Somehow we have completed seven weeks of training. The last several weeks have been routine, almost boring. Then Model School started and the countdown to site placement. Amazingly I wasn’t terrified before teaching that first lesson. Up until this point, when I started teaching or had a big presentation I called my dad. He was the one who could calm me down, get me focused and remind me that I would do fine, that no one would know if I messed up but me so just go with it. It worked every time too. A quick phone call was all I needed to chill out and get through it. But then here I am in Africa, thousands and thousands of miles away, nine hours ahead, preparing to teach in Portuguese and I can’t call him. The time when I figured I would need that pep talk the most and I was all alone. But you know what, I did okay. I took a moment and thought about what he used to always tell me and proceeded from there. Sure I was a bit nervous when I look out at those kids’ faces and realized I was about to teach them about the levels of organization of ecology in Portuguese but it went well and I felt confident. I taught my second lesson later that week and have my first “dupla” (two classes back to back) in the morning. I imagine my Portuguese can only get better at this point so hopefully I’ll still feel confident when the real deal starts in February.
Speaking of the real deal, we had site placement on Thursday before heading off for our mental health break at the beach. Claudia, the PST manager had asked for suggestions to make the announcement more fun than just opening our envelopes all together and those of us in Education thought it would be cool if there was a giant map of Moçambique and we were all blindfolded and silently led to our site. We would still have our envelopes with site details but when you removed your blindfold you’d be standing at/near your site and could immediately see who was nearby. It’s a shocking experience anyway so why not make it more fun and have immediate locations results. Unfortunately the Heath folks complained that they didn’t want the shock factor (for them the site placement is more about the organization they’ll work for and not location within the country) and we got overruled. Instead we opened our envelopes together and then walked to our province on the giant map. It was still entertaining and exciting and tense but the blindfolds would have been fun! But back to the point. As I read the letter on the outside of the envelope I realized my packet seemed rather light as compared to others which only increased my anxiety. I wish I could really describe what it felt like to open the envelope and pull out that sheet and read my name. There was electricity in the air as everyone digested what they saw and walked to their province, looking around to see where their friends were going and who was moving in the same direction as them. After so many months of unknowns, we finally knew where we’d be living and working for the next two years. And without further adieu, although I did already post it on facebook, I am headed to Manica Province and the Escola Secundária de Dombe. It’s a brand new site so information is limited. What I do know is that it’s a mission school nearish the Zimbabwe border, in/close to the mountains, cooler in temperature and supposedly very beautiful. From the Lonely Planet Moçambique book I can say that’s its near several national reserves, the tallest mountain in Moz and has a lot of opportunities for hiking. The biodiversity is supposedly amazing and I should have access to a variety of food. I have a roommate, Mona, who is wonderful and they are actually building our house as we speak (cross your fingers for it to be actually done when we get there in two weeks). We will live on the campus of the school but it’s hard to know what that means exactly. I think it’s safe to assume electricity but maybe even running water. And even though we will be living at the school, the actual village isn’t far but again I don’t know the amenities available. Hopefully some access to internet and maybe a restaurant. Okay so I guess when I said that I was finally happy to have something concrete to work with I was getting a little ahead of myself. But I know my site and that’s really all I need right now. I am excited for the surprises still ahead and am really happy I have someone to face them with.
These Are The Days – Van Morrison