This post is going to be an explanation of why I haven’t had the ability to write about anything even remotely more interesting.
Our classes have become so unbearable that I usually spend a large amount of my time imagining myself doing outrageous things to demonstrate my frustrations. Such as, imagining myself throwing gasoline on everything and burning it straight to the ground. Meghan and I started playing a game in which we walk around campus and think of things that we’d rather do that deal with [insert frustration here]. Such as, I’d rather swallow that baby chick (there’s chickens on campus) whole than … I would walk around without shoes for the next week instead of… etc. I’ll stop myself there in order to save you from the weird, twisted parts of my mind. But seriously though, I’ve had a lot of day dreams of setting fire to it all. Someone should warn SUZA to keep any flammables away from me.
Basicalllllly. I don’t even know where to start. I think I’ve explained how the schedule changes every week, everyone talks about us ‘wazungu,’ and no one actually believes we know Swahili, right? And how I was discouraged when a month in things still weren’t figured out? Things still aren’t and there’s a new issue pretty much every week. The heads in D.C. have seen that, so we had to have a meeting with the Vice Chancellor of the university to explain and discuss the problems. Since we started in October, as of 1 December, we had been to lectures for one of our classes a total of three times. THREE. Either the professor cancelled the class entirely or she rescheduled and we weren’t given any information, despite the professor herself knowing our phone numbers. After we met with the VC, he met with said teacher. We then were brought in front of the both of them to ‘defend’ ourselves because, of course, said teacher told the VC she hadn’t changed the classes, and that we just don’t come. HAAAAA.
She then informs us that, oh, by the way she would be lecturing for three hours on Saturday and we had a test on Sunday. So, you know continuing with that whole ‘not changing the schedule’ thing. It was finally enough to overwhelm me and I cried in the parking lot while a teacher from our program held me like a baby while holding Meghan’s hand. [I can laugh about it now, at least.] Then, during lecture she asked a question about how us ‘wakristo‘ (Christians) call fasting when we do it for Christmas. I didn’t answer because, first, I didn’t want to encourage the stereotype that all white people are Christians, and second, who knows a single person that fasts for Christmas? The students around us leaned and chatted with us while we told them that no one fasts for Christmas. The professor didn’t hear what we were saying and exasperated, said to the class, ‘hawafaham Kiswahili.’ (They don’t understand Swahili.) Such things were said the next day during our test as well. Cue me contemplating walking out of class and wondering where they keep the matches.
I thought all this was enough to drive me to the edge, but this week has trumped it all. We have two classes, each class is structured with 2 hours of lecture and 1 hour of seminar. Seminar is just group presentations of questions that are given by professor. Those things are supposed to start a few weeks in, but for one class, no matter how many times we asked if we were starting everyone always said ‘bado.’ (Not yet.) But! One day we get an angry call from the professor asking why we haven’t attended any of the past three seminar meetings. On top of that, it’s been nearly impossible to find out which group we belong to and who our group members are. Multiple people this week have berated me for not knowing who my group members are, even though we’ve constantly asked for assistance in finding them.
Monday. I finally track down my group members for each class. None of which really have any idea what’s going on. I spoke to one of them and he said we were presenting for our class on the following day. When I was shocked and asked why we would be presenting on Tuesday when our class was scheduled for Wednesday, he replied, ‘What? We’re presenting tomorrow?’ God, I wish you guys could have seen my face during this conversation. Finally get things straight and we decide to meet Tuesday at 3pm. Turns out all of my group members have class until 4. And then after the had class they had to pray. I waited for two hours before we started working on our presentation. We have to meet for this particular class from Wednesday until Friday so all of the groups can finish their presentations, since we didn’t start on time. Again, with the whole ‘not changing the schedule’ thing.
Meanwhile, I still haven’t been given an answer by the group for my other class. I’ve called them multiple times to no resolve. We’re apparently presenting on Monday. Also, found out today that we have a test for that class immediately after our presentation. A test in which we have to sit in front of our teacher and pronounce different phonetic sounds and explain what type of sound they are, where they are pronounced, etc etc. We asked to have tutoring in this subject, because:
But, the teacher who was originally helping us didn’t learn phonetics. We were supposed to start with another teacher that could tutor us in the subject, but last week she didn’t show up. Apparently, she was in her office waiting for us, while we were in our office waiting for her because this is where we usually meet for tutoring. She didn’t bother to call and tell us where she was or ask why we hadn’t shown up. We had requested tutoring in the first few weeks of classes and we finally met for the first time today, five days before our test. So it goes.
As much as I want to quit and am pretty pissed about how this program has turned out, I feel a lot worse for the students who have to put up with this excuse for higher education. Most of these students want to learn and succeed in the classroom. They deserve better than what SUZA is giving them.
I have to constantly check myself when I become frustrated because I know it’s just a part of how things work here. I find myself placing my frustrations on them, when not much of how I feel is a result of their actions. Yes, we have a right to be pissed about the thousands of dollars we paid for enrollment. Yes, we have a right to stand up for ourselves when our professors are mean or not helpful. I need to do a better job of having a better attitude and explaining to the other students our side of things, instead of just shutting them out. There’s been a handful of students who are supportive of us and help us out when we’ve been at our lowest.
It’s really, really hard to keep all of this in mind though when constantly being asked to teach English or if we want to be so and so’s wife or when people write us off as dumb ‘wazungu.’ Moreover, whenever I’ve tried to explain how frustrating things are, most people don’t understand why we are frustrated. I should tie a string on my finger to remind me to breathe, Uncle Billy style. Bonus points if you understand this reference.
Meanwhile, I’m gonna keep day dreamin’ until this nightmare is over.