Wow, it’s already September! In the states, summer is coming to an end and the kids are headed back to school. Here in Mozambique, the dry season (winter) is winding down and it’s beginning to get hotter. Where I’m living it’s been consistently 91º for the past week or so. It’s been nearly a month since my last blog post and so much has happened within that time. Since my last post, I have completed training, swore-in, and have been at site for almost a week now.
The first week of phase 3 consisted of more Portuguese and local lingua lessons, more technical and administration sessions, and quite a bit of homework. With swearing-in closely approaching, I decided it was finally time for a haircut. Shout out to my fellow cohort member Megan for doing a great job (she was the barber throughout training)! Up until phase 3, I hadn’t been sick but it finally caught up to me. The first weekend back I got sick and stayed in for a couple of days; luckily, it was nasty and raining those days. With any free time I had, I spent time with my friends that would soon be in different parts of the country. We watched movies, ate, laughed, baked cookies (shout out to Isa), and I even introduced them to Leg Wrestling (I was the champion of both right leg and left leg).
The final weeks of phase 3 had some pretty big events. On a Friday we had our final oral language exam which I thought went pretty bad. To my surprise, I improved from my first two exams. Later that same day, we had our homestay competition. The homestay competition consists of various household tasks that we should have learned during our training. There were two groups with three teams in each one. The tasks included: pounding and sifting peanuts, shaving a coconut, starting a charcoal fire, and washing an article of clothing by hand. The mães and host families really love this day and take great pride in seeing their “children” complete the activities. After lots of cheering, laughing, frustration, cut fingers, etc., the competition came to a close and we all gathered around for the results. Within my group, my team got first place. We were also individually graded and I received an 18/20. The following day we had our homestay celebration. The homestay celebration is a ceremony where all the host families, local officials, and Peace Corps staff come for a ceremony followed by eating, music, and dancing. It was a great day with family and friends where we showed our appreciation to our families and the community for hosting us for three months.
After 13 long, challenging, stressful, and rewarding weeks, August 29th was the day we had all been waiting for. We packed our remaining items, said goodbye to our families who had graciously opened their doors to us for the past 13 weeks, and headed to the Ambassador’s house in Maputo to swear-in. In attendance at swearing-in were the 44 volunteers, Peace Corps staff, ambassadors, Ministry of Health officials, language professors, and many more. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with the singing of the national anthems of both Mozambique and the United States, many speeches, encouraging words, and optimism. After raising our right hands and repeating both the oath of the United States and the Peace Corps pledge, we officially became Peace Corps Volunteers! It was now time to exhale and relax, we made it. We took lots of pictures and ate a variety of delicious snacks and desserts.
After the ceremony, we all went to the hotel and checked into our rooms. As it was our last night together, everyone went out to dinner in various groups. I enjoyed a delicious BBQ Pulled Pork burger and a chicken burger at Txhapo Txhapo. We then went to the market again to meet up with others before heading back to the hotel. After 13 weeks, training had officially come to an end and the next two years were right in front of me.
Beginning of Service
The following day after swearing-in, August 30th, I caught the 6:30 am flight north to Nampula. The 30th is also Dan’s birthday so the eight of us in Nampula celebrated his birthday in the city. The couple of days in the city consisted of: shopping a lot, eating a lot of pizza, cheeseburgers, and Chinese food, cooking “Walking Tacos” (tacos with Doritos because we couldn’t find taco shells), spaghetti, and chorizo, playing cards, laughing, and of course, a lot of sleeping.
I’ve now been at site several days now and there’s a lot to do. Every day thus far I’ve gone shopping for household necessities, cleaned, organized, and killed lots and lots of bugs. I’m hoping to be settled in within the next week or so and start setting my schedule and routine.