Monday, March 15, 2010

Short Vid of Lubango, capital of Huíla province

Found this on Youtube. I have seen somethings but now I am inspired to search out the rest.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Sunday walk in Lubango

click on the picture to enlarge it

My new favorite drink: Apple Fanta. It tastes like Appletiser in South Africa

Street view from outside my hotel

Lovely, lovely mountains and if you click, you can see the Christ statue on the tip on the mountain on the left.

Anybody know what this tree is called? I like it.

View of the main plaza from. Don't know where the yellow bus came from. How did they get it here?!!!

The inner sanctum of the Grande Hotel Huíla, my home until my apartment gets bars on the doors and windows.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ANELTA Conference in Lubango

I gave a presentation at the ANELTA workshop in Lubango today, the day after I arrived here. About 100 people showed up and after some questioning, I found out that some of them were teachers, some were students at the teacher training college, and others were just high school students who wanted to be teachers in the future. I was also interviewed on television by TPA(Angolan Public Television). I missed seeing it because my hotel didn't have the channel, but apparently it was good. It was in Portuguese and I spoke about what I was doing as an English Language Fellow, what the US Embassy does to improve English teaching in Angola, and in honor or International Women's Day, was asked about the role of women today. I didn't know what to say about that one and probably ended up sounding cliché, but at least I was able to put a sentence together in another language. Well, actually, I was so nervous I don't remember what I said exactly. If I ever get my hands on that tape I promise to upload but only if you watch it and never mention your reaction to me...ever.

My new school

I will be here until the end of December this year

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Heading to Lubango

There was a bit of confusion a few days before leaving about the logistics of getting me down to Lubango from Luanda. The English Language Coordinator was definitely coming, as well as the Regional Security Officer for the US Embassy. There has never been anyone from the Embassy placed in Lubango before so I will be essential in teaching the Embassy how to support someone who is so far away and keeping them aware of the activities that happen there. At first we were taking two cars, then it changed to one, then back to two. We were leaving on Monday, then Tuesday. And we were going to do the 12 hour trip in one shot, then it changed to stopping overnight in Benguela. In the end we took (my "entourage") two Landcruisers and spent the night in Lobito.

The road was really good the 99% of the way. It would put the EN1 from Maputo to Maxixe to shame. The Brazilians as well as the Chinese have been busy. Good roads, however, don't make good videos so here are 2 videos on the strip of about 40 km that was not such a good road.

Mariah Carey came along for the ride. I was having a great time but the song might have been a theme song for some in the car.

Very, very bumpy

I was really amazed at the diversity of landscapes I was able to see while driving down. From green hills full of lush plants, to dry flat dessert looking plateaus, to sweet little seaside villages. It was also telling to see the remnants of the civil war that only ended in 2002: empty bombed out houses, bridges that were destroyed, rusty tanks on the side of the road. But despite these artifacts from the recent past, close by were indications of the future and present: new modern bridges, Hummers with phat rims, all kinds of factories and construction sites, and lots of oil companies from different countries.

The Embassy is not allowed to fly any airline in country so they have to drive everywhere. What a blessing to be able to see the country by land!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Impressions of Luanda

1. So many cars on the streets. I mean, driving on the road, on the side of the road, on the sidewalk, parked in the middle, stopped in the middle. They are everywhere--and really nice cars too.

2. I haven't touched the produce, but although the food is expensive, I have found the supermarkets to have quite a variety. I found sushi rice for $5/1kg. I found a huge government chesse looking block of cheese and had to buy it. I don't know if cheese is readily available in Lubango :)

3. "Candongeiro" minibus taxi drivers are all idiots--I have never seen so many dumb moves in traffic in my life. "Chapas" in Mozambique are similar, but I will never ride in one of them here. Way too dangerous.

4. If I did stay in Luanda I would LOVE the cultural events and shows. We drove by many a culture house, theater, or gallery.

