The English center, at which Doug teaches, is hosting an English camp for 50 children ages 8-13 in a couple of weeks.
It is the job of the teachers to sign up the children, test them and collect their money. Since it's mostly mothers at home with their children, Jennifer* and I have been going to houses of neighbors we want to connect with to inquire whether they would like their children tested so they can attend.
We first asked Jasmine* about testing her 9 year old daughter "Z." She told us we could come on a Tuesday at 4, so we did.
We visited for a while, and then I watched Jennifer* give the oral test. It was a very simple way to see whether she knew her colors, could recognize letters, say the ABC's, could answer easy questions in English, like "What is your name?" "How old are you?" etc.
"Z" tested at level Zero, but that is normal for the kids in my neighborhood. They start having English classes in Kindergarten, but having teachers who don't know English very well, it makes it hard for them to progress very far.
"Z" could say most of her colors and sing her ABC's, but when we asked what a shirt, a door, an eye, etc. were, she couldn't say the word in English.
I know from the day she came over and watched me make salsa, that she does know "banana," "orange," and "apple," because those are the things she could identify on my counter, but she can't say much else.
We were offered drinks, but we declined out of respect for them. Jasmine* then informed us that none of the girls in the house were fasting at that time. One is pregnant, and the others are dealing with female things, and the laws for fasting don't allow them to take part in fasting during that time.
They started drinking juice, so we had a little as well.
Then Jasmine* made a call for us to another mother (her cousin) who said we could come in two days to test her daughter. Then after 1 1/2 hours had passed, we left and walked over to the house next to mine.
The brother and sister of my landlord (and part-owners of the chicken butchery) live there. The rooms that side up to our house are my landlord's sister and the three kids she has taken in. Then there is a kitchen built onto the front porch, and on the other side of that are a few more rooms where my landlord's brother, his wife "Beautiful," (that's what her name means) and their three kids live.
We sat in the sister's house, thinking we were going to ask about testing the son and daughter of "Beautiful" (because those are the two kids we know), but the sister also wanted us to test two of the kids she has taken in. However, they needed to talk to the brother for permission to attend the camp, so they asked if we would return the next night at 9pm.
We were offered drinks, which we turned down out of respect, and they were very appreciative and said we were good people.
While we visited, "Beautiful" went to wake up one of her children.
It was 6pm!
We had a very good visit, and returned the next night at 9pm to see if they were committed.
They were, but they said they had to wait to pay until they got OUR rent money on the first of July.
Testing was funny. We had to keep reminding moms, aunts, cousins, and siblings to be quiet and not help the person being tested. When Jennifer* would say, "How old are you?" in English, you could hear a whisper across the room, "Taminet chenda?" (which means the same thing) so the student would understand the question. I wish I could have taken a picture of all of the huddled around that piece of paper.
All four kids that were tested scored a Zero, but again, that's normal.
While we were there, they got a facetime call from another sister that lives in America. It was her idea to build the house next to the butchery that I live in and use it for additional income. They handed the phone to us to visit with her and her children since we speak English. This happens a lot.
One time in a taxi, the driver found out we spoke English, so he called his brother on the phone, handed the phone to Doug cold turkey, and told Doug to talk. I guess they think we will be instant friends and have tons to talk about if we both speak English.
The visit with Beautiful and her sister-in-law was good, and I was glad for these relationships. Doug usually only deals with the landlord, but it is nice to have a relationship with the ladies over there as well. I actually knocked on their gate two days later because I was having a problem with the electricity and Doug wasn't home. I was glad we had already established a connection.