Thursday, May 22, 2008

professora aurelgrooves

i am definitely not cut out for this teaching thing. especially with africans.
so this training is in the universidad catolica de mozambique. a concrete breezy no windows open hallway affair on the beach. i spied a computer lab with 20 commodore 64s. we are shown to a classroom which they rent out like a conference room at a hotel. but there is no screen or dry erase board or anything, just one of those shiny chalkboards that's impossible to write on (with the chalk i find on the floor), a few windows with heavy wool curtains, some chairs that have the backs at a 90 degree angle to the seat, a spartan ceiling fan that might fall on my head, and one plug for our 22 computers, projector etc...we manage to get off to a start 2 hours late. we're doing introductions, why are you here sort of thing when custodial guys come in and starts setting up coffee, clanging pots, dropping coolers. i count 5 people on their cell phones, others are talking to each other, clamoring for the password to the wireless internet. so i make up some rules. no cell phones! it was like i had just announced the winner of the zimbabwe election. total chaos. no email! what?! crazy teacher!

my humor of punishment (punicao) and detention and cleaning the blackboard if you violate the rules is lost on them. i wish i had a ruler or something to smack their heads when i catch them sleeping. some guy from the ministry of environment comes in with his desktop computer. he's setting up his monitor, his keyboard, his whole home office when he raises his hand "may we start earlier tomorrow? like at 7? you know, so we can end at 3?" i remind the dude he appeared 15 minutes before lunch on his first day.
i managed to sweat through all my clothes all day and thankfully not have to use the bathroom, which was on par with the discoteque. this class is a nightmare. we're 3 lectures in when one guy admits he missed the part about the right click mouse button. they don't want to right click, they do whatever they can no to right click. they want to learn about satellite imagery, but they don't know the difference between a text file and a spreadsheet. "double click the file to open it." 20 hands go up. these are the same 20 people who cannot create a new folder, but can check 3 email accounts, write text messages, gmail chat and talk to their neighbor, all the while saying they are giving me their full attention.
they keep deleting stuff. one thing i do a lot is go into the recycle bin and pull the software program out. maybe they are telling me something?
then we had a long lecture about data organization. putting your data in one directory so you can find it. always save it there, end of story. so the most common question i get asked is "where did i save my file?" i don't know.
my favorite are the guys from the geography institute. they do not understand a single word of english. they raised their hand and i went over and they had the GIS program running in 54 different windows. they must have clicked 108 times on the icon. they deny everything. one guy said, i wasn't here this morning. yes you were, you asked me if i have a boyfriend. they do not know what coordinates are. they ask me what's wrong with our map? well, let's see, the coordinates of your point are 490 degrees South and 5068 degrees west. so what country is this in? that is no country, there are only 90 degrees of latitude my friends.
but this is just how it is, another world. tomorrow they want to start at 8. so everyone is all, ok, let's have breakfast at 7:30 at the hotel then! but it took us 30 minutes to drive there today....that's how it is.
but day 2 was actually way better...i tried to have a little more fun. once they started seeing cool elevation maps and hillshades, they were hooked. i had them make maps and send them in emails to their friends. we mapped data we called "rito's lady friend's house." it was almost 5 the course was over 30 minutes ago but they wouldn't leave. so where's my apple?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This would make an excellent Northern Exposure alternative sitcom, though viewers might see it through a prejudiced prism. Better wait until Obama wins.