5. Um, when I went to do my big shopping at the market the woman in front of me spent $3000 on her cart full.

6. I had pizza a a really nice restaurant. It had bananas on it. Huh?

7. I give HUGE props to the Fellow that lived in Luanda last year. In the two weeks I have spent here I have had to become totally dependent on others to get things done--waiting for drivers, getting escorted around the Embassy (totally valid for them to do since I have no security clearance, but still made me feel like a child), not knowing enough about the city, or having someone to tell me, so that I could go out and feel safe to explore.

8. I saw two accidents in two weeks with multiple dead bodies on the side of the road. Never want to see that again.

9. I love having had experienced Africa before because when I went into the bank to open an account and was told I couldn't because I didn't have the right kind of visa, I just stared at the clerk until he changed his mind and opened the account for me.

10. A local news reporter was covering a story about 2 South African women and one man that were caught in Luanda's airport with condoms full of cocaine. Tough subject, but it turned Saturday Night Live when the reporter showed how they hid the full condoms in deodorant bottles. She was wearing rubber gloves, held tight to the plastic deodorant container, and popped the condom out. I can't describe how funny it looked. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

My presentations for ANELTA's Workshop

World Englishes

Using Visual Aids to motivate students to speak

ANELTA "Workshop"

Dramatic Poetry Reading by ISCED Luanda Students

ANELTA is the Association for Angolan English Teachers. It is sponsored by the US Embassy, British Embassy, and lots of other companies I don't have the names of. This year they decided to do a few workshops throughout the country. The first will be in Luanda, then they will move to Benguela, Hawambo, Lubango (my new site--I will present also), and Namibe. I am happy to see that the organization is doing things but the organization of it all has been quite a bumpy ride for what I have observed since arriving a week ago. Hats off to them for trying though.

My first impression of the ANELTA "workshop" was that on the surface it didn't look like my definition of a workshop. To me a workshop doesn't have a formal opening, it just includes a group of people who work on one topic in depth for a few days so that they know it well at the end. This "workshop" looks just like a conference: opening ceremony, different presenters, open question sessions, and the set up of the rooms is the typical blackboard in the front, projector, and desks in rows facing the presenter in the front. About 100 students, teachers, and teacher trainers attended.

I asked each organizing member if they had ever planned or attended a workshop before and everyone said no. How can you produce something that you have never experienced? It is no wonder the workshop looks like a conference. That is what the members of ANELTA have been exposed to. This whole idea reminds me of a new writer I found on the internet named Chimamanda Adichie. I am in love this woman and I have never read any of her books. She speaks so insightfully about what happens when humans are not exposed to different realities. Her talk is called "the danger of a single story. My dad sent me a video link. I have included it below.

To bring this back to my work in Southern Africa, I often see how just providing an awareness of different realities can eventually make an impact. Teaching and learning are so complex, I know I can't teach what I need to in only 10 months. Multiple stories, multiple colors, multiple points-of-view--I think these can really help change to come.

This is longer than just a soundbyte but worth the listen if you have some free time

Monday, March 1, 2010

ANELTA conference in Luanda in the press

So, ANELTA, the Angolan English Language Teaching Association, is having a conference this Wednesday through Friday and I am going to present about World Englishes as well as Using Visual Aids to motivate students to speak in the classroom. I am excited about getting to know some Angolan teachers of English. I already talked to some people involved and similar to how it went during the conference I planned in Mozambique, they are having trouble getting Angolan presenters. As of right now there are only a few but the majority are foreigners. I think there will be someone from the British Council, International House in Cape Town, and myself. In Mozambique it really took some prodding and getting people to rethink that it means to present. Conferences can be opportunities to share knowledge, get new ideas to adapt, or just show what you are doing and get some feedback. Presenting, at least to me, doesn't mean you must have a bibliography or theories to support your ideas. That is just one aspect of presenting. If Mozambique waits to have true, well supported academic presentations, they will be waiting for a long time. Angola has so many teachers of English, what it is that is preventing them from sharing with other teachers? Intellectuals can discuss in private. I want to hear how teachers in classrooms are struggling or striving.