I can't believe that it was already ten months ago that I was rushing around getting ready to move halfway across the world and saying my goodbyes. It is almost May! (Amanda comes two weeks from Sunday!!!) This has been seeming really crazy to me lately, since the end of the school year is literally here. This coming week is my last week teaching for the year, and then we have two weeks of exams followed by grading and end-of-the-year meetings. While I am proud of getting through my first year teaching here and am looking forward to the summer break, I am disappointed by how not-far the English department got in the curriculum. I am even behind some of the other teachers, but I know that is because if a tough grammar point is not understood by the end of a lesson, I spend another lesson on it. Nonetheless, it is going to cause some headaches as we prepare for finals, since every student has to take the same exam, regardless of their teacher/spot in the curriculum.
I still have one of my four classes' midterms to grade, which I will do this weekend. I am still amazed at how long grading takes (and how it can make me grumpy when students don't do as well as I know they could). Many teachers poked fun at me for taking so long grading, but when I watch them grade they barely scan the paper and mark off for the slightest error. I also write in the correct answers on my students' papers so that they can learn from their mistakes when they are studying later.
Enough about school! Last weekend was great. Monica, Michelle and I made and awesome homemade minestrone soup and cornbread for dinner, and watched most of season four of Grey's Anatomy. A very cozy/homey night :) Then on Saturday Katie and John Mark came to Lobogo! They were amazed at just how different it is down here, and declared that I live in a “jungle paradise” and that my post was the favorite one they have visited! We walked around the village, went for some beers, and made an awesome salad for dinner. On Sunday we went to Possotome for a few hours of beach time (I got my first real sunburn since I have been here) and then came back to check out Lobogo's market on market day. Once again, they were blown away with everything you can find in my market and they each spent lots of money. We came home, made some fried rice, and watched Munich on Katie's laptop. The next morning we made some pancakes (second day in a row!) and they left for Cotonou. It was great having so many friends come to visit me over break! Like taking a vacation without having to travel anywhere :)
Speaking of burns, I got a really bad one by accidentally touching the exhaust pipe of a moto as I was getting on it. It is easy to do and quite frankly I am surprised that I hadn't done it before. It really hurt and left a nasty char mark, and it will definitely leave a substantial scar :(
It was fine going back to school, although one day my administration got testy with me when they asked if I believed in sorcery and I said no. They then proceeded to tell me that a sorcerer in Porto Novo had recently found a cure for AIDS and got upset when I bluntly said that that was not true. Conversations like these remind me how deep-seated beliefs such as these are in their culture. Honestly, I believe that if you believe in sorcery, then it exists for you, but if you don't, then it doesn't. I tried telling the administration this, and they just laughed at me.
This week, I got even more excited to come home this summer when I found out that David Hines Jr., a good friend of mine from the euphonium section of the marching band, was elected drum major for the 2009 season! I am so proud of him and am so happy that I will get to see his first game on September 5! I went to the tailor to check on progress on the U of M dress that I will be wearing to the game- it is great! He had made it a bit too big and is fixing it now, but I can tell it will be fabulous. He is also making me a purse and headband to go with it! The other dress that my tailor made me is adorable, but unfortunately too short to wear anywhere except maybe Cotonou. I keep telling myself that I will wear things made out of African fabric when I go home, but everyone keeps telling me that you realize when you get there that that is impossible. Too bad :( I also don't think I will ever again wear anything that shows above my knees- it is so scandalous here! There will definitely be some major culture shock when I get home.
I am in Cotonou today for our final meetings about Camp GLOW and the expatriate fund raising dinner and auction next weekend. Tonight Michelle and I are buying some beef from the butcher and making beef and broccoli (broccoli you can only find in Cotonou- I haven't had it since home!) at her place in Lokossa. If anyone at home wants to call, today or tomorrow is a good time to do it since I will be in cities- the cell phone network in my village had been down for a week now. Hopefully it will get fixed soon.