Thursday, June 30, 2016

Just hanging around

This is one of the trees by my house. Hey, what's that in the tree? Is it a bird? Is it a snake? Hmmm...

Oh, it's Nowelo! He's climbing the avocado tree just outside my house.

There aren't any avocados on the tree this time of year. He just wanted me to take a picture of him climbing it. Then all the other kids started climbing trees in the hopes I would take pictures of them, so it was time to put the camera away.

Compost Happens

When I first moved here, there was a small trash pit in my yard. A trash pit is a hole in the ground where you throw all your trash, and then burn it periodically. Everyone has one here. So the first thing I did was to only throw food, plants and other decomposable stuff there, and make it into a compost pile.

I've had some challenges with the compost pile, like other people burning it, and then having to burn it myself because it was infested with linthumbu (red driver ants). Another problem is people trying to throw plastic and other non-organic material into it, because composting food waste is not really a thing here. But it's been going a good six months now without any major issues.

I talk to the kids about the compost a lot (or composti, as they call it here), and how it is important to feed it organic matter. I tell them, "Ali ndi njala. Akufuna kudya masamba, zipatso, maudzu ndi zomera zambiri!" (It is hungry. It wants to eat many leaves/vegetables, fruits, grasses and plants!) That always cracks them up. Then they run, laughing, all the way to the compost pile with their leaves, orange peels and sugarcane fibers to "feed" it.

Today my landlord was repairing my fence, and as he left he took a whole wheelbarrow full of the compost for his garden. He said it was very good material. I was so proud! It showed me that he saw the value in what I was doing, which means a lot. He is a dedicated farmer with a lot of farmland around us, so I'm glad he will be making good use of it. Hopefully he will start his own compost pile now too.

My Iwes

There are a lot of iwes* (kids) that live near me, mostly between the ages of 3-10. They come over everyday, sometimes several times in a day. Often when I am napping or working on a lesson plan and don't want to be disturbed. They knock and knock and knock on my gate until I answer. Then they say, "Tikufuna kuwerenga" or "Tikifuna kuphunzira English." (That's, we want to read and we want to learn English, respectively). Even if I am tired or busy, how can I refuse them?

We have a whole routine now. They come in and sit on the porch. I take out my little box of books and games and art supplies that I keep for them to play with. (Kinda like a "kid kit" from The Babysitter's Club, if you ever read those books). They take out what they want, and put it away when they are done. Sometimes I read with them or we use my flashcards to practice English. Sometimes they read while I work on my lesson plans. If I have power I might make them a cup of tea or give them some of my bread. It's a good time.

They love when I take pictures. They know I like to photograph the wildlife in my yard, so now when they see a bug they grab it and say, "Kujumbula!" which is Chichewa for take a photo. The other day they found a snakeskin near my lemongrass plant. They immediately picked it up and said "kujumbula". So I went and got my camera, and somehow we ended up doing a photoshoot.

For the record, I did not tell them how to pose. This is all their own idea. I just suggested the backgrounds. The fruits and faces are all them.. 

This girl is the happiest girl in Malawi. Her name is Aisha and I have known her since she could barely walk. Even then she always had a smile on her face. Now she knows my name and says "Hi" and "Bye" to me when she sees me. She always brings a smile to my face.

Those are my iwes. They keep me company, they drive me crazy, we laugh together, and my service would not be the same without them!

*Note: the Chichewa word for kids is "ana". "Iwes" is PCV slang for kids, since when mothers call for their kids here they always add "-iwe" to the ends of their names, like "Stesi-iwe!" Iwe translates to you, informally. So we PCVs call all the kids "iwes". It's funny to us, but maybe you have to live here to appreciate the humour.

A brief detour to Moz

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Mozambique? I went with three of my PCV friends (Shamie, Sheila and Steph—we confused everyone with our similar names) a few months ago. We were supposed to go to Tofo in the southern part of the country, which is supposed to be a really fun tourist spot, but to get there you have to pass through this district where people are randomly shooting at cars, so Peace Corps told us we couldn’t go that way, which was a good call on their part. So we stayed in the North and ended up at Pemba instead.

Beach in Pemba, Mozambique

Since this was only the second country I have visited on this continent, I couldn’t help but compare it to the first one, my host country Malawi. Here are my thoughts:

  • Size: Mozambique is huge! It completely surrounds the southern part of Malawi, and goes on all the way to the ocean. We met a PCV there and he said that when PCVs need to travel to their capital in Maputo for trainings, they actually have to fly because it takes so long to travel there. Crazy!

