by Aileen Gray Fresh off a plane, having been awake for more than twenty-four hours, excited, exhausted – it did not register as odd when the first question my Irish cab driver asked was whether I was voting for Obama or Romney in the upcoming […]
Issue: December 2013
by Emma Way
Africa time – a generalized look at Africa as a slow-paced lifestyle, which is exemplified with consistent late arrivals and ruthless interruptions.
As a timid and short-term volunteer in Tanzania, even when I finally got to teach, other superior administration would arrogantly march into my classroom mid-lesson. The constant disruptions and lack of time-management just reinforced most students’ belief that their education is a waste of time.
One day in particular, I was mid-sentence when a senior Swahili teacher knocked on the door. Before I could even see who was there, he pranced in and announced he had an urgent message. I reluctantly agreed to let him speak, not really having a choice as a timid, short-term, volunteer teacher. As soon as I agreed, his whole attitude changed from a cheery, but tired disposition into that of an infuriated drill sergeant. He shouted at my class of generally obedient teenagers, “All of you, stand up!”
He walked around the room flaunting the stick he always carried while half of my class nervously laughed, and the other half wore faces full of genuine fear. Most of the side conversations were in Swahili, so I was unsure if they knew what was to come, but by the looks on their faces, this incident was a common occurrence.
The teacher then ordered the students to show him their badges, as if they were all enlisted in a boot camp for troubled teenagers or were inmates at a prison. Their badges had the school logo on them and apparently were necessary to learn. He walked around the room whacking the squirming male students who had not remembered their badges. All the boys in the classroom took the quick beating generally well and even laughed it off amongst themselves a little bit.
Then the teacher got to the first girl who had forgotten her badge. She was a fighter. She wriggled her way to the floor to avoid the lash, which only made him madder. The entire class was giggling except the girl’s best friend, who looked at me with eyes full of worry.
After finally getting a firm grasp on the girl, the teacher hit her back once and then slammed the stick against the back of her neck. She fell into her seat and sank her face into her shaking hands.
Five minutes of silent crying later, after the teacher had gone, I brought my stash of toilet paper from my wallet over to her as a makeshift tissue. She quietly responded, “sank you” as she wiped her tears and went back to work.
It was not easy to continue teaching after watching that unfold. I kept looking down at the girl somberly taking notes in the front row, thinking about what a good student she was and the lack of compassion the teacher had had. I understand why these schools use corporal punishment, because it is the same reason America used it when we were still a developing country. In fact, corporal punishment is still legal in 19 states. With a lack of development comes a void in research resources. Underdeveloped countries, like Tanzania, lack the understanding that there are other teaching methods outside the realm of physical discipline.
But what I don’t understand is how he, and teachers like him, can do it. I teared up watching that girl fall to the floor, staring up at the looming stick threatening to beat her. Compassion is required for effective educating and I just did not see it in the majority of teachers in my school.
Pulling from my past anthropological studies, I understand that compassion can vary from culture to culture, which is in part why I did not put up a fight against the teacher with the stick. It is their culture and I went there to learn about it, so I could not keep a closed mind about their various traditions. I just hope that one day, with development and more compassionate teachers, the education system in Tanzania and all around the world will improve so that every student has an equal opportunity to succeed.
I would like to point out, however, that current Tanzanian laws limit teachers to hitting a child no more than four times with a stick. I have personally watched a child get hit ten times.
by Kimberly Uslin
You were always the strong one.
When Lent rolled around with its funeral march of
no nothing for forty days and forty nights
and those goddamn depressing tales of Pontius Pilate
with his untouched hands, awash in
the politics of blood and our Lord Jesus Christ,
you didn’t crumble like the temple
or break like the bread –
You were strong.
So when you told me that you had a business trip
that just so happened to be in New Orleans –
just so happened to be over Mardi Gras –
I didn’t worry about your pilgrim’s fingers
entwining in some bitch’s cheap weave
or the lone feather, sodden with sweat
that you’d peel from your shoulder the morning after.
No, I was more worried that I wouldn’t be strong enough.
It was dessert this year –
My sacrifice to God meant
no pudding pie
no crème brulee
for forty days and forty nights
and without you there, I didn’t know if I could do it.
But boy, were you doing it without me.
Buttering her up with beignets,
juleps, and jambalaya in dimly lit corners,
sputtering long-forgotten conjugations
in the fabulous French Quarter,
and wooing her with your doo-wop-dee-do
lies, lips buzzing in a trumpet’s impression.
Just because you played horn in high school
it doesn’t make you Dizzy –
But maybe you made her dizzy.
Swirling compliments with pheromones
and swapping Eucharist
for a different kind of communion:
the big band’s carnival of
call and response
call and réponse –
a farewell to flesh and when I called,
you didn’t respond.
So I’ll think of her as I deny first myself, after dinner,
then you, in the holy night.
And I hope you’ll think of me
when the saints go marching in
and you’re nursing a headache.
Put down the highball, lonesome:
Drink a bottle of water, and
set your alarm.
We have Mass in the morning.
An Essay on the Consumption of Living Organisims, Including But Not Limited to Miso, Deer, and Mine Own Dignity
by Reilly Cox By the great peculiarity that is existence, life endures in numerous and varied ways, and the distinction between a mountain and a mountain goat is but a superficial one. For as stated in Atomic Theory, what makes a field mouse so, […]