Friday, November 26, 2010


This is the first big holiday away from home. And I use the term “home” loosely because Colorado, North Carolina and Maine are all home to me. I suppose Moçambique should be on the list too but I’ll wait until I get to Dombe and my house. Anyway, it’s a bit strange to be so disconnected from the United States, especially during the holiday season. Growing up, Thanksgiving meant driving up to my Aunt Judy’s house, having a huge meal with my mom’s side of the family and then laying around watching football. It was never formal and everyone was welcome. During college in North Carolina I got two Thanksgiving feasts: Wagsgiving at the dining hall on campus and then up in Virginia with my dad’s family. I suppose in Maine it was a smaller affair with my roommate Bri but I was always with family. Everyone around me was into the festivities and understood the meaning. It’s hard to explain some of our holidays here as they have no context and my Portuguese still isn’t amazing.

But Claudia and Peace Corps came through again and gave us the afternoon off after model school to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for ourselves complete with turkeys! People are making mashed potatoes, green beans, salads, other veggies and tons of desserts. As we did on Halloween, we have the chance to create out little ‘America’ bubble and pretend for a bit that we’re not halfway around the world. And with just a week left before we swear in and are spread throughout the country, I think we all need this time together.

But sticking with traditions I’m going to share what I’m thankful for on this first Thanksgiving in Africa. I am thankful for my amazing support system of friends and family in the States that have supported me through this entire crazy process. I’m thankful for my parents who raised me to be independent and have the confidence to move to Africa to teach for two years. I’m thankful for Marv and Mary and for their constant support of both me and my parents.  I’m thankful for my brother because he’s the only other person who knows what it means to be a product of the incredible Rosser-Newman household and for Ashlee because I’m super psyched to have a sister and because she brought Emmah, Amelia and Luke into my life. I’m thankful for Kristin for putting together my book of letters and for everyone that contributed to it. It has truly saved me on some of those bad days and since the mail sucks here, I always have something to open and read each week. And on that note, I’m thankful for care packages. The first one from my mom finally got here and it was wonderful to hold that little bit of her and America in my hands. I’m also thankful for Moçambique, my host family and their generous hospitality. But right now, I think I’m most thankful for my fellow volunteers.  I am with some absolutely incredible people and I wouldn’t be able to do this without them. We are now friend/family/counselor for each other and it’s going to be even more important to have these bonds over the next several months as we spend more holidays alone and adjust to our new lives. My closest friends are going to be pretty far away which is a major downer but I’m getting to know others better now and am confident that my nearest neighbors will be there when I need something. It’s kind of crazy how quickly we all bonded but this isn’t exactly a normal situation. Overall I guess I’d say I’m thankful to be here, to be healthy, to be happy and to have so many wonderful people in my life.

I love you all so much!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving! Last night I was giving my family a lecture on the difference between Yams and Sweet Potatoes and we established that real Yams are from Africa (and then I paused to tell Thomas "Where Auntie Remily is, do you think she's eating yams today?") and Yams that we know here are actually a different color sweet potato. Believe it or not, you and Africa come up daily around here.

    Love and miss you!

  2. As I have told you at every opportunity, I am thankful that I have the best daughter in the world (best son, also)! We missed you much yesterday and all were so excited to be able to actually talk to you on the phone. Can't wait to see more pictures.

  3. Well, here it is, another Thanksgiving has come and gone and look at us now! I think back to the first Thanksgiving I spent with you (at Villiage Inn--yikes)and can't believe the journey we've both been on since. Time goes so quickly (sometimes not first enought)and wonder where has it gone. I'm sorry for not talking to you yesterday, but I felt it was important for you to have that time with the rest of your family as I know how important the Thanksgiving Day Holiday is to you all. Being a part of my new family is now as important to me as my family. We all have so much to be thankful for, I know how you feel. I look forward to the time when we'll be able to spend Holidays together again with all my family. However, I thank you with all my heart for accepting me into your family, and so openly. I love you---be safe!

  4. Well, OK, so your post here maybe gets [almost]as close to my soft side as my "surprise guests" did to yours yesterday when we called you! Mem, Mary and I agreed Tommy was in rare good form: he was still spicey all the way back to his car seat when we ended our call!

    But I response to your latest posting: I have often said my mixed bag of achievements will all pale beside my role as a parent. You - and your brother - are the confirmation that I have been a good man, regardless of anything else I will accomplish. Your messages to us, the work you are doing...all that and more assured use of your choices!

    I am certain the work that lies ahead in Dombe is meant for you. You will be exceptional - and you will make a difference. What I have learned so far from you, and from reading what other PC volunteers say is this: "making a difference" will not be measured by any means with which we are familiar. It is "measured" in lives expanded, knowledge exchanged and divisions reduced.

    You will do all of that!

    Love, Dad

  5. I am with Granny and setting her up for a Google account so she will be able to comment on your blog site!! I am so thankful I have an incredible niece like you – willing to give up everything (I don’t think we can really appreciate just how much you have given up) to go to a far corner of the world, deprive yourself of so many creature comforts, and give to others of your skills and your wonderful sunny spirit in the hopes that they will have a better life. Love you so much!!

  6. I tried to post a comment but hadn't verified my account properly so hope this one works. I've enjoyed being able to keep up with you on your blog from the beginning. My friends are probably getting tired of my talking about my wonderful granddaughter in the Peace Corps. As Julia and I read your blog together today we both becamse quite tearful. We miss you (I always think of our Thanksgiving holidays and shopping together and cherish those memories) but are so very proud of what you're doing and wish and pray for your safety and wellbeing.
    Much, much love always. Granny