Molly in Africa

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Madam, you are full of ifs"

A few weeks ago (actually in my second and third week working at MIRACLE), MIRACLE started its yearly process of choosing its students for the following school year.  School years begin in January here, so the process needs to be complete by November-ish.  MIRACLE invites anyone between the ages of 17-27 to come for interviews on two days and the staff splits up and interviews as many candidates as possible. One of the cool things about these interviews was that when looking for their qualifications, we do look at their grades, but then equally (if not more) important is whether they are needy.  Most of our students have at least one parent who has died- many have lost both of their parents.  I learned a great deal from these interviews when I first arrived and this past week we had the chance to continue the process.
After the potential students come to MIRACLE for an interview, then we (the staff) go to visit the top candidates at their homes to verify the information they gave us.  The MIRACLE staff were split up and assigned one to two days of "Village Visitation" as it was called.  On my assigned days, I joined my co-workers in our pick-up truck and spent the day away from the office.  On my first day, I had the chance to interview about 8 students.  Each had a really interesting story and I was constantly impressed with the perseverance and determination that these students exhibited.  One of the students we met with was hoping for a spot in the carpentry course and when we commented on how far she lives from MIRACLE she said she is willing to make the hour and a half walk each day to and from school!
On my second day of village visits, we had a late start and had about twice as many students to visit.  When we arrived at the first village (which in this case was a town), we were greeted by 12 students sitting on the veranda in front of the post office.  After a few minutes of roll call and paper shuffling, we realized that we had left 4 of their interview forms at the office, so in an attempt to save time, I decided to stay back with half the students and take their information again while the rest of the staff went to visit the first half of the students' houses.  After finishing their interviews, we had another hour or so to just sit and wait until the rest of the staff came back.  It ended up being a really great chance for me to get to know them better and for them to ask me all the questions they could come up with about how to compare Malawi and the States... and any other questions they could think of.  
There were several times when things would come up about what would happen in this next year if they were accepted to MIRACLE and that started us off on a pretty funny interaction.  To all their questions, I kept replying, "IF you're accepted to MIRACLE, then I would be the teacher for two of you."  "IF you go to MIRACLE, then we could play frisbee, football or volleyball on the weekends."  "IF you go to MIRACLE, you can visit me in my office and ask me more questions."  I even learned how to say, "IF you go..." in Chitumbuka because I was saying it so much: para mwaluta...  So then I would say, "PARA mwaluta, you can keep teaching me Chitumbuka."  These candidates were making fun of me for always saying "if" and they told me, "Madam, you are full of 'ifs'!"  I explained that I didn't want to be held responsible by them if for some reason they weren't accepted because then they'd come to MIRACLE, point at me and say, "But that madam said we would be at MIRACLE."  I really enjoyed my time with those students and as it turns out, I think most (if not all) of them have been accepted so I have some visitors to look forward to starting next term!


At 11:12 PM, October 26, 2008, Blogger Luke Shepard said...

IF you write more blog posts, THEN I will find them humorous. Keep up the good work Molly!


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