Sunday, October 27, 2013

10/27/2013: Back to the Basics

I’ve had a couple of conversations with both people here and in the States and realized I should take a little time to back up and explain some of the basics of my Peace Corps service.

Let me start with “why are you doing Peace Corps?”
People often don’t think this question is nearly as loaded as it is. Why did I just leave all of my comforts from home, why did I just leave all of my friends, why am I away from my family for two years? I have the typical selfless reasons: I have the ability to help others, so why not do something? It’s my duty to serve in some form. Peace Corps helps teach and empower youth around the world and that is what is going to help make the world a better place. But as Peace Corps warns, and many people assume, you can’t leave behind everything for 2 years and not have a selfish reasons as well, when things are not going the way you want them, when your students are acting out or project aren’t being completed, there needs to be something from your heart keeping you going. I have wanted to do the Peace Corps since I was about 8 years old, and this is my chance to prove to myself that I can do it. I just graduated college, and just ask my dad, every year I have a different dream job = I have no idea what I want to do with my future, Peace Corps is a great opportunity to take a break and find some direction while still doing something any employer will like. Most important to me I suppose, I’ve always wanted to visit Africa and there doesn’t really seem to be a much better way to do so. I mean, I’m not just visiting; I’m living in Africa.
I’m not really sure if that explains exactly why I am doing Peace Corps, but it is as close as I can get to explaining my inner thoughts and feelings about being in Peace Corps, I honestly think just a lot of it was a sporadic decision to apply and somehow I ended up following through.

What is going on in Africa?
Right now I am not a Peace Corps Volunteer, I am currently a Peace Corps Trainee. We are living all together in a village outside of Maputo called Namaacha learning the language and how to teach our respective subjects. In Barrio (Neighborhood) A & B are the Biology and Chemistry teachers. We have teaching class together at the Biology Hub. About a 30-45 minute walk away is the neighborhood where the Math and English teachers live, they have their own teaching classes. While here, we live with host families to help learn the customs and chores of Mozambique. Come December, following our swearing in, we will all be split up around the country and sent to our sites where we will begin teaching. That is when my actual 2-year commitment begins. Until then it is just like being back in school. At least I have the friends and hang out spots to match the college life so we can unwind after busy days.
We’ve been learning a lot, some of it things that are fairly hard to deal with. Most recently we have been introduced to the corruption in the school systems here and many of the difficulties of teaching science here—technical heavy lectures, no labs, short classes, large classes—none of which are the most conducive to learning Biology. But we’ve also been learning a lot of Portuguese and have finally begun doing our practice teaching and making lesson plans in Portuguese. Some days I feel like I am not learning about Portuguese, but then I look at my Biology textbooks and my lesson plans that I understand and I realize I’m starting to learn the language! We’ve also been learning a lot about how to teach with limited resources and make the best impact we possibly can in our short time here. Though we may feel sometimes we aren’t making an impact of seeing any success, our country director said it best: “We are planting the seeds of trees of shade we may not be able to sit under.”

So here I am, living in Africa for 2-years, hopefully making some impact, but at the very least I am able to live by example. I am able to show up to class everyday and teach the best I can and make science as exciting as it should be to every student, and be an example to the girls that being 22 and unmarried and educated and working is a perfectly great way to live and should be part of their goals for empowerment.
I know I am in for quite the adventure, and hopefully my adventure makes a little more sense now.

So no more procrastinating, I have a Bible Study to plan and a lesson to practice and language exam tomorrow. Until next time…

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