Aparna in Mozambique

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lazy Beira Friday

I'm sitting in my room, going through our information from the market plants study and wondering if I should be making coffee to get me through the rest of this afternoon....I should.....and also I'm imagining what I was doing last Friday at this time. So, last Friday at this time I was in Maputo. I was in Maputo eating a toasted cheese sandwich and a coke with two colleagues from the WHO. It was sort of a surreal conversation, talking of renewed contracts and new ones, East Asia and West Africa. And me, in between the whole time, talking of going back home to the burbs (practical) so that I could see the many people that I call my family and polish off a few required things before heading back to school (hopefully) next spring. I digress...Yes, I was in Maputo! I was there for 3 weeks in fact. The first one, well obviously Sarah was there....and here are some more pictures from that one. Very similar to my other Tofo pictures (April) but different people and different experiences and still, worth putting up on the blog..

Some more from Maputo

The second week I tried to meet everyone that I had never met. People from the red cross, private consultants who had designed our studies, people from the state univerisity, the University of Eduardo Mondlane, and the WHO people to finish up my ongoing project (no longer!!). And for most of the week, I did work on my projects from up here, sampled the cuisine of Maputo, read a lot of the news, took a lot of walks, and spent every day running this way and that just to meet the right people at the right time. It was great, because it prepared me well for the second week! The second week I spent at a conference of the African Health and and Information Library Association (AHILA). It was interesting. Although we talked more about Hinari and the Virtual Health Library than I ever thought I would like to in my life, it was still worth it. To give you picture of how things went, on the first day, someone asked me...."Are you a Liberian?" I responded, no, I'm not. A Liberian?? That's what I thought they had said. Turns out, no, they had asked me if I was a librarian! Obviously. I think I was one of the 4 non-librarians there!! The conference was interesting, done in 3 languages. Since I had a mozambique tag and translated a few times, at one point, someone also mentioned that I spoke english perfectly. Well, I said, I suppose that for an american that can be quite a complement!! Yes, so it was international certainly, but more geared towards librarians on the African continent. Good info for the college an definitely something I'd never thought that I would do....um, ever.

Sometime in the last week, I ended up finally getting in touch with the Department of Community Health at the UEM. I had asked to sit in on a lecture to compare teaching styles. They said yes. Except that I misunderstood. They thought that I wanted to give a lecture. I received a message stating, Ms. Kumar, you will be giving a lecture on medical statistics at 8am on Friday. I immediately called them back, them obviously not understanding that I was NOT a statistician!! They did, but were sorta hoping anyways!! In the end, we came to a compromise. I would give a lecture on the use of qualitative research in the health sectore....I prepared and prepared myself for a 40 some odd person lecture of 2nd year students.

Wow, was I wrong. I met first with the professor from the department. Being a UK MD/PHD, of course, he wanted to know my qualifications. Of course, I started sputtering and sweating profusely. And kicking myself for not wearing my hair in a bun and for not ironing my shirt a little bit better. He seemed satisfied and moved on to look at my powerpoint. He nodded, no comments, said it would be fine, some of them were a little bit slow. Can you imagine? Basically, he was telling me that I was slow in some sort of way, but that it would have to do for this late afternoon Friday lecture.

So, we go to the lecture. There turn out to be no, not 40. But 110 second year medical students. GASP. I sit in on the last end of their lecture. The MD/PHD hands me a stick!!! What, in the world, I thought, could this be for??? It turns out, it was for pointing. Phew, I was imagining my grandfather, the headmaster, and what use he might have put such a stick to use for back in the colonial days. Good thing it wasn't for that.

Anyways, I started talking and didn't stop. There were questions, discussions, and even the big guy seemed somewhat excited. Another elderly timer in the back also gave a long comment; comments I always take are good signs. Especially in Mozambique, where often times a debate, ends up more as a series of comments, neither directed here nor there.

At the end of the lecture the students clapped and thanked me. I think overall it went very well, especially because big guy 1 and 2 asked me in the end, how they could get a fulbright scholar to work at their university. I did of course explain, that they should really get a senior scholar of course, and they agreed! HA, guess I wasn't that good! After that lecture, I stuffed my face with matapa at a friends house made in the Nampula style with soft boiled cashews and coconut....it was so delicious that I ate way too much and had to spend the night at her house...Anyways.......

I am rambling, that was my last Friday.....and now, well, I should get back to the present in Beira and the info I have to get through before I can show my face at the college....this Sunday I leave to go to Nampula and Pemba for the second phase of our baseline study.....will fill on that before I head out and will send some Beira pics on Sundayish......TGIF!!!


Anonymous Victoria said...

Hey Aparna, thanks for keeping up the writing. I check back to your blog time and time again, and love poring through photos.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

Enjoyed catching up on your blog. Great work on the lecture, I would have been terrified and probably would have forgotten how to speak! Maybe you can skip going back to school and just jump to being a professor ;) Hope things are going well, shoot me an email when you have some time, would love to hear about your potential school plans.

11:15 AM  

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