of the sites: the market, calamidades, Otilia’s house, the modista, the school, etc.  Everyone was super curious to who the other muzungu walking around was, so we introduced Ellery about 7 bajillion times.  On Monday night, we received some guests in Messica.  The site visitor from Chimoio, Steven, and my friend Anna who lives in Chimoio came out so that Steven could see a more rural Peace Corps site than the city of Chimoio.  We walked around Messica for a little while and made a delicious dinner of pizza, salad, garlic knots, and chocolate chip cookies. 

On Tuesday morning, we woke up and went to Manica to go on a hike.  Our plan was to hike Mount Vumba, the source of central Mozambique’s bottle water supply.  Sarah and I had been by the Vumba plant before in Manica, but we had yet to climb the mountain.  There were 6 of us (3 visiting trainees, 3 volunteers) that wanted to go, so we headed to Vumba to ask permission to climb the mountain.  After the guard led us to an office, we talked to a man told us that we needed to write a formal letter asking permission and the director of Vumba would have to sign off on it before we were allowed to climb.  I was the lucky winner elected to write the pedido, so I got to work and about 5 minutes later had something decent enough to turn in to the director.  Unfortunately, the director had left, so we were stuck either sitting there waiting for him (which could have taken hours and/or days….literally), or killing time in Manica.  After deciding on the latter and walking approximately 30 feet outside of the compound, we got a call saying the director had returned!  It was a Mozambican miracle!  So we turned right back around and headed to the office again.  He granted us permission to climb after doubtfully asking if we would be able to chegar (arrive). He sent us with a guide, which turned out to be a great help as he filled up our water bottles at the source of the Vumba water and showed us lots of cool stuff that Vumba uses for water purification.  When we got to the main source of the water, it was gorgeous but didn’t have a great view of Manica, so we chose to keep climbing for about 15 more minutes to see the city from the top of the mountain.  So worth it.  The view was absolutely beautiful and the breeze was glorious.  After a nice cold beer and some chicken for lunch, Ellery and I headed back to Messica.

Wednesday morning we were beckoned to the school bright and early to sit for quite some time with nothing to do (surprise, surprise).   Eventually we were called into the director’s office to help with the process of correcting National Exams.

Let me tell you, it was a process.  National exams are given at the end of 10th grade (to progress to 11th grade) and the end of 12th grade (to graduate).  The 10th grade exams are free response, while the 12th grade exams are multiple choice.  Since the 10th grade exams are free response and there are way more 10th graders than 12th graders, 10th grade exams are much harder and have much longer of a correction process.

The 10th grade exam grading process:

1.  Coding the exams.  The same code has to be written on the tests, and the part of the test that is detached with the students’ names.
2.  Cutting the exams.  The students’ names have to be cut off the tests because if the grader can see the students name on the test, they will be able to raise their grades, or write correct answers on the tests.
3.  Locking the exams.  All empty spaces on the answer sheet must be locked.  This means that you have to go through each test and scribble or draw lines through the empty spaces, so that it is noticeable if something has been written after the student turned in the test.
4.  Correcting the exams.  Twice.

So guess who was responsible for numbers 1-3 for all of the 10th grade tests for every discipline?  Sarah and I.  There were a few other teachers helping as well, but what a long and tedious process that could be avoided if the school system wasn’t so corrupt here.

The 12th grade grading process is much more straightforward.  The tests are basically done on scantron sheets, so each test must be graded twice.  I am also on the team for grading 12th grade tests, which we will hopefully finish up tomorrow.  The rest of the week will be spent compiling 12th graders’ grades and recording them on pautas and in the computer.

And I thought provincial exams were bad…

Luckily, I won’t be around to deal with the second round of national exams this year or national exams at all next year.  Thank God for small favors.

In other news, 3 weeks until some lucky Brandts and a Vanvolkinburg are in Mozambique.  Can’t wait to see this.  Can’t wait to hug them.  I. JUST. CAN’T. WAIT.

…And everyone else in Messica is pretty excited as well.