  • Transportation: Another reason it takes so long to travel in Mozambique is because the roads in are not so good. We’re talking massive amounts of unpaved dirt roads that are no fun to ride on, and would be almost impossible to cross in the rain. It got to the point where we cheered when we reached a paved road. We did see lots of new roads being built, so things will probably improve in 5-10 years. They have minibuses there, but I didn’t see as many big buses like we have here for longer journeys. Of course, this was just the bit we saw on our trip, so other parts of Mozambique might be different.

  • People: The people there were definitely not as friendly as in Malawi. I felt like people there were almost a little bit hostile to foreigners. Compare that to Malawi, where people go out of their way to greet and help foreigners. Don’t get me wrong, we met lots of nice people and had a good time. But I just didn’t feel as welcomed as I did in Malawi.
  • Language - Portuguese is the official language of Mozambique, as it was once a colony of Portugal. This is the language for all government business and the language that is taught in schools. But in the rural areas, many people only know the local tribal language. So it’s similar to English in Malawi. None of us had ever studied Portuguese, but by learning a few key phrases and relying on our high school and college Spanish, we were able to get by in the urban areas.

  • Currency – The currency in Mozambique is called Meticals (pronounced “metacash” which is kinda funny). The exchange rate was something like 10 Malawian Kwacha to 1 Mozambiquan Metical, which made it kind of easy to do the conversions. Since their currency isn’t as inflated as Malawi, they had a lot more bills and the ATMs gave a variety of bills, instead of just 500s and 1000s like here in Malawi.
  • Food: We were on vacation, so we didn’t really try the local fare. But we did try lots of fresh seafood. I am still kind of getting my “sea legs” when it comes to meat, so I haven’t had much seafood since I was a teenager except sushi and salmon in the States and a little chambo (a native Malawian fish) here. But Shamie took me under her culinary wing and introduced me to fresh shrimp, fresh tuna, cod, lobster and more. So good!

  • Recreation – In Malawi we have the lake, but in Mozambique they have—the Indian Ocean! It was off-season so it wasn’t very crowded where we went. We mostly had the beaches to ourselves. The water was really turquoise and pretty in the sun. We saw little sandcrabs on the beach, and lots of jellyfish in the water. But they weren’t the kind that were poisonous, according to a few of the locals. I was so excited to put my feet in the Indian Ocean! It was nice and warm.

The 4 S's, enjoying a day at the beach!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Connecting to where my food comes from...

So, i decided i need to take part in connecting to where my food comes from...if i can eat it, i should be able to do whatever's necessary to prepare it...hence the chicken head and axe. I killed a chicken while Mama-G laughed uncontrollably. I prayed beforehand and told the chicken i was sorry. The worse part was definitely the actual killing (except for Mama-G's laughter). Everything else was fun - feathering, gutting, and eating! 

They use EVERY part of the chicken, which is really great. Whatever is not eaten is given to the dog and cat to eat. Even the stomach contents were used for some kind of compost/fertilization.

Wildlife in Moldova: broască (frog)

OK, my wildlife encounters in Moldova has increased somewhat...YAY! The current score is multiple birds,  4 squirrels (but i think i saw one of them twice), 4 hedgehogs, 2 frogs, 1 fox (i was running really fast, and was definitely not a dog), 1 dead rat.

This frog was on the stairs to our beci (cellar). I picked it up and it sqirted (peed?) on me. Mama-G was shocked, disgusted, and amused, all at the same time about me picking up the frog (she didn't know about the squirting). Then we went to a late night masa and she told everyone that i picked up a frog and everyone had pretty much the same disgusted/amused reaction as Mama-G. :op

Kayaking on the Nistru!

I went on a 4 day kayaking trip with fellow PCVs (13 of us total) with the Moldovan tour group: Hai la țară. The tour guide, Alex, is from Transnistria and he started this tour guide business over a year ago and is doing really well! He's tapping into a pretty much untapped potential gold mine of tourism in Moldova. 

The trip is usually 5 days, but he condensed it into 4 days for us (some of the other PCVs couldn't commit to the full 5 days). The tour included 4 days (about 6ish hours per day) of kayaking down the Nistru River, with stops for lunch, hiking around, waterfalls, monasteries - all with very interesting history lessons from Alex (he speaks Romanian, Russian, and English...maybe more). 

Two of the three nights we stayed with host families who prepared traditional Moldovan mese (feasts) with us. The last night we stayed in a dorm-style hotel with more traditional food served.

