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Elections and Exams

October 6, 2011

Yesterday I gave my exams.  It was a disaster.  Ok, not entirely, but pretty close.  Prince Johnson, Nimba county’s favorite presidential candidate, was in town and the students were going crazy.  “Our pa-paye is coming!  I was to see my pa-paye!”  Our principal forbid him to come on campus because of exams, but the students burst out of the gate and lined the road.  The VPI stood guard flogging as many as he could reach, but the gate shook perilously and it was no match for their enthusiasm.

As the campus started clearing I decided it was time to get serious.  My exam didn’t start for 30 minutes, but I walked over to my 11th graders and begged them to stay.  “Your pa-paye will be back if he wins.  My exam happens only once.”  I told them to carrying the chairs outside and within ten inutes we were set up under the trees.  The sweltering sun had disappeared, replaced by a churning gray soup.  “I beg!  I beg!” I thought looking up.  “Do not rain during my exam!”  A car passed on the road, blaring Teaching You the Thing and the kids charged toward it wooping.  “I beg you to stay!” I screamed, throwing my arms in the air.  “We will begin without you!”

Few of them listened, but by the time 2:00 struck they were miraculously seated and attentive, my 100 Liberian math babies.  The prefects helped me distribute blank sheets then Krista and I circulated with the exams.  The sky continued to darken, but I refused to look up.  It would not happen.

A man in short-shorts and a dirty t-shirt wandered in from the road and started shouting incoherently.  I marched over and pointed.  “Go!  Do not disrupt my exam!”  He looked at my blankly and grabbed himself.  The students shook their heads and quietly waved me away, “Ms. RB, he’s sick in his mind.”  I nodded and turned in time to see two drunks on a motorbike careen perilously close to my outdoor classroom.  The students hardly noticed.  TIA.

We finished barely ten minutes before the rain started splashing down and by that time I was trying to start my second exam.  Disaster.  The geography teacher was administering a very difficult exam and the students begged to keep working… so I had a “few words” with him and started 30 minutes late.  The rain was so heavy I could hardly speak and it quickly began blowing and splashing into the room.  The students were crammed in like we were one giant bush taxi, on each other’s lap, five to most benches.

I confiscated someone’s copybook within a few minutes and threw her out.  I was furious.  I marched her outside and screamed like I never have to a student.  She smiled impishly and it just fanned my anger.  “Ms. RB, I am not getting you.  I beg.”  Oh was I mad!  I lectured her right outside (I’m sure they could all hear inside) about wasting time and money, ruining her life, bringing me all the way from America to act like this… the list goes on.

The class was just horrible.  They weren’t even pretending to follow the rules.  At the end I said I’d take a point off everyone’s exam for each person I saw talking.  We got to two before it was utter chaos and I gave up.  I’ve graded about ten of their papers.  Only one person has passed.  NOT a good feeling.

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