Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monday October 19th 2009

Classes started this week, finally! The week was combined with academic week, whichhas made some things a little hairy.

I'm teaching everyday. To say I'll probably be busy this semester, is probably an understatement. I'm teaching four sections, four different disciplines, in three departments, at two campuses. I've also added a few additional advisees to fill the slots of my advisees that completed their papers. The good news is that my monographia advisees from last year will finally get a chance to defend their papers! I'm confident that they will do great.

I'm excited for my classes, but a bit apprehensive about my first class at the other campus. Class there starts on Monday and I've yet to be contacted with any information from them. I wouldn't even know I'm scheduled to teach the class if it hadn't been for a little luck. To me that's not a good sign.

Regardless, I've been busy working all day (even during my seista (I know!!!)) trying to get a step ahead. The planning is coming along pretty good and now I'm just trying to get everything nice and organized. Being slightly OCD is definitely a double edged sword.

October 20th, 2009 - Ramblin'...

My last weekend of half-days and little responsibility. On Friday night we decided to celebrate with a little morrei (fried eel). Amazing. I certainly wouldn't want to encounter one of those little guys in the water, but when they are good and dead, I'm game. I even love the chewy skin ( I generally have a strange aversion to the texture of certain foods). The spinas (tiny bones) are the only thing that causes some slight hesitation. Maybe this is the secret to why Cape Verdeans are on average an above average looking people. The French had it wrong. Eat foods with bones, and eventually you will learn to savor your food and slow down. If it weren't for the spinas you'd better believe I'd absolutely devour them whole. What fascinates me is that Cape Verdeans can eat these pieces of heaven without looking the least bit perplexed. Some might even say gracefully. You don't even see them getting rid of the bones until they are all stacked in a neat little pile on the plate. In the meantime I'm sitting there with bones on my shirt and in my hair. I'm pretty sure it's the equivalent of a baby trying to eat spaghetti next to an Italian Don. I mean a fork and a spoon? Really? Too complicated.

As if that wasn't enough, when I ran into a former colleague later I couldn't refrain from blurting out that I heard his voice this summer when I was flying to Boston. You know the voice in the video that tells you to fill out your customs forms? Yeah, well I know him. Funny coincidence. One more to added to list of people that have a legitimate reason to think I might be borderline insane.

Aside from that, on Sunday I went on the AM hike. Of course I initially went to the wrong gas station, but I realized my mistake. I'd like to think it's because my brain is slow to wake up before the sun, but the problem is it doesn't become much faster later on in the day. The walks are usually about 3-4 hours (of course with a snack in the middle) but this one was a bit longer. We circled Mount Verde and walked along a ribeira until we reached the water. From their I broke off with another volunteer I managed to coerce into waking up early and a co-worker. We detoured and walked to one of the more secluded beaches. Apparently it used to be the 'posh' beach and only the wealthy had access because you needed a truck to get out there. Just last year they finished building a beautiful new road so now.... hello, we roll in! So much for keeping it posh. Unfortunately I was not only not wearing a suit, but I also forgot my camera.

Monday, October 12, 2009


October 5th - BACK TO SCHOOL

This past week I was back in Mindelo. I went back to work and got a tentative schedule. It looks like I’ll be teaching three classes at our campus and a basic English class out at what was formally known as ISECMAR (the engineering campus). At our main campus, I’ll be teaching a methodology course, Basic English Part II course, and Oral Comprehension. I’m hoping to get my classes sorted out and organized during the week. As usual I’m facing the problem of my mind going in a million different directions for each class, and having to sort through it all to make a sensible plan for the semester.

I'm really excited about the teaching methodologies class because I'm going to try to incorporate two secondary activities.

Laurie, who was teaching English at the secondary school in Cochuli, Santo Antao, had started a project that I'm hoping my students will complete. While she was teaching she wrote a proposal for books for the English sections. She had ordered a class set of 12 different award winning young adult books. She had read Bridge to Terabithia with her students and had created a detailed study guide to accompany the book. In Cape Verde, books are not only really expensive, but the selection is very limited. In the high schools, instead of having course books, students have to photocopy almost all materials. When even basic course books are limited, outside reading becomes almost null. It sounds like the students were really proud of their accomplishment (reading an entire book in a third language would undoubtedly be no small feat). She had been hoping to create study guides for the remaining books so that any English teacher could use them in their classroom. I'm going to borrow a copy of each book from the library and have my third year students work on creating study guides for each one. They are studying to be teachers and I can't think of a better situation in which they get to practice their own skills but also help others. I'm hoping that they will be as excited about the project as I am. In the meantime I'm going to try to apply for additional grants to purchase a copy of each book and to print and bind copies of the set of study guides to then be distributed to each high school in CV (35 in all).