It was a really great time and definitely something to do if ever in Moldova!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Amazing Thunderstorm!

We experienced the greatest thunderstorm of my life the other night! It lasted for a good hour. I've never seen anything like it. This picture really doesn't do it justice.

Random Moldovan Weirdness

I love Moldova, if not for the people, for the radomness of things like, this toilet seat lid...?...

Or this gelatinous/pudding thingy molded like a fish...for dessert...

Or this amazing shirt that a 10 year old(?) is wearing...i guarantee he or his parents or anyone he is in normal contact with knows what it says...i just wonder where he got it... :op

Chicken feet...It's What's for Dinner

We raise our own chickens here and we use it all! Usually Mama-G keeps the parts she thinks i might find weird to herself, but one night i noticed she was eating a chicken foot and i told her i wanted to try it, so the next night that's what i got! It was actually pretty good! Way more tender than i was expecting. I thought it would be more cartilaginous. I'd definitely eat it again! :o]

Last Bell! :oD

May 31st was the last day of school, aka "Last Bell". Similar to First Bell (1st day of school) it is a day of celebration, speeches (by staff, students, the local priest, mayor, etc.), songs, etc. 

Below is the 9th grade graduating class.

Here is the 1st grade class (youngest in the school).

After all the speeches and diplomas, the 9th graders walk around encircled by all the other classes.

Then they release their balloons into the air.

Left-to-right: me, Natalia (my main partner teacher), Iuliana (the director), a dude i don't know ;op, and the priest.

This is my FAVORITE student, Grigore. He was in my 6th grade class.

This is Marin. He was the first student to befriend me outside of class. He's a sweetie.

Me with some of the cleaning crew (who were super cool ladies).

As with most (all?) school celebrations, flowers are essential.

My speech that Mama-G helped me write.
Dear Teachers and dear students,
It has already been 2 years! I think it has gone by very quickly. Thank you for your collaboration and for allowing me to teach health education. It has been a great honor for me to work with my parteners, Mrs. Natalia and Mrs. Elena, and with all of my dear students. Thank you for your hospitality, patience, and kindness towards me. Everyone here, including Mrs. Iuliana, Mrs. Valentina, Mrs. Nina, and all the teachers and staff, and of course, every student, has become a part of my heart, with memories i will have for my whole life. I have beautiful memories from Vasilcău, and from all of Moldova. If i said something wrong or incorrectly, excuse me, but i want everyone to always have beautiful memories. I wish everyone health and success in everything! I hope to return again. Thank you beautifully!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Another good day in Malawi

Life as a PCV is full of ups and downs. It is easy to complain about how hard it is to be here, living in less than ideal conditions, thousands of miles away from my loved ones. If everyday was difficult, I don't know how long I would last here. Thankfully, there are good days here too, and they keep me motivated and feeling like what I am doing here is worthwhile.

This blog post is about one of those good days. This particular day happened last year when I was still teaching Biology (and I forgot to post it), but it's also a good representation of what it's like for me as an Education Volunteer in Malawi.

I arrived at school a little before 7:30 and started preparing for my first lesson. I had a double period of Physical Science to teach. We are learning about the three states of matter. I brought in a lot of materials to use for demonstrations, like a jar, a cup of water, a box of matches, a bottle filled with beans and a stick of incense. The incense was to demonstrate how gas molecules move freely and do not have a fixed shape or volume. When I lit the incense, the class got really excited. When I was finished with the demo, I asked if I should put it out, but they said no because they liked the smell. At the end of class, they asked if I could bring incense to our next class too!

Later in Biology class we were finishing up our unit on respiration. I went over the four adaptations of respiratory systems for their functions, and then asked the students to work in groups and tell me how each adaptation applied to the specific respiratory systems of humans, fish and insects. I have tried activities like this before, and they have not gone well, but today the students all worked quickly and efficiently to complete the activity. After class, I saw students going up to copy the diagrams and make sure they copied down the answers to the activity. That made me feel good.

I noticed that a few of the students were milling around outside about half an hour later, and I asked if there was a teacher in their class. They said no because the teacher had just given them notes to copy, and they were finished. I had a couple videos about respiration in fish, so I took the students in groups of 10 to another classroom to watch the video on my laptop. Afterwards, they thanked me for showing them the video.

