Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tidbits 2

I started this "tidbits" back in February and then was distracted. How can it be April and Easter already? Time is beginning to move too quickly with much still to see and do.

To celebrate Black History Month the U.S. Embassy - brand new, up on a hill, looking imposing, frightening, embarrassing depending on your relationship with it - invited an assortment of Zambians, Americans and others from countries far and wide to a Happy Hour, photography exhibit and Jazz Band entertainment. Bill and I danced... A lovely time had by all.

Death is everyday in Zambia. The road we live on goes to a cemetery. There are daily processions of cars and trucks and buses full of singing and grieving families, colleagues, neighbors... I have been to three funerals and contributed to two others - all colleagues' family members. It seems as if every morning there is at least one University of Zambia vehicle boarding lecturers and staff to attend a funeral. It is typical for women to wear their chitenje cloth wrapped around their waists to protect from dust, dirt etc. Sitting in the back of a pickup truck can be dirty as well as bruising. The women wail and ululate during the procession to the cemetery as well as during the final viewing of the body done graveside. The grave is dug by family members or hired grave diggers. Once the body is lowered into the grave, the men and boys take turns shoveling the dirt into a high mound. Flowers, generally roses, are passed out to the mourners who then stick the stem into the mound so that is appears to be a cloth of roses draped over the grave. Following the burial there is food, singing, dancing, storytelling - all that is familiar territory. Nora came home one day from the clinic telling how a mother brought her dead child to the clinic. She didn't know what else to do. And Nora has had several other children, patients at the clinic, die from complications of AIDS. The average length of life in Zambia is falling, currently around 39 years of age.

Church liturgies for Easter are very oriented toward the northern hemisphere - new life represented by chicks, bunnies, lambs, and new growing plants. Here there is a fall tang in the early morning air, the leaves are yellow and red, dropping to the ground. Hard to experience the new life in a time of dying, repose and waiting for what new to come.

I have finished with the second semester lectures and tutorials. This week is study week and then exams consume the month of May. Those who co-lecture set exam questions which are reviewed by the other lecturers in the department. After the students write the exam, the person who set the question, grades the student response to that question. Exam papers are passed from lecturer to lecturer until the marking is complete. The course co-ordinator then compiles the composite score for each student. The Head of Department then calls all lecturers together to "moderate" the grades, i.e. make sure the scores are accurate and distribution within the School guidelines. A very different and labor intensive process from what I am used to. Looking for the internal logic...

This week I meet with Zambians accepted to study for undergraduate degrees in the U.S. I am to talk with them about what to expect in the American college/university classroom, what faculty are looking for in students etc. I know the first comment I need to make is, "please speak louder". Your instructor will not be able to hear you and you will not be heard in class discussions. Everyone here is very soft-spoken, projecting a voice to speak is not required or appreciated. I find myself having to walk up and down the one aisle in the classrooms I lecture in if I have any chance at all of hearing a question a student is posing.


From Farm To Market

Greetings all,

Here are some pictures of what has been growing during this Sunny, Blue Sky, Cloudless, Rainy Season we have been having.
So far it is just the Beans that have been selling and we (Simeon and I) have almost reached 1/5 of our goal to break even. The carrots are aching to be harvested and some leafy greens aren't far behind. Doesn't that cilantro scream Avocado Please?!

We are selling to many different people, the neighborhood markets where Simeon can sell a lot at a time but for a lower price, the American School and other International schools buy smaller quantities but at a higher price and the Kachelo market and the monthly market at the Dutch Reform Church are mid sized and help to get our name out there. I am working on a "Meet Your Farmer" campaign with posters and cards we can emphasize who we are and that when you buy TTF veggies you are directly supporting the kids and caregivers at the clinic. I am all over the idea of social business and if we can make this farm start generating some profit and actually paying people to run it, well that would be a good day.

Tomorrow begins a new adventure as we move into construction of animal homes for our Goats, Ducks, Rabbits, Turkeys and Layers. I am most excited about pouring a cement Duck Pond!

Also a link to a friends Blog with some pictures of the Lubuto Library where Mom and I work.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Livingstone revisited

This past weekend (Feb. 11-13) the entire staff of the School of Education participated in a strategic planning retreat at a hotel in Livingstone.  On Friday we traveled by bus for 6 hours and then worked on the plan for 4 hours.  Saturday we worked from 8:00 until 10:30 hours.  The Dean then sent us all off to play - traveling to visit a traditional village,
Traditional village work...

and village play...

