After several interviews and a lot of suspense, I received my site placement where I will spend the next two years! I am going to Manjacaze, Gaza Province to work with two organizations that specialize in nutrition education, food security, agricultural projects, medicinal plant utilization, HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and home based care. I am really excited with this assignment and look forward to learning more about the projects that are currently underway at each organization. Manjacaze is a fairly small town about an hour from the beach and is supposedly quite beautiful. We shall see!
A good friend of mine once said to me that “it’s easy to love a stranger”. We have since discussed this theme, and it has really stuck with me as a great little chunk of wisdom. It is very easy to love a stranger, as when I meet someone for the first time I am usually not focusing on the negatives. I may notice things about their mannerisms or personality that strike me as odd, but for the most part if they make a good impression these early indications of faults are intentionally or unintentionally overlooked. Connection and good feelings come easy at this point, as infatuation is a product of this focus on the positive. Only once I really get to know a person do I begin to see the cracks and the wrinkles, while at the same time becoming less tolerant of them. It’s easy to love a stranger, and to continue on this theme, It’s easy to love a strange culture! I currently find myself in a bit of an infatuation stage; new sounds, sights, smells, languages, traditions, food etc. I feel that I have been like a puppy, exploring everything Mozambican to the limit in an attempt to “integrate”. (What does this word even mean? Peace corps loves this word! I don’t even think I’m very well integrated into American culture! )
However cracks have been called to my attention. I have yet to experience these things firsthand, but we have been talking a lot recently about corruption at the organizational and governmental levels. Additionally we have been speaking about domestic issues, polygamy, sexual abuse in the school systems, cultural subjugation of women and children and other quite depressing yet truthful subjects. I am sure that I will come across these subjects more as I begin working in Mozambique, and this cultural infatuation stage will pass. I am very curious what I will be writing about 3 months, 6 months, 2 years from now. I can guarantee that it will not all be happy, but this is life, and life goes on here. My host father said to me a wonderful piece of Mozambican wisdom when I was discussing the theme of death and the constant presence of infant mortality. “Quando morre andorrinho não morre primavera”. Andorrinhos are a species of bird here that form huge flocks in the spring time. The quote means “when the little bird of spring dies, spring does not die with it”. In two weeks I will be sworn in as a volunteer and move to my site. Stay tuned!