After much anticipation, on Wednesday August 8th, I was officially sworn in by the US ambassador to Mozambique as a peace corps volunteer. The ceremony took place in Maputo and was well attended by various politicians, directors of countless organizations and other figureheads that are somehow related to peace corps. One interesting occurrence that took place was that as new volunteers we were requested to sing the Mozambican national anthem to commence the ceremony. We are all vaguely familiar with the verses and more or less know the total chorus, but we were told beforehand that we would receive the total lyrics printed to read. We were also told that every Mozambican attending the ceremony would generously lend their voice to assist… As you may have sensed a bit of foreshadowing, unfortunately neither of these promises were kept. We stood there in front of 50 dignitaries, diplomats, Mozambicans and Americans and absolutely muddled the entire the national anthem (which is ridiculously long might I add). During the verses you could basically hear a murmur of words, the vaguest humming of a tune and the racket of the construction site next door. Only to rebound with loud, inspiring choruses worthy of praise from any Mozambican national. I was sitting in the front row and had the pleasure/pain of watching as the crowd cringed and suppressed laughter during this whole process. But we were sworn in nonetheless!
So now I am in Maputo where over the next several days about half of the volunteers will fly north to their sites, and the rest will stay here in Maputo to have conferences with our organizational counterparts that we will be working with for the next two years. I am super excited to meet my Mozambican counterparts, as on my site assignment it was mentioned that they are very enthusiastic. I have several days as well to explore Maputo and stock up on hard-to-find things way out in the bush (like brown rice, which I found here in Maputo!) I leave for Manjacaze on Sunday, to start a totally new phase of my life which I am super excited for and definitely ready.
On that note, the training experience for me can be summed up as being a lot like how I experience my life in general; lots of really incredible moments where I felt a sense of joy, wholeness, wonder, love, adventure and purpose; plenty of suffering (unfortunately much of this suffering was gastrointestinal), discontent, frustration and anger; but always with the knowledge that this situation was impermanent. For me the training experience was an extended test of patience; with myself, with my fellow trainees, with the training staff, with my Mozambican family and the Mozambican culture. It was a tremendously interesting learning experience that overall I enjoyed, but am in absolutely no hurry to repeat!
One amazing aspect of my experience was my host family. Their continuous openness to share everything they had, teach me, learn from me and their eagerness to facilitate my cultural assimilation was astounding. I had made them all pose for a group photo with me, which I had blown up and framed. The last night I gave this to them and read a thank you letter that I had composed that left the whole family teary eyed. We already have tentative plans for a Christmastime get together.(which here is called Dia da Familia out of political correctness!) I will truly miss them!
But on the other side I am so ready to live alone again! After two months of having your bathwater heated for you, your lunch waiting for you on the table etc, it just becomes too much! In some ways I feel less prepared than when I got here just because of the amazingly hospitable treatment I received. I will have my own house and yard in Manjacaze, and two years to play with them!
Unfortunately in my opinion, from a technical training aspect, the last several weeks of training were much too redundant and largely would have been better left for me to read the lessons on my own. I say that a large aspect of training was an exercise of patience because many of our classes were spent trying to find 6 ways to convey the same idea, or were spent waiting outside during “breaks” or for classes to commence. The technical sessions about health subjects in the Mozambican context were very effective and I enjoyed them, but in my opinion I could have managed my time much more efficiently myself and had more time to study Portuguese, or spend more time in the community.
But its all over now, and so I am ready for this new exciting phase to begin. Stay tuned as my next post will be an introduction to Manjacaze!
Photos are the family photo I had blown up, from a party that our host families threw for us. (food shot for you foodies! and Me and my Father in our matching Tunics that he insisted we have made for the party!) Also photos are of the group right before swearing in and a shot with my future site mate!