Wednesday, January 27, 2010


In the Peace Corps people talk a lot about how the most meaningful things are the little day-to-day victories. Today in one of my classes I asked for a volunteer to read a definition written on the board. I was answered by blank stares. I waited and asked two more times before a girl finally stood up (in Mozambique students stand to answer questions or otherwise speak in class). The next time I asked for a volunteer, after a slight pause the same girl started to stand again. I thanked her, but told her I wanted a new person. I waited again and asked two more times before another girl finally stood. The third time I asked for a volunteer a girl stood up right away. The fourth time I asked for a volunteer six students jumped up at the same time, making me laugh out loud. On the walk home from town one day some girls came running out from a house with their hands extended, asking for money. When I told them I wasn’t giving them money they yelled at me in Tchopi. A week later I walked by the same house and the girls yelled “Oi, mulungo!” I responded “ I have a name, but it’s not mulungo.” They giggled at this idea. About ten seconds later a girl hesitantly asked “what’s your name?” So they called “goodbye Anata” after me as I walked away. The following week when I walked by one of the girls yelled, “hey! I forgot your name, what is it?”
Every morning before school the students and teachers convene for one or some of the following: announcements, the national anthem, a prayer, or a parable. This morning my director addressed the students (who are just the 8th and 10th graders in the morning), “you guys all look very nice this morning. I like the beginning of the year, all of the students look so well put-together. But after three months this is going to look like a maternity clinic. This is a school for serious students. If you guys aren’t serious about studying, if you want to get pregnant, go to a different school. We want only those students who are serious about studying here.” The Mozambican manner of speaking is much more blunt than the American manner of speaking. Mozambicans will say out loud what Americans would generally say only behind closed doors or peoples’ backs. At the opening ceremony for the school year, a woman walked by with a baby on her back and one of my colleagues said to her and our other colleagues standing nearby “have you no shame? Four babies and four different dads!”
This afternoon I used a capulana to carry a child on my back in the manner of Mozambican women for the first time! The youngest girl in the orphanage who is three was incredibly tired and cranky, but refused to lie down to take a nap, so I put her on my back where she quickly fell asleep.

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