Monday, March 7, 2011

Life of a New Voice in the Peace Corps

New Voices Peace Corps Update
Alissa Ortman
2nd of March 2011

Where might you be if you see children walking goats instead of dogs, women carrying large containers of water or bundles of wood on their heads, and people wearing winter clothes whenever the temperature drops below 80? You might be in Mozambique serving in the Peace Corps!

Greetings New Voices! It's been awhile but I agreed to write an update on life as a Peace Corps Volunteer here in Mozambique to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps this week!* I arrived in Southern Mozambique at the end of September and spent ten weeks in training. This involved living with a Mozambican family and picking up as much Portuguese (the national language here) as I could as well as learning about methods of teaching and participating in a model school program to practice giving lessons to Mozambican youth.

After finishing training and being sworn-in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer in early December I moved up North to the city of Angoche in the province of Nampula (see map). Here in Angoche, I have since started teaching English at the secondary school as well as a few secondary projects. Along with my roommate and the health volunteer also living in Angoche, we have a girl's empowerment group, a boy's art group, and together we help run the youth center started by a previous volunteer.

The boy's art group recently finished painting a mural on the main road into Angoche depicting the problems, causes, and solutions to both the issues of malaria and domestic violence. We spent quite a few weekends working all day in the blistering sun to finish painting the wall, but it was worth it. It was the talk of the town for weeks and people still stop to look at the images and discuss what they mean amongst each other.

Next week we are starting an advanced English class for twelfth grade students and after that gets going we are planning a nighttime adult English course as well. Between our courses at the center, teaching at the secondary school, and our boys and girls groups we are quite busy here in Angoche, but it has been an amazing experience as I'm sure it will continue to be for the remainder of my two years here in Mozambique.

So cheers to Peace Corps 50th anniversary, from one of it's current volunteers. Here's to another 50 years and more of people serving the world over in honor of peace and friendship!

*Unfortunately, the Internet is less reliable in Mozambique than the U.S., so Alissa got this message to us just this morning. We thank her for her extraordinary efforts and wish her the best of luck as she continues to serve as an ambassador of peace; sharing her knowledge about health, science, and, of course, the English language, with her students and community in Angoche.

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