Baobab tree - UN World Heritage

climbing the baobab tree to see the smoke from Victoria Falls miles away,

then to the falls itself. Go back and look at the Victoria Falls-Mosi-oa-tuna (Smoke that thunders) - pictures from last November and then look at the February ones.  I was told by one of the guides at the falls to come again in April when there would be no rocks whatsoever in sight.  Try to imagine the sound and feel the warm rain of the "Smoke".  Walking the same walks in November we were hot and dry.  This time I was warm and very very wet.
In November we took pictures from behind the trees on the left.

Incredible thundering noise.

Seen through warm rain.

The same place we started hiking across the lip of the falls in our November trip.

Sunday was another long ride on the bus but with more frequent stops to buy beef, then guinea fowl, then fish and finally bananas.

Purchasing fish

Guinea Fowl in carrying cage

Back on campus Monday morning, I saw so many lecturers I had not known before the weekend.  It is good to put faces together with names from name plates on offices, and to greet people with their names and ask how things are at their homes (part of the greeting ritual).


Saturday, February 19, 2011


So you think to yourself, "Mary went to Zambia to teach, didn't she?  How come she doesn't write about that?" After several months of getting ready for the new term, I am finally teaching.

Arriving in October meant that I came just as the first semester exams began.  Exams run for three weeks followed by three weeks of marking, moderating grades and presenting results to outside examiners.  I participated best I could in all the department and School of Education meetings but with very limited,well, actually no responsibilities.  I spent time working on school library curriculum, the Lubuto Library Project and writing a chapter for a book on school librarians and school libraries that will be published in the spring by two international library associations, IFLA and IASL.

 The second semester which was to start 27 December was pushed back to 17 January.  The first week was all about registration.  Only then did the lecturers sort out who was teaching what portions of what courses     ( each course is shared by at least three lecturers, each taking different units), and who would facilitate tutorials.  Each class meets three times a week for one hour lectures and in small groups for an additional hour of tutorial.  Classes average from 88 - 120 students in the lectures and 20-25 in the tutorials. I am responsible for electronic resources and services units in the basic reference class and one tutorial; a tutorial with the first year students in library and society course; and the seminar in legal issues in libraries and information services for the graduate students. Its a challenge to remember where to be at what time on any given day, i.e. the reference course lectures are Tuesdays at 13:00 hours in the Math Lab, Wednesdays at 17:00 hours in the Lecture Hall I and Fridays at 13:00 hours in the Lecture Hall I. My tutorial for this course is Tuesdays at 8:00 hours in the Cataloging Lab.

The students are many, very verbal and quite welcoming.  I am slowly learning names and faces.  Many have found my office on the fifth floor of the Education building and have come to visit, inquiry about studying in the U.S., asking followup questions from lectures and tutorials.  We are getting along.  Likewise, the other lecturers are very very warm in their welcome and try by all means to include me in the department meetings, activities and concerns. I went to the wedding of one lecturer, attended the funeral of another lecturer's twin brother and welcomed a new baby of yet another of the lecturers. In many ways, life here is much the same as in the U.S. with the same range of human emotions and reactions to those feelings.

Using a variety of active learning strategies challenges the students.  The education model is a hold-over from colonial times.  Lecturers lecture and students copy in notebooks what the lecturers are reading from notes.  Partly the model and also partly the lack of textbooks and library materials. The tutorials are much more active focusing on student presentations, small group discussions, revision of lecture notes. Classes being 1 hour in length makes the note-taking manageable.

The collection in the UNZA Library appears to have had little added to it since 2000.  The library itself is in need of renovation and major repairs.  The roof leaks and in this rainy season the upper level of books are wet and mildewed and not for the first time.  The library auditorium where many classes meet including one of mine has deteriorated ceiling tiles, puddles on the floor when it rains and a very musty, moldy smell.  There have been numerous calls to fix the library and many plans including work to be done this year. But like many institutions of higher education, resources are limited and the needs for physical maintenance across the campus many.

This week's assignment in the reference sources and services class is to consult encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs and yearbooks, answering questions and recording the process. A very familiar assignment for library studies but perhaps in a more challenging environment. My biggest concern is the lack of access to electronic resources and even to the standard texts for reference courses that discuss electronic sources. I am very intrigued with a project from the University of Iowa library school called e-Granary.  Described as an "internet in a box" the software provides access to webpages, full-text articles and includes the possibility of lecturers creating syllabi with links to resources in the database all without needing an Internet connection.  That would be so helpful for students here and a good way to introduce them to using electronic sources.

So, I am teaching and enjoying the challenges it presents.  The students and I are mostly together - ti pamodzi - as they say. Oh, and I did hear yesterday, a very very colloquial way of saying "raise your hand" - in some churches the call to raise arms in praise is "stand up your hands"!