Monday, September 27, 2010
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I'm signing in for the last time and taking note that I've posted 47 times since my arrival in Mozambique, a success considering the fact that I haven't written in a journal that many times...ever. The last six months have been some of the busiest of my life. Wrapping up a Peace Corps service is no light task. As I began to jot down a to-do list, I fell deeper and deeper into my chair. The race was on. November 13th was the finish line and it was me against my own goals.
My primary responsibilities were to prepare my grades and grade maps at both the secondary school and the university, annual grades for 500 students. As stated in the previous post my university students completed their final project and I was talked into scanning all of their work, which called for a midnight run to Massinga and a 5:00am return to teach classes the next morning. I also rushed to finish preparing all of our computers by installing encyclopedias, dictionaries and some last minute network adjustments. We took on the challenge of painting four murals, one of which was a world map; we decided to hand paint all geographic and political information. I then had to make repairs on my house which included lining my veranda with new cane. I wrote a site report with crucial information for the following volunteer.
After these and many other items I packed my bags and headed off for a two week stop in Namaacha where it all began in order to assist in the training of the fourteenth generation of volunteers for Peace Corps Mozambique. Five other volunteers and I worked with the training staff by attendeding language classes, administering classes and painting a picture of what their life is likely to be like for the next two years. My last week in Mozambique was spent in Maputo preparing for lift off. We completed the descriptions of our service and tended to the medical and administrative requirements. On the evening of November 12th we were dropped off at the border and bid farewell. After five hours in the dark and rain our bus arrived and we rode to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Patrick and I flew to Cape Town and spent ten days frollicking in the Western world. Sunny beaches, good food, art galleries, tasteful music and charming hosts all aided in our enjoyment of the Cape of Good Hope. Highlights included watching Patrick crash a scooter through my own rear-view mirror, eating the best scrambled-egg sandwich at a diner called La Superette in Woodstock (go there if you get a chance), and viewing the daunting cape as we cruised down the last of the Atlantic coast on scooters.
And now, after a suiting farewell to a beautiful life on a beautiful continent, I am here in Austin trying to turn the page of a seemingly never-ending chapter. It's hard to remember what all happened in the last two years and yet it's harder to forget. If you've at all enjoyed the story, there is an easy way to help other volunteers. Peace Corps Partnership offers a way to support various projects that volunteers across the world are trying to complete. If that doesn't interest you, there is always the Peace Corps itself. It's never too late to volunteer.
I look forward to returning home to Utah next week and that will bring my voyage full circle.
This is a rogue painter. I don't know who gave her a brush.
In order to paint on the world map teacher Chase said that one had to get an A+ on the big wall. Here are some of the stars showing off their talent.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Disclaimer: Not all of them are correct.
Here is a fun sample from Xitswa. The language is spoken in Inhambane province in southern Mozambique. The majority of my students are native Xitswa speakers and it was fun for them to apply what they had learned in English to their own language. It was also valuable for them to see that all languages contain an internal structure. By demonstrating that, we emphacized that, while we use English in the class, their languages are not less impressive.
This one and the following are of the same idea represented in both Portuguese and English. The student missed a crucial element in the latter half of both trees, but was still able to conceptualize the similarities among our languages.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Two years ago I had a fateful match with what I thought was a black mamba. They say that upon being bitten by a black mamba, one dies within six seconds (popularized in the greatest action film ever – Kill Bill Vol. 1). When asked the question, what you do with the last six seconds, answers may vary. Mine? Eat the snake. So, with my heart pounding I ended the snake’s life with a large steel hoe. Mutilating what the sleeping reptile (actually, not of the black mamba species), I also destroyed the cement floor beneath the snake. Ashamed of my weakness, I decreed that if I ever had another snake in my house, I would act with more composure and cut the snake