Wednesday morning, 12. November, and it's my first day at CEG, the secondary school where I'll be working. Fortunately Øyvin and I will have the same grade, 5th grade, so it'll be easier to prepare together. We've already prepared what to do and look forward to the first lessons, starting with English club for the teachers as er were told to days before. Evelyn , the principals secretary, meets us when we get there. I'm going to have 5th grade and Øyvin 4th grade. No, this is not the same grade. Apparently are these kind of changes completely normal, at least it doesn't seem like she's aware of the changes being done. We then ask how it'll be when i go to Mahajanga in December, when i won't be able to teach my class. Not a problem at all, she tells us, because they've found a great solution: Øyvin's going to have my class and another teacher will have his. Huh? Easy solution! ;)
We separate and are taken to our class rooms. The teaching is BEFORE the teacher's English club. I enter the class room and excited eyes are looking my way to see me, the new vazaha-teacher. «Good morning, teacher», 52 voices greeting me, everyone now standing. «Good morning, pupils» is my answer back, feeling my heart beat a bit faster that before. I walk towards my desk while Evelyn tells them to sit down again. Which I forgot to tell them. She shows me the book where I'm going to write down who's missing and what we've been doing during the classes and then leaves me alone with these 52 children, between 11 and 15 years old. I read all the names on my list, the Malagasy names, which are not very easy to pronouns, and they are all laughing. I imagine that we're having a good time! At least I am.
It's time to start teaching and I find my book and try to communicate that we're going to use the book and if they have brought them. All of them are staring back at me, with a typical «måpefjes» (a kind of lost-look), as I would say in Norwegian, and it doesn't seem like they've laid eyes on the English book before this day. Then three boys run out of the class room to get them, apparently the books are kept in the library. I open my bag to take out my Malagasy copy book to have some easy phrases in front of me. It would just have been a bit easier if the book didn't say «kokebok for Ingrid» (cooking book). Oh yes, I had brought the wrong book. My body turn colder as I realize that I only have the Malagasy words I remember, which are not so many. As many of you might know, reading, practicing and remembering vocabulary is not one of my strengths. I pray that it'll work out OK anyway.
The books have arrived in the class room and I start by asking them what the bird is doing? No response, they don't understand a single word I'm saying.
This whole situation is starting to get a bit ridiculous. I don't understand what they're saying and they don't understand what I'm saying. I try one more time. «What is this?» pointing at the bird, «Inona ity?». «Vorona!» loud and clear from everyone. At least I learn a new word, one that I've written down and should know but don't. I write on the black board «a bird – vorona» and we're starting. «The bird thinks», «The bird flies» and something as difficult as «The bird drinks water from the pot». The surprising part is actually that it's the youngest pupils who actually understand the most and are most eager to answer. My confidence is getting better when at least some of them understand. I learn some more Malagasy words, they spell them for me when I write on the board and they copy and hopefully learn some English words as well.
It's 08:53 and it's closing up to the break. They're now finished with their work and until it's 08:55 and the break starts, we've been able to communicate that the class is over and that they can go. I'm exhausted.
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