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!