I didn't have anymore classes to teach after that, but I decided to take advantage of the free time to work in the library. I am the Co-Librarian, and we just received a large shipment of books that needed to be arranged. While I was there, a few students dropped by to chat, teachers came in to borrow books for their classes, and I talked with a teacher about how she can use the new books for her subjects.

By 2:45pm I was ready to head home. I said goodbye to the teachers and then headed over to the market to buy some bread and potatoes. On the way I greeted a lot of people, as you do in Malawi. When I got to my house, the neighbor kids asked if they could draw with me. I said no because I was tired. And I was. But after I went inside, changed clothes, made a quick lunch and read the news a bit, I decided to invite the kids over. We sat on my porch, drawing with crayons, reading my Chichewa book, and listening to Yusef (one of the kids) singing.

Some of my "iwes" aka the neighbor kids that keep my home life busy and interesting

Then we went to check on the garden (Note: the photo above is more recent, so the garden looks a lot different than when I originally wrote this blog post). I let the kids pick a few cucumbers and radishes, much to their delight. You would think it was candy-- they were so excited! They helped me weed a little bit, and we put the weeds into the compost pile. Then I grabbed the leftover sugarcane I had bought yesterday to share with them. I wasn't sure how to break it, but no worries-- the 9-year old used a machete. (I spent the whole time fretting she would cut her fingers off, even though the children wield knives when they are three years old here). As we sat munching sugarcane, I was just overcome with this sense of contentment.

PC Malawi COS Conference

We had our PC Close-of-Service (COS) conference in May. COS Conference is a time for all us PCVs that have served together these past two years to sit down with PC staff and prepare for the end of our service.

The conference was held at a really fancy hotel called the Sunbird. It's a chain of hotels here in Malawi that is way out of the price range of a PCV, so it was a nice treat for us. The shower was so nice-- perfect pressure and warm right away. And sometimes they left cookies in our room! Plus the food was amazing.

The hotel was right on the lake, but PC had a full program for us everyday. So we didn't have much time to go swimming. Plus it was kinda cold. In fact I only went in the water once.

During the conference, PC gave us paperwork to fill out, we had one last security and medical briefing, and then a ton of career stuff. Our CD sat down with us to look over our resumes, and they told us about Non-competitive eligibility with the federal government and provided interview and networking tips.

They invited a panel of four local RPCVs to speak with us. Three had served in Africa and the fourth had been a PCV in Ecuador (if I recall correctly). They shared their stories about readjusting to life back in America after PC and finding a job. What I took from their stories is that PC has probably changed me more than I realized, that it's gonna be rough going back, and that it will probably take six months or more to find a job. But on the positive side, now I'm part of a new PC community for life! Also I was thinking how glad I am to be able to readjust alongside Colii.

The last day each of us was assigned one other PCV from our group to reminisce about. I got my friend Shamie so it was difficult to limit it to just a few minutes because we've had a lot of fun these past couple years! Everyone shared really sweet and funny memories about each other. Some people wrote poems and sang songs. I teared up a little at the end, just looking around at these wonderful people who I didn't even know a few years ago, but now they have shared and supported me through some of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life.

Meanwhile, throughout the conference we were expected to be collecting a daily stool samples to be sent to the PCMO at the end of the conference. That's another first for me in PC-- giving stool samples. They were checking for worms and other parasites. We'll be doing more med stuff right before we leave the country at the end of July too. But hopefully no more stool samples!

Here is a photo of all of us on the beach the last day of the conference:

Hard to believe it's all going to be over soon...

Crazy creatures in the "bathroom"

Living in the village in Malawi, I actually don't have a bathroom. I have an outdoor latrine and an outdoor bathing area. They are on different sides of the yard from each other. Both structures are made of brick with a tin roof.

Everytime I go to use the bafa (that's Chichewa for bathing area), I do a quick snake check now. That's because a few months ago when I went to go take my bucket bath, I heard a weird noise. But I hear lots of weird noises in there, so I wasn't too worried. Until I saw something kinda big moving in the corner. After retrieving my flashlight and shining it into the corner, I found the source of the noise-- a snake, weaving back and forth, with it's hood out like a cobra! I told my neighbors, and they promptly assembled a crowd of 20 and got their machetes to kill it. They're good like that. The kids had a grand old time putting it's body on a stick and scaring each other with it.

