This is a guide for my family and friends about my life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, Africa. I teach English as foreign language to high school students in Boa Vista, Cape Verde. Also as a disclaimer, the comments expressed here are solely of the author and do not represent the United States Peace Corps, the American Government, or any other governing body.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

So now that my school year is wrapping up its third week, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the students here. After having talked to my fellow TEFL volunteers around the island, I have learned that we have all come to experience nearly the same things in all of our classes, regardless of age or level.

Let's begin with the fighting. Now, most of you know what my education was like in the US, fairly sheltered and bubble-like. I can't pretend to know what it was like in any inner-city school in the heart of Chicago or in the Bronx or someplace like that. So, while my comparisons may be a little off center, what goes on here is still sometimes appalling. Having the consensus of my fellow volunteers doesn't give much weight to the situation either as we all have similar, well-educated backgrounds. Anyway. I teach two 8th grade classes, both with about 30 students in it. And one would be surprised in the complete and utter difference in behavior between the two classes. My 8A class is wonderful, and the children in it are often well-behaved and somewhat eager to learn. Class time with them is usually easy and I look forward to it, because they like to have fun and learn at the same time. My 8C class, however, I have come to nickname the Spawns of Satan. While for some reason they seem to pick up the material faster, they are rowdy and defiant and I spend a lot of class time getting them to quiet down (which balances out quite nicely as they get through the lesson faster). But just the other day, I had to literally break up a fight between one girl (a tough-looking girl I might add) and a boy who sits three rows in front of her. Apparently this argument had begun in the class before and I was told by some of the students that if they continued, that I was to kick them out of class. Oh my God, I thought. Kick someone out of class?!!?! Well, I thought I would be a little lenient and let them argue it out a little more. My God was that a mistake. The girl got up from her chair and launched her self at the boy all the while they are screaming at each other, and of course I can't understand a damn thing. So I go to step in between before she can get to him, almost getting smacked in the process, and I calmly (as I can) half carry her out of the classroom. She is about my height and probably twice as strong as I am, by the way. Well, once outside, she continued to yell into the window until she kicked the wall and walked away. So that put a little spice in the week.

But my experience is not unusual. Stephanie on Maio had to fill out a disciplinary form the other day because one of her students yelled an obscenity he no doubt picked up from a 50 Cent song and yelled it at an innocent girl. She's also had to deal with one student trying to stab another with a broken shard of glass. My friend Jon on São Nicolou also witnessed a group of students chasing one kid who turned around and threw a dead stiff puppy at the group who was chasing him. Ew.

So as I continue my daily life here, it usually interests me to see what will happen next. As we are now three whole weeks into the semester, my students are becoming more and more comfortable with me, as I am no longer just the newcomer. Which is a good and bad thing. Today in my 11th grade class, we were doing a vocabulary builder. My objective was for them to learn basic vocabulary around a house, verbs and objects (they are only level III). They were contributing well, and it was going along ok, until one girl thought she would be funny and yell out "to f***". "Yes, Patricia," I said, "that is a verb, but not a very nice one." I feel like they could care less about life. They have that attitude. But everyone remembers how wonderful 11th grade was, don't you? Anyway, just a small glimpse into the classroom scene.


Blogger Valerie Fazel said...

Well, Nadia, you may have been "sheltered" as you say, but you have never been one to stand for any nonsense; there's certainly no reason why you should now. Love, Mom.

16 October, 2006 03:00

Blogger Nelly Nandes said...

Nice to hear about your time in Cape Verde. I am Cape Verdean, and my older brother is actually from Sal Rei (if that's where you still are). Boa Vista probably has the best beaches in the country (if you haven't been elsewhere). I'm from Brava, if you ever get a chance to go there, I know you'll enjoy it.

16 October, 2006 17:20


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