Teaching and JUNTOS

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.” –Steven Furtick

I had a conversation with a friend tonight about how we felt like we weren’t really doing much compared to the other volunteers. You see a lot on facebook or on blogs (like this one, I guess) and it makes you feel like you’re life isn’t as exciting as everyone else’s. Everyone wants to brag about their successes and share them with the world. It feels good and is absolutely something people should do. We just sometimes need to remember that life is not a competition, and even when we feel we are not making a difference, we are. My quote of the day for my students was ““We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if that drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.” –Mother Theresa. I find this to be such an inspiring statement, and it aligns with one of my philosophies about life: that even a small or seemingly insignificant action makes a difference. I have had some tough days here, and I believe I am reaching one of the points in my service that will be mentally tough to get through. Hopefully I can find the strength within myself to continue, and I hope all my fellow volunteers can as well, because we are making a difference.

I have now been in Mozambique for 6 months. It seems so long, and yet so short! We are just coming to the end of the first trimester (finals are next week) and I am just getting my JUNTOS group started, yet it has been half a year since I’ve seen my best friend, hugged my mother, pet my dog, driven a car, swam in a pool, eaten bacon, used free wifi that actually worked pretty well, been in a shopping mall, lots of things I once took for granted. It is strange to think about all together, but individually the lack of any of these things has not hurt my life too much. Sure I miss my family, friends, dog, and home comforts, but it has been much easier to adapt to life in Mozambique than I would have thought a year ago. If I’m going to be completely honest, the things I miss most are paved roads and regular supplies of different kinds of cheese…

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We made corn starch goop with our crianças…

Teaching is going well, though I cannot emphasize enough how different it is from teaching in the U.S. or France. I have found the lack of resources and time to be particularly frustrating, especially with exams coming up next week. The way students here have final exams is through a provincial exam, which makes me nervous. My students are a year behind where they should be in French, plus a few weeks due to my late start date at the secondary school. There is no way they are prepared for the test, but I have done the best I could. My job is to teach them French, not to prepare them for a test which does not accommodate for the challenging learning environment in northern Mozambique. Teaching at the IFP, where I have more resources, smaller class sizes, and more interested and dedicated students is going much better. I hardly ever have discipline problems and my students show up to my study sessions. We have done plays and I have them presenting vocabulary words as a kind of first step to teaching. In June they will start teaching lessons, so I am excited to observe them in the actual classroom.

Two weekends ago was the JUNTOS Training of Trainers. It was held in Metangula, which is a town in northern Niassa on the lake (Lake Niassa/Malawi, the 3rd largest lake in Africa). It was probably the most beautiful town I have visited in Mozambique: the mountains that came right up to the lakeshore, we drove through the mountains for an hour and a half to get there, it was gorgeous! To get there, however, we took busses which took about 9 hours total to get there and had to stay overnight in Lichinga. Coming home, the roads were just terrible: dirt roads wrecked by rains. It took us 9 hours to get 300km. Just the sight of the lake though was probably worth it. That and the refreshing cold weather we experienced! The training was a really interesting experience: we did sessions on leadership and running groups as well as sex ed, HIV/AIDS, and malaria prevention. Some of the conceptions of the Mozambicans, such as my counterpart who believed the first woman got HIV from having sex with a dog, were really interesting to hear. They had a lot of questions, which was awesome. It showed that they were learning, and that what we are doing is actually needed. I am excited to work with my own group and hopefully educate them and change some perspectives!

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I am also excited to be the next Niassa coordinator of JUNTOS! That means I get to plan this year’s workshop in Lichinga and run the training next year. Handover is coming up right after our reconnect in Nampula next month. I’ll be working with Science Fair in Mozambique as well, and may start a REDES group (woman’s empowerment group). We’ll see! I’ve also got my first Mozambican party coming up this weekend and no secondary school lessons to plan for a month since it’s just finals, correcting, break, and conference, so I’m looking forward to what’s to come!

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Making personal flags!

Portuguese word of the day: Sautaque (accent)

Macua word of the day: Nyuwo (formal you, its just fun to say!)

French word of the day: beaucoup (a lot)

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One thought on “Teaching and JUNTOS

  1. Foi otimo te ver tao contente. Fico feliz em saber que esta ensinando e tambem aprendendo algo todos os dias.As fotos os comentarios sao otimos,adorei as criancas elas sao umas das razoes de ter viajado em um lugar tao distante e bonito.Cultura e uma forma de apreender mais arrespeito de nos seres humanos independente da cor da pele e da religiao… BeijosCassio DaSilva Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:33:36 +0000 To: cethand@hotmail.com

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