17 December 2009
Holiday Correspondence Match
16 December 2009
Dear 7th grade history classes,
I’m not sure you’ll get this before Christmas, but you can be sure that I was thinking of you!
Christmas in Togo is about the opposite of what Christmas is “supposed” to be = it’s dry season, super hot (easily in the 90’s all night), there are tons of mangoes falling from the trees (I eat about 4 mangoes a day!), and no one’s singing Christmas carols – except for my English classes!
Last year I taught them Jingle Bells and Silent Night. It was fun, but not what one could call “pretty” – a cacophony of notes and mumbled words until the students reached a word they were sure of – like “Jingle” or “peace.” This year I got to help them really master the songs which is particularly fun for me as singing is probably my favorite thing to do.
Did I mention that I joined the choir of the church next door to me? It’s by turns really fun and tearing-my-hair-out frustrating. It’s bad enough not knowing the melodies or the words – but I don’t even know what the words mean! Have you ever tried memorizing a series of nonsense syllables? It’s really hard. For example:
tchi tre na yesu. nuseto akpe kaka fia ye fia ye mawu kplom
Trying saying that three times fast. Then put it to music! Yikes!
Anyway, my trials with choir in Ewe make me much more sympathetic to my English classes – they get much better at the songs in their last year of collège (3eme – which is approximately 9th/10th grade) It’s not because their voices are bertter, it’s just because they now have had 4 years learning English, so they’re much more likely to understand what they’re trying to sing.
Today was my last day of classes before the holiday (congé in French) so I had a little party with my students in 4eme and 3eme. I brought the big packet of beautiful Christmas cards that last year’s 7th graders sent me (I didn’t receive them until September, how crazy is that?!?!) I handed out the cards to the students and they took turns reading them out loud to each other. I had to explain some words like “awesome”, “sooooooo”, and “Hanukkah”. Then we sang Christmas songs and took pictures (which I’ve attached to this email).
My plans for Christmas this year involve staying close to my village. My friend in the big town near me is hosting a get-together on Christmas Eve (I’ve got lots of fun stocking stuffers to exchange thanks to the package my family just sent me). Then on Christmas itself, I’ll be back in village to have a big feast with my Togolese friends among the tailors and apprentices. Speaking of, my best friend in village, V, just passed her exam to become a couturière, that’s French for tailor. I’m so excited for her, she’s worked so hard!
For our meal on Christmas, I’m planning to buy a chicken for about 3000CFA (about 5 dollars) and we’ll all share together. V’s promised to make rice with red pepper sauce – it won’t be much like what you’ll be eating at home!
Have a Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Solstice, Merry Christmas, and an awesome New Year!,