March 29, 2013

6 months


I've officially been in Mozambique over 6 months. I feel like this is a huge landmark in some ways. I've (almost) made it through the first trimester of the school year. I have made it through the first three months at site which PCVs say are by far the most challenging.

I have to say that I feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity to be immersed into another culture and learn SO much about Mozambique. Even 6 months in, I've noticed myself adopting a more Mozambican attitude of “go-with-the-flow.” I've stopped stressing out about teaching, and have accepted the fact that sometimes I'm going to look like an idiot...it's inevitable. I've stopped showing up to places on time, and have started bringing a book everywhere I go. Messica is starting to feel less like the surreal backdrop of my life, and more like a home away from home.

That being said, my Mozambican life is taking off! There is hardly a time walking around Messica that I don't see at least 2 students in passing, and stop to talk to at least 1 colleague or person from church. I was walking home with one of the Pedagogical Directors of the school yesterday and he laughed at me for talking to everyone on our way, and when I was welcomed home to choruses of “Ana! Ana!” from my neighbors, he made a comment about how all the crianças here really love me. What can I say? :)

Like I said before, I'm almost done with the first trimester of school. It seems like it just started, but no complaints here to have a few weeks off of teaching. Yesterday was our last day of classes. Next week are provincial tests, and after that there is a week of correcting tests and calculating grades. Then the students have a week break, and us new education PCVs have our Re-Connect conference. Central volunteers will be joining with the volunteers in the South for our conference. I'm excited to see some fresh faces that I haven't seen since swearing-in in December!

For our last day of class before provincial tests, I decided to put together a very simple review game. I divided the class into two teams. One person from each team would start at the back of the room. I would read out a question and say “vamos!” The representatives from the team had to run to the front of the room and answer the question on the board. The first one to answer correctly got a point for their team. I didn't realize how into the game they would get. It got really intense...and really LOUD. I tried to keep it under control, but left my classes both Wednesday and Thursday with a headache and a hope that the students were learning as they were screaming and cheering on their teams...I guess we'll see. Lesson learned: take some ibuprofen before the next attempt at a review game.

Besides teaching and headaches, I've been working to get the music group (that I already mentioned a couple of blogs ago) started. Remember the saga of me walking for hours into Mato Messica and meeting the man that knew a ridiculous amount about traditional Mozambican music? Last weekend JUNTOS (Jovenes Unidos No Trabalho para Oportunidade e Succeso) held a training for Mozambican counterparts in Chimoio. So my musically talented friend and counterpart, Tobias Dzandiwandira, accompanied me to Chimoio for the training. I didn't really realize that the training was primarily training for the workshops that JUNTOS will be having for students regarding health and community issues in Mozambique. Basically the training included model sessions about things such as gender equality, HIV/AIDS transmission, diversity, etc., and most of the sessions were led by Mozambicans. Seeing as Tobias is a little older than the ideal Mozambican counterpart, I couldn't really see him leading any of these sessions for our students. He is a great counterpart for the music aspect of the group, but as far as the health/community/JUNTOS aspect goes, I slowly realized that he wouldn't be quite as ideal.

So after quite the insightful weekend and learning a lot more about JUNTOS, I got even more excited about the group. I talked to my school's director about the group, and he told me about a similar culture group that already exists at the school. He told me what professor leads it, and that I should talk to him about potentially joining the groups together. So that's exactly what I did. I found the teacher that leads the current culture group and talked to him a little about the group that already exists. They practice in the afternoon and are primarily a group of singing and dancing. They perform at community events on Mozambican holidays.

In talking to this other professor, I realized that it would be dumb to have two of the same groups coming from the same school. I told him about the JUNTOS group with the health aspect, workshops, trocas, etc. and he seemed very interested. I also told him about working with Dzandiwandira for the music, and he got really excited because Dzandiwandira is well known throughout Messica and Mozambique for his knowledge and experience in traditional music.

We are still trying to figure out exact details about our group, but it is in the works! Since the group that is already formed meets in the afternoons the students that have classes in the afternoons are not able to participate. In order to open the group to all students regardless of when they have classes, I've decided that I can lead morning practices, the other professor can continue to lead afternoon practices, and we will be able to join the two groups together on the weekends to practice as one group. We are going to try to add more instruments, with the help of Dzandiwandira, to the preexisting group, and have a traditional Mozambican music/singing/dancing group. I'm really excited to see what it turns into. I'm going to attend one of the afternoon practices in a couple of weeks, and then I'm looking to start my practices next trimester.

For the next couple of days, I'll be mostly hanging out at church. Today is Sextafeira Santa (Good Friday), so I will be at church for a few hours for whatever service they have planned. Tomorrow we have chatequese (basically Sunday school), and Sunday is Pascua! I will also be standing in as a Godmother for a 10th grader that is going to be baptized on Sunday, whose Godmother is in Maputo and can't make it up for the service. It should be an interesting next couple of days celebrating my first Easter in Mozambique! I pray that you all have a blessed Easter wherever you may be celebrating!

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