And that's not the only thing I have seen in the bafa. Over these past two years, I have seen all all of the following in the chim (latrine), bafa or both, at one time or another:

cobra-looking snake
cave cricket

army ants
flat spiders
blister beetles
giant snails
large black millipedes
probably over a dozen different species of ants
giant cockroaches

carpenter beetles
at least five different species of flies

the face of one of the little neighbor boys, through the needlessly large window in the bafa, once he realized I was in there (this only happened once, right after I moved in)

Try peeing with this thing staring at you. It's a blister beetle. Locally they call it something in Chichewa that translates as "The Urinator" because it pees on you and causes blisters to form on the skin

I am not going to miss sharing my "bathroom" with flora and fauna, that's for sure. Indoor plumbing was definitely one of humanity's more convenient inventions. But a latrine is pretty nice to have in a drought.

Transatlantic Pen Pals

Did you ever have a pen pal? I had a couple growing up, and I really enjoyed it. So when I found out about the Worldwise Schoolprogram during my Peace Corps application process, I was really excited to participate. The program matches PCVs with a teacher in America, and their students can exchange letters. This lines up perfectly with Goals 2 and 3 of Peace Corps, the sharing of American culture with our host country, and vice versa. Unfortunately, Worldwise Schools had some technical difficulties the last couple years, and the three attempts I made at signing up came to naught. Colii also tried to sign up a couple times, and never heard back from them. (Side note - they have restructured the program and made improvements, so hopefully it will work much better for PCVs and American teachers in the future. It's such a cool idea.)

Luckily, Colii and I are PCVs, so we are practiced at having to be creative and resourceful to get things done. We decided to have the students in my Library Club exchange letters with the students in her Health Club. We had all the kids write letters, and then we matched them up together.

The Moldovan Pen Pals


The Malawian Pen Pals

I even gave my students a little one-page info sheet on Moldova, with a map and a photocopy of a postcard I got in Soroca when I visited there. Colii passed on some Romanian phrases to me, and I included those on the sheet as well. The Romanian phrases have really caught on, and now I regularly hear “Buna dimineata” and “pa pa” at school from my Malawian students! Even from kids that were not even involved in the pen pal program.

Letter writing was a great way for the students to practice their English and writing skills. It also taught them about another country. Sharing the culture of your host country with the people of your PCV friend’s host country isn’t one of the three PC goals, but it sure was a lot of fun!

Farewell to the Library Monitors

We had our final Library Monitors meeting at school this week. The Library Monitors are a program I created at my school where two students in each grade level are trained in how to use the library, and then assist me each week during their class’s library time. The kids have done a great job all year, and have really taken on a proactive role in the library. They go around and help the students find books, they put away the returned books, they make sure there aren’t too many students in the library at one time, and they come to me to reschedule library periods that fall during a school holiday. Plus they translate for me a lot, which really helps me out. Library has been my favorite part of my service, and they have been a huge part of that. So our last meeting was more about celebrating them and thanking them for being so amazing!

Since it was our last meeting, I started them off with a little library quiz. I divided them into two teams, and gave them a list of questions to answer using the books in the library. Both teams finished in about 20 minutes, then we went through the answers for both—perfect scores! I was so proud of them.

Next came the the certificates. I made certificates for each of them, with the hours they worked in the library as well as their training hours listed. I gave them a little speech about the importance of their role in the library, and how much I appreciated them, and how I hoped they would continue to work hard next year after I am gone. Then I gave the certificates to my Co-Librarian Mr. Kapira, and he shook their hands and gave them out. He also thanked me for all my work in the library, which meant a lot to me.

The Library Monitors showing off their certificates
Then it was time for biscuits and Fanta! Because in Malawi, you can’t have a meeting without biscuits and Fanta. (Side note—this is different than a party in Malawi, which means chicken and rice and Fanta, plus lots of music and dancing.) While they were enjoying their refreshments, I passed around a bunch of free magazines that I had gotten from Peace Corps during my service, including the Peace Corps Times and Worldview magazine. I let each student pick one to keep. They really liked them, and asked me questions about some of the articles and pictures. One student saw an ad for Geico with the gecko logo on it, and asked me what that was. So I told them it was a gecko, similar to the house geckos we have here in Malawi. Then they taught me the word for gecko in Chichewa, which is “nalimata”.

We took some group photos of them, and I promised that I would print one to put up on the library bulletin board. This is the one I think I am going to go with:

And that was our meeting. Thanks for all your hard work, kids!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Form 4 Graduation 2016

It’s that time of year again- Form 4 Graduation! Form 4 is equivalent to 12th grade in America. These students are graduating after completing four years of secondary school. They get a certificate, similar to our diplomas, and then have about a week of review before they take their National Exams (the Malawi School Certificate Examinations-- MSCEs).

