Tuesday, July 10, 2012

English Lessons, and Venezuelan Independence Day

July 10, 2012
I’ve just returned from Inhambane, and I’ve got a good bit of catching up to do! I’m going to split today’s report into two posts, actually, so bear with me.
          As some of you may know, I was planning to sub in for an English teacher at an all girls’ orphanage during my stay here, but as it turned out, the girls were supposed to go on holiday for the month of July. I was told, however, that it was possible that there would be an opportunity to volunteer there for one day before the girls left. On Wednesday night, my friend Cinthia, who is Peruvian but grew up in Mozambique and is now in college in the states, called me to let me know that Thursday’s classes were a go.
          I met Cinthia at her house Thursday morning, and from there she, her mom, and I headed to the orphanage. When we arrived, one of the nuns who work there told us that it was a cleaning day, so they would not be having classes; however, since we were already there, they decided that the girls could spare a little time for an English lesson. Cinthia and I taught them a few verbs, quizzed them on the alphabet, and did our best to teach them to express their feelings. It was a challenge because Cinthia had only been there once before (I think), and I had only been there once, so it was difficult to gauge where the girls were in terms of their English speaking prowess. It was also very difficult to explain grammar rules, since I don’t speak Portuguese, but fortunately Cinthia was super at explaining both herself and me. I think I bored them with my endless examples of when to add an “s” to an English verb, because by the end of the class, they were getting restless. When the class ended, though, we had some nice time together to chat (even though I for the most part stayed quiet and tried to understand what was being said) and the girls became more comfortable around us. One girl asked me (in English) my nationality.
          “American,” I said.
          “Oh,” she said, and then, in Portuguese, “do you know Justin Bieber?”
          I had to disappoint her by not personally knowing Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, or Beyoncé, but all the girls still showed us plenty of affection with hugs and a tour of their vegetable garden. As always, it was lovely to enjoy the hospitality of such smart and cheerful kids.
          On the way back into the city, Cinthia invited me to come with her family to a Venezuelan Independence Day celebration at one of the hotels. The celebration was held outside, and after the Mozambican and Venezuelan National Anthems were played, two men gave speeches in Portuguese, and then everyone was left to mingle. With most of the guests speaking Spanish, the hotel’s employees speaking Portuguese, and various people speaking English, my head was spinning. But, it was an enjoyable evening during which I got to meet a lot of splendid people, including Susana and William Diaz, who are both college students studying in the UK and who knew Cinthia when they were small children.
          It’s now eleven forty-three and I am quite ready to turn in for the night. I’ll be writing a post tomorrow, though, to tell you all about my adventures in Inhambane. Until then, goodnight!

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