So we had our first staff meeting to determine the school schedule for the year this Tuesday. Meaning that we were told to be in the staffroom at 9am to hold a meeting with the express purpose of making a schedule, what actually happened was that we had a meeting starting at 10am in which lots of things were said but when it ended at 2pm no schedule was made. Typical. When I arrived at the staffroom at 9am and sat outside with a book there were still students mopping the room so I knew we were running on “Rwandan time.” Despite knowing the meetings start notoriously late in this country – and I’ve been told most of Africa – as an American and an exceptionally punctual one I still can’t bring myself to show up anything other than on time. I was especially amused when 2 of the other teachers arrived at 9:20 saw me sitting there and commented, “you have arrived early.” I felt like telling them that, no in fact they were late, but I knew this would get me nowhere.
Before the meeting started my headmaster called me into his office to inform me that I don’t actually have any teaching hours ( I will write a whole post after this to explain the complicated mess that led to that particular situation). This naturally led me to ask if I even had to come to the staff meeting because I knew it was going to be pretty miserable – this kind of humor doesn’t translate in Rwanda and my headmaster said simply, “of course.”
The meeting stretched on for 4 hours in which we covered how the new national payment system would work, the new courses being offered by the school, and some technical adjustments from the ministry. Then we covered the hours and subjects each teacher was being assigned. At which time they announced to the room that I was running the ICT, English and Modern Dance clubs to which everyone obviously broke into hysterical laughter. No one spoke a word of English in the entire meeting, no one slowed down, and no translated for me. Honestly, most of it didn’t concern me but it was still annoying.
The last hour of the meeting was spent, I kid you not, deciding exactly what the teachers would eat for lunch in the staffroom on a daily basis. This was broken down by every day of the week exactly what they would eat and thus how much they would owe per month. Because Rwandans love to hear themselves talk every person in the room had to weigh in twice on the crucial issues of how many times a week we would eat ibitoche (boiled green bananas). This part of the conversation I could actually follow but never voiced my opinion on because they were still speaking quite quickly.
When the meeting finally ended without a timetable being scheduled (I assume they are doing it right now without me actually – but no matter I have no teaching hours) the bursor finally decided to translate the whole meeting for me. When he finally got to the last part about the lunches and told me how much I would owe I politely informed him that I would not be eating teacher lunches because I have my own food and honestly (I didn’t say this) I am sick of Rwandan food. He was very upset by this because that meant the teachers would each have to pay more but I had understood the talk before enough to realize he was telling me to pay more than the other teachers would and thus I was being made to cover someone elses costs somehow. It wouldn’t have done me any good to confront him so instead I decided I simply would eat my own food. Everything here just gets so epically complicated. Finally I went back into my house and took a nap, the whole experience was truly exhausting.
**This actually occurred a few weeks ago now, but its still interesting