This year the graduation preparations started the day before, on Thursday. I was able to teach my double period of Form 3 Physical Science in the morning, but after 9:30am all classes were suspended. The Form 1s were sent to sweep and mop the hall where the ceremony would be held. The Form 2s were already on holiday break after the completion of their National Exams (the JCEs). The Form 3s were kind of milling about, and the Form 4s were rehearsing.

Then the food preparation began. The female teachers and a few of the female students prepared all of the food, for around 90 people.

The next day was Graduation Day, I was told that the festivities would start at 9am. But I remembered last year, so I showed up at school at 9:30am. And I was just in time for... the ongoing preparations. Food was still being cooked outside, and the staffroom was being decorated. I helped wrap the gifts for the student awards and set up the staffroom for the luncheon.

The ceremony started around 11:00am. This year’s Guest of Honour was the Chief of Robeni Village which is very close to my school. Mr. Ajussa, one of our hardworking teachers from school, was the MC. Towards the beginning of the ceremony there were speeches by the outgoing Head Boy(lamenting the lack of toilets at our school, as well as the lack of teacher housing) and the incoming Vice Head Girl. Her speech was one of encouragement for the Form 4s as they embark on their exams.

Our Head Teacher, Madam Kalunga

Outgoing Head Boy, Jimmy

Incoming Vice Head Girl, Evalet

Throughout the ceremony there were student performances, like a gospel choir song, a drama about how Camfed (a local NGO) helps girls to stay in school, poetry, and a choreographed dance to the Amarula song. My favorite had to be the song performed by the Malaria Awareness Club though. Even though the club has not been active this year, the Club President Chisomo wrote a really cool song about how malaria can be prevented, and he performed it with about 10 backup singers. I had only heard his solo version of singing the chorus, but for this version he started rapping facts about malaria in the middle of the song, like how it is spread by the female Anopheles mosquito and is caused by the Plasmodium protozoa. So cool! I tried to take a video, but my camera was not cooperating.

Then the Head Teacher and the Guest of Honour gave out the testimonials. Each student was called up individually to receive their award and pose for a photo. Then family members and friends would run to the other side of the stage to hug them and give them small gifts. The family members were so proud of their students, and it was a really heartwarming experience to watch.

Then came time to give student awards. The awards were chosen by teachers on the Graduation Committee. I had no input at all, but at the last minute I was selected to be the one to hand out the awards. There were awards for Best Overall Student in Academics, Best Behaved, Most Hardworking, Best Dressed (meaning they always adhered to our school dress code) and Most Entertaining/Charming. The students were really pleased to get their gifts, (sandals for the boys and chitenjes for the girls). One student's mother was so happy that her daughter received an award, that she came up as her daughter accepted and started dancing and tossing K20 bills at her to the beat of the music (which PCVs refer to as "chopping the kwatch").

There were speeches by the Head Teacher and Guest of Honor, but they were both in Chichewa so I only caught bits of them. Then we said a closing prayer, and the ceremony was finished. We returned to the school for the traditional luncheon, where we enjoyed the food that the female staff and students had been preparing since yesterday. They served it buffet-style. We had chicken, potatoes, cooked cabbage (my favorite Malawian side dish) and a banana. And Fanta, because it's not a party without Fanta!

Afterward the ceremony, we had lunch and then we took snaps, of course. ("Snaps" are what they call photos here). The kids go crazy when they see a camera. I love their funny poses. Lots of Form 4s were posing, but students from the other Form jumped in to join the fun too.

Me, Madam Phiri, and students from Forms 1-4 posing for our snaps

Form 4s: Elason, Justin, Vincent and (front row) Maxwell

Me with one of my favorite Form 2 students, Evance

Graduation deserves a party, so after the ceremony and food it was time for the disco! I skipped out on this last year, so I decided to check it out this year. I headed over with a group of Form 4 students, but when we got there I was the only teacher present. Kind of awkward. The girls wanted me to dance with them, but I couldn't quite shake my booty as well as them. We had fun though.

Bessie and Loveness, two of my Form 3 students at the disco

The students get their groove on, Malawi-style

Soon the other teachers showed up and quite a few more students came to dance and celebrate. I left around 4:30pm, since it was getting close to sunset. It was a fun day and I really enjoyed hanging out with the students and teachers. As I walked home, I couldn't stop smiling as I looked around at my village, my school, and greeted my neighbors. I'm definitely going to miss Malawi when I leave.