Tuesday, October 1, 2013

54. Notes from the Provincial Coordinator

This year, I was the Provincial Coordinator for the Tete English Theater Competition.  And as the Provincial Coordinator, I can reliably state that I have no idea how it went.  I really couldn't say with certainty if the event was a phenomenal success or a resounding, thundering failure.  For the sake of being decisive, I'll just claim that it was a success.  I do feel somewhat successful.  At the very least, I feel relieved to know that it is finally over.

I can tell you that I will never do anything like this event again.  NEVER.  For weeks in advance, I held meetings, called professors, organized catering, and kept a meticulous budget, all while handing unexpected problems (a forecast of 112 degrees Fahrenheit!) and fielding unpleasant questions and comments ("If my students all get in an accident and die on the way to the competition, can my school expect your organization to pay for all of the damages?")  When I wasn't doing these things, of course, I was teaching my normal workload and preparing my kids for their role in the competition, too.  It was exhausting and overwhelming, and, to be honest, I didn't like it.  Event planning, I decided, means too many people.  Too many pieces.  Too many complaints!  

I will tell you that the competition was difficult for me to enjoy.  I simply couldn't relax.  I woke up at four in the morning on the day of the event, sweating and twisted-up in panic.  Immediately, I climbed out of bed and started writing and re-writing all of my to-do lists.  Here is a sample:

  • Sweep the auditorium space and carry in benches from the main church
  • Greet judges and explain judging procedure
  • Hang posters and schedules, blow up balloons
  • Organize water, snacks, and sign-in sheets
  • Greet each group as they arrive, explain rules
  • Organize travel money and collect signatures
  • Call catering and confirm lunch time (11:30AM)

And those were all things that I had to do or delegate before 9AM.  Thankfully, despite the grimness of the forecast, the temperature didn't seem to be rising above 105 degrees.

As I worked, worked, worked, and ran around, the day flew by in a confusing mass of words and names and endless to-do lists.  Because I was constantly working behind-the-scenes, I didn't actually get to watch the actors or performances.  The only performance that I saw was that of my own kids, and that was only because I threw down my markers and certificates and rushed inside to see them.  

In the end, we all survived.  The kids seemed to enjoy themselves, although that was somewhat hard to for me to determine.  I saw everything through a warbled haze of stress and pure exhaustion.  

I will say this, though-- and this is perhaps as close as I will come to actually complaining outright-- not a single Mozambican told me thank you.

At the end of the day, after collecting their prizes and drinks and certificates that I'd worked so hard to write, all 140 participants left without saying a word.  

It was a bit disheartening.


  1. Did your students tell you "Thank you"? They know you and they know they are the reason you worked so hard. And they will remember that always. They are the difference you have made. Keep that perspective. Thank you for doing such a good job representing our country and culture!

  2. Hey Lisa! I just saw this. As a (somewhat) outsider's opinion, I can say that the competition WAS in fact a success. My kids had SO MUCH FUN. I wish I could have stayed longer at the end to help you clean and whatnot, but we were all kind of whisked away by our motoristas. In any case, even if they didn't have a chance to tell your personally, my kids are all very thankful and can't wait to participate again next year. <3