As I begin Phase 2 of PST (pre-service training), I finally have a chance to catch my breath and reflect (and of course, update everyone!). The last month and a half have been a whirlwind of busyness, stress, laughter, lectures, friendship, food, and humbling moments. Monday-Friday, training begins at 7:30am and goes until 4:30pm, with a 60-90 minute break for lunch. Frequently, I have to walk at least a half-hour to and from training. My days are filled with Portuguese classes, and sessions on teaching, medical issues, safety & security, general PC basics, and more. With the constant influx of new information, the effort of language learning, and the cultural immersion, I’m exhausted at the end of every day. However, despite this exhaustion, I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of every day, whether it be a grammatically correct sentence, a connection with a local, maintaining a positive attitude, or feeling more at home in the culture. Luckily, the rest of my service won’t be anywhere near as busy and hectic as PST. Every PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) I’ve talked to says that PST is by far the busiest part of service. I’m looking forward to after PST when I have downtime at my site, but I’m still grateful for the growth that I’m experiencing during training.
The food here is wonderful, with myriad fresh and delicious options. The avocados are HUGE, and slightly more sweet and bland. The bananas are also delicious and a different variety than we have in the States. The way people cook here is also something new, but definitely something to be appreciated. Many meals are cooked in very large aluminum pots, and, depending on the family, either over a gas or electric stove, or more commonly on a carvao (a metal stove-like structure, with lit charcoal underneath). My mãe (Portuguese for “mom”) here has been taking wonderful care of me and cooking tasty meals. I frequently eat french fries, rice, beans, cucumber salad, pão (bread), and pasta. Additionally, when I was sick once (just a nasty cough/cold), my mãe made me soup and brought it to my room. It’s amazing the ways a woman who I practically just met has opened up her home and heart to me. The amount of love, time, and genuine care that she has invested in me is staggering and humbling.
Here in Moz, the PCMOs (Peace Corps Medical Officers) take great care of our health. During Orientation, I received a lot of shots, which will help keep me safe and healthy here in Moz. They also provide us with fairly comprehensive training on how to stay healthy and clean–especially food and water! In the two times that I’ve been sick here in Moz, they’ve taken great care of me. The first time was an incident of what we call “double-dragoning.” I won’t define the term, but just leave it at that it was a GI issue. PCMO sent a car for me, took me to a clinic, and put me up in a hotel where I could rest and recover. PC healthcare is amazing, as I have absolutely no medical expenses for anything. The second time, when I had my cough/cold, they examined me, told me what to get at the pharmacy, and also provided me with some local options for remedies, such as steaming eucalyptus leaves. Both times, I recovered fairly quickly thanks to their care.
In addition to attending lectures, sessions, and lessons of different PC topics, I’m also preparing lessons for micro-teaching (anywhere from 5-20 minutes long). My first lesson was a 5-minute presentation on Mozambican Food vocabulary with handrawn pictures of the foods. Because Mozambican schools are low-resource environments, I’ve been working on finding ways to create my own sustainable and low-cost materials. However, just because I’m going to be a teacher here doesn’t mean that I’m free from homework. Many days after sessions, I have language homework to do in one of the workbooks PC has provided us with. Many evenings after class are spent doing TPC and studying new words, verb tenses, and grammatical structures. I’m happy to say that the studying has paid off, as back in week 4 I achieved the minimum language proficiency level required for swearing-in.
So far, I really and truly love it here. Mozambique is a beautiful and diverse country that generally has a culture of hospitality and openness. I’ve also been lucky to have some fantastic weather in our training village of Namaacha that tricks me into believing that I’m also getting to experience the coziness of Autumn. Phase 1 is over of PST, and Phase 2 has begun. In Phase 2, we kickoff with a 2-day conference with our supervisors in each of the 3 regional PC Moz Hubs. I’m in the Northern region of Moz (Norte Forte!) and after the conference will be headed to the beautiful province of Cabo Delgado to the district of Ancuabe.
I’m excited to see my site, meet my host family there, and see my future house. The next 3 weeks will be full of new experiences as I get to see where and how I’ll be living for the next two years. I can’t wait to see what Phase 2 brings!