Another few months have gone by since my last post, but I do have another reason to write. I am now completing one year here in Mozambique.
A year ago, I was getting onto planes and making my way over to the unknown land which has since become my home. This crazy adventure comes full circle, as just a couple weeks from now I will be going back to the training site to help with the training of the new batch of education volunteers. I have mixed feelings about that.
On one hand, I am very excited; this is something I wanted to do since being in training. I think visiting volunteers are an essential part of training. It is great getting a real perspective of what the next two years will be like. Of course, though, trainees have no idea what they are getting into – and it isn’t a bad thing.
I have said it before, but looking back to me at training, and me now are night and day. I went from a bright eyed trainee, to a busy ass volunteer. From not speaking Portuguese, to speaking it way more than English. From a novice in this country, to feeling like a seasoned veteran (it takes a lot for something to surprise me in this country). The empty cement box that I came to, is now a home full of life. The new faces I came to, have now become my new family. I have had extreme highs, and just as deep of lows. It all balances out, though, and it is better now than ever. I definitely could not have foreseen any of this experience.
On the other hand, I have had a gut wrenching realization that I have hit the mid-way point of my service. And judging by this year, the next year will fly by. The volunteers that visited our training last year are now leaving in the next two months. This means that I only have the same amount of time left in this country. I like life here…I can’t really imagine going to something different. Everything has become normal, and I am going to miss it when that day comes.
When I dreamed about my Peace Corps experience, I definitely didn’t imagine it like this. I imagined being immersed in a village community, knowing everyone, and making positive changes left and right. But, that isn’t what has happened. My community is small since I am outside of the village, but I have a real connection with that community. That community is the school; the teachers and the students. They have become my family. Once I came to grips with the fact that ‘this is it’, not the grand community I imagined, I let myself fall in love with it. I also decided to immerse myself in national projects, feeling that I couldn’t do as much here in this touristy town. That decision is paying off, as a lot of the redeeming qualities of my service have come from those broader initiatives. Do I wish I were doing more in my town? Yes. But, I am happy with just focusing on my primary job in Chidenguele (teaching), and leaving the secondary projects to the national level. Yes, this means that I am spending more time on my computer/phone, rather than giving talks and doing community events – but someone has to do that part and I am happy doing it. Also, if all goes well in the next year, I will help bring a computer lab to my school. This will give the students here an opportunity to set themselves up for the future in this rapidly-changing technology-driven world.
To bring this post to a close — Last month, I had a joint birthday party with my amazing roommate, Manuel , while mother and brother were here. It was traditional Mozambican with an American flair (we even did the electric slide :-). That day, for me, was a moment of validation of the community I have become a part of. People from all over the world came together (Mozambicans, Americans, Russians, Germans, French, Congolese) – no matter their cultural differences. Everyone was there to enjoy the day together –and eat/dance/drink/be merry. I saw the friends I have made; I saw the culture I have lived in, accepted, and adopted; I saw my mother and brother fitting right in; and, I saw how wonderful things really are. Those moments are priceless, and those are the moments you remember forever. It is the smaller things in life that we cherish, and I have plenty of those smaller things to be happy about.
Here’s to another year.