Sunday Morning ~ Blantyre
Mlendo ndi mame, sakala kucoka (kukamuka) ~ A visitor is like dew, he does not take time to leave.
~ Chewa proverb
April 22, 2018
The class I am teaching now has seventy-nine students instead of the twenty I had last term, so the lectures take on a different vibe. It’s long hours with the same group of students sitting in a huge classroom, and by long hours I mean 7:30 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon with a half hour tea break in the morning and an hour for lunch. It’s ridiculous. And it is at the other campus a half hour’s drive from home so it’s like actually going to a job. I taught the same module last year and was much more stressed about it then. I’ve got most of the lectures already prepared and now have a car so I don’t have to sit and wait for the driver to collect me which added an hour to the day on each end. Five hour lectures are just inhumane. I try to be creative. I give the students writing exercises and make them do role plays. No one does role play better than Malawians. They will cry real tears when pretending to be in pain. You’ve got to see it to believe it. My friends who are drama coaches would think they’d died and gone to heaven. Give a Malawian ten minutes and they’ll recite monologues, sing arias, create costumes, and without a shred of self-consciousness act like they went to drama school. It’s something I’m not capable of so I’m always in awe of this. And it kills a good bit of time.
Sometimes I break them into groups and have them teach the information I just gave them in the lecture. I was a bit disappointed, however, when I gave the students an assignment to demonstrate how they’d teach the menstrual cycle to women without a formal education. The first two groups presented almost the same lecture I had done, which I thought displayed flagrant laziness. I asked them if they thought someone with no education would know what it meant for the uterine lining to slough off? The final group was more creative. The spokesperson said, “Your body is like a mango tree. Each month a mango falls from the tree and starts to rot, so a farmer sends in someone to sweep the area clean to get ready for the next mango to fall and if that one rots they will clean it out again.” He gave the lesson with his arms up and out to the side with his fingers wavering like fallopian tubes. It was good entertainment.
Jordan arrived yesterday for a two week visit and I was hoping I could arrange my lectures around a reasonable schedule for the time he’d be here. I loaded up the first two weeks of the class hoping to have a few free days to spend with him during his visit. We’ve got weekend trips planned but I was hoping to finagle a few more days. I had managed to arrange both weeks with Mondays and Tuesdays free. Hooray. But two days ago I found out I would have ten students starting a clinical rotation starting tomorrow. That blows my Mondays and Tuesdays. It would be oh so nice to know the schedule ahead of time, but that’s not how they roll here. I have no idea how people function like this.
Jordan arrived yesterday and it’s good to have him back. His friend will arrive next Friday and we’ll take off for a weekend at Majete Game Park. It’ll be our last visit there, maybe forever. George will take some time off to take them to Domwe Island and I’ll join them for a three day hiking finale the following weekend. Time’s getting short.
The poinsettias are blooming and the rain is less and less frequent. The temperature is dropping and the breeze has a bit of a chill in the morning. I had to wear a sweater this morning. We can see stars at night now. It’s interesting to feel such an attachment to a place while separating yourself from it. I wonder if I’ll be back? I feel quite uncertain about what shape my future will take, but for some reason, I’m ok with that right now. Something about having my child nearby makes everything all right.
Love to all,