I also met with a women from Italy that had been teaching English out in Ribiera Craiquinha. Craiquinha is known as one of the "rougher" zones in Mindelo, complete with gangs that get a perverse thrill from mugging (cash or body) people. She had been teaching two English classes at the youth center. One for elementary aged children and one for teenagers. She had received my name from a common acquaintance and was hoping that I would be willing to pick up where she was leaving off. I'd love to work with younger kids again, but since I'm here for a limited time, I figured it would be better to try to get some of my students involved. I'm going to try to organize a system to have our English students teach a course there once a semester. Between the 60 Ss it can be a great way to get some of them to volunteer their time, serve as role models for the Ss. and to practice their own English and teaching skills.

I'm also currently working on applying for funds to beef up our own library at the language campus of Uni-CV. Previous volunteers recently acquired over 400 books to add to the library, but it lacks many important works and resources that could be useful. I'm also hoping to start a book club with the English students and I'm hoping to get the funding necessary to purchase sets of a selected few for that purpose.


I finally got a chance to walk out to Baia.

I went out with the other V's on SV. We ended up taking the shortcut along the road that has been washed out by the rains. It was a nice detour, not to mention I I learned what the heck an ant lion is (even saw one devouring a small dead beetle). I've never seen the island so green and since it'll start returning to it's usual dirt brown in another week or so, I'm glad I had the chance to see while I can.

October 10th - WALK


Thursday, October 8, 2009


Medical went well. I have low pressure, which I’m thinking is a good thing. I also hd some little parasites camping out in my belly. No big deal. I have to take a week of antibiotics to get rid of the little guys. I hope they enjoyed their stay while it lasted.

I also had to get my hearing checked and x-rays. I thought it was a little disconcerting that they take you into the x-ray room in small groups and you stand and wait while people get their close-ups. Eh, a little radiation never hurt anyone.

I also spent a bit of time visiting a fellow volunteer who was knocked down by a dog. Sounds pretty harmless, but this dog must have been a beast because it pretty much simultaneously took out both of her knees. The downside is that we are losing her for a month or two while she gets treated and recovers in the States, the upside is that she’s determined to get better to get back here. She also had some pretty outstanding roommies. My personal favorite was Donna Joanna who was 87 and trying to kick her way out of her bed to fazi xixi (make pee).

If you ever happen to find yourself in a hospital in CV, make sure to bring your own pillow, food, drinks, toiletries, and even toilet paper. Just in case.


Apparently it rains in S.Vicente. Really hard. Who knew? I at least didn´t. While I was away my island turned green (granted there is still more brown, than green I´ll give it to them).

I had four days in Mindelo before having to head to Praia for mid-service medical and it didn´t stop raining the entire time. The streets flooded and the city seemed to shut down. Talk about setting the mood to invite a little homesickness. This summer CV had record amounts of rain. While that´s great news for some areas and islands, it´s been equally devastating for others. Whereas my host family had a great two years of farming in Assomada on Santiago, I talked to a friend who lives in S.Nicolau and was really upset to hear that it just devastated the island. The new road there washed out, farms were ruined, mudslides covered homes. A family even passed away after their home was washed out. It just seems ironic that in areas that are so dry and where rain is generally appreciated, it sometimes wreaks absolute havoc.

I´m attaching some pictures of my island green. I was sent these by the hiking group. I´m hoping to walk out there soon to see it for myself.


After the family fun day times even, it was back to NY.

After a few days back home, I headed back into the city, back to Boston, back to Praia, and finally back to S.Vicente.

The trip home was incredible, but felt like it went by way to fast. Even though I'm really happy in Mindelo, it was still hard to leave home.

My top 10 list...

1. Having an excuse to basically force all sorts of friends together for a night out
2. The comfort of being home (even just the smell of home)
3. Reclaiming my job as the official ªlaundry b*tchª of the house
4. The large popcorn and large soda combo at the movie theater
4. Riley
5. Organizing my life.
6. Walking around the city so much in one day that your legs are sore
7. Boston
9. Rainy nights upstate
10. New pants that fit

Don't even get me started on the foods that I devoured while being home... or the fountain sodas consumed...