Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I never thought I'd ever hear myself say this, but these past two months of teaching at Fikiria Kwanza Academy have changed things. My eyes have been opened to the truth: Girlz do rule.

You must not know 'bout us, you must not know 'bout us...

At least in Standard 6 they do, my English class being the extent of the sample size. Maybe the wasichana just have an unfair advantage in demographics. More people means more chances to shine. They outnumber my masela 17 to 11 in the class of 28, and out of those 17, I'd say I could have a seamless, three-minute conversation in English with six of them, about a 35 percent clip.
That's about twice the rate of fluency I've found among the guys -- Felix and Baraka alone account for their figure of just over 18 percent.

I hate to say it, but ... I really think the STD 6 girls at Fikiria Kwanza are just smarter.

Sure, there are two dudes who keep it respectable, but as a whole, they've got no answer for Anneth's grammatical precision, Mary John's ability to think outside the box, Itika's conversational acumen, her older sister Heri's quiet command of the language, Maria Peter's anal attention to detail, or Irene's deftness with NSL (Nagging as a Second Language). It's an unending cycle with the dudes: me telling David and Bernard to pay attention, them not doing it, me walking back there to monitor them for about ten minutes, eventually leaving to make trips to Erick and Godson's desks to essentially reexplain the day's lesson in "Kiswahiliingereza" (Kiswahili plus Kiingereza, the East African version of "Spanglish"), and then grading a bunch of mistake-riddled homework assignments by the very kids who, gasp, hadn't been paying attention in class.

Regardless of all the times I've gotten on them, all the dudes are down with Ticha BP (that's me). But none are spilling any leaks on who "likes" who, like some of the girls did the other day when we were chilling after class. Let me tell you, it was awesome. I really felt like an old man, sitting on the receiving end of the gossip chain, observing a bunch of young teenagers giggling and pointing fingers. It started with Itika calling out someone, I can't remember who, for liking Rubben. That shot was volleyed right back: "Itika likes Baraka!" It was a chain reaction of "Nah aww"/"Yah huh" in Swahili for the next 60 seconds after that. Then I learned about the other match ups: Heri-Bernard, Anneth-Felix, and some other juicy rumors. When everyone had thrown her share of mud, I leaned back, resting my head against the wall and laughed out loud, very aware of the main squeeze situation in Fikiria Kwanza Standard 6.

By the way, 90 percent of that group conversation about love in the land of Tanganyika took place in English, and it was seamless. What else could I expect from my girls?

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