Sorry it has been a few days since the last post! Marking (grading) week turned out to be way more work than I had anticipated. Not only did I have 98 of my own exams to grade but as a class tutor I was also required to fill out all of the report cards for our S2A class. This involved collecting marking sheets for all of their classes (and they take about a million courses) and filling in all their grades for both the term and the final exam. They have a very specific system where you write the grades in blue pen if they pass and red if they fail and people get very testy if you try to sneak black pen into this process. Apparently black is not is not a professional color… I was under the impression that black is the professional color but my colleagues did not agree so I had to white-out certain sections of my reports and start again- I found this obsessive list of “pen rules” very annoying but luckily had only used black pen on a few pages. So once I had finished filling in all of their grades I calculated their total points and percentage and ranked them within their class and then all of the S2 classes. Lots of math was involved… and while it was simple adding and dividing there was lots of room for error when you are adding up 30 numbers for one student and running on a few hours of sleep. It was a long day but it felt really great to hand in my finished reports and I promptly returned home to take a long nap (with no alarm set- the ultimate way to nap.)
My students did well on the English exam (for the most part) since we had studied the EXACT questions that I put on the exam the week before. Even so, I had a few students who obviously didn’t study (or pay attention during my review) and while it was frustrating it also provided me with some entertainment during my 7 hours of marking papers. The last section was a fill in the blank and I didn’t provide a word bank so some of the answers were just random words they learned in biology. I had no idea that my students possessed so many unique skills!
For example here are some of their answers:
I walk with my fingers
I chew with my shoulder
I hear with my small intestine
I see with my esophagus
I study with my toes
I write with my chin
About 90% of the tests had some type of note at the bottom of the paper that ranged from a simple “thank you” to my personal favorite:
God bless you teacher and thank you for this perfect exam.
Working at the orphanage while all the kids are on vacation is a little chaotic but also lots of fun. We have been doing all sorts of fun activities like coloring with sidewalk chalk, blowing bubbles, water balloon tosses and relay races. My personal favorite is library time but I have been getting a lot of requests for assistance with puzzles lately. Usually puzzles are not really my thing, but I forgot how much fun it is finding the right piece and the satisfaction of feeling it snap right into place. I found myself racing a little boy so that I could finish before him. Losing perspective when you have a competitive personality is easy to do, even when you work at an orphanage. I finally had to remove myself from the puzzle desk (because the 4-year was faster than I was and it was frustrating) and moved on to coloring and reading books.
Crisis Identity Game
The other day one of the nuns asked me a question and the head nun answered for me (probably because she just didn’t hear my name) so they all started joking that she was Suzanna. For the rest of the day I was Mama Jean and she was Suzanna and it was a fun game. Then they asked who I would be the next day, so I selected one of the nun’s names at random, and the next day they all called me Sister Claire. I could never have anticipated how much all the nuns would enjoy this game and they get really excited when the day arrives when I go by their name. Tonight I couldn’t remember what name I am going by tomorrow so they have requested I draft a schedule so they know what name to call me each day. This is kind of a bizarre game but they really love it. Tonight one of them was complaining that the day I used her name I didn’t come to lunch so I therefore used her name for a shorter amount of time than the others. As compensation for this atrocious oversight in time management I have agreed to use her name for a second time and I guess I will not be skipping lunch that day!
Interesting Cultural Customs
For the most part I am very understanding of local customs, but for some reason this particular one really annoyed me. I was at my staff party yesterday and the teacher hosting the party has a newborn baby. I noticed that as we passed him around the room that anytime he yawned whoever was holding him would squeeze his cheeks together. I finally asked why they were doing this and while some of the people didn’t even know why they did it the others told me it was because a baby has weak facial muscles so an adult must put his mouth back into the correct position… I am sorry but that doesn’t even make sense! I spent the afternoon debating the strength of a newborn’s facial muscles and tried to explain that children in America yawn all the time and their faces do not freeze like that. They seemed skeptical and I realized I had to let this one go. I know it is important to respect the local culture but I had to at least try to explain that it wasn’t really necessary and he was strong enough to shut his own mouth. You win some you lose some- sorry Baby Remy but they will all continue to squeeze your adorable little face every time that you yawn (which is a lot since you are always sleepy!)
I think that is about all for now! I am officially on holiday now, but since April is the genocide memorial month I think it will be a pretty low key vacation.
Hope everyone back home is doing well! Miss you all lots- keep sending letters- I love hearing about what is happening in your life! In case you need a reminder write “Par Avion” on the envelope and here is the address:
US Peace Corps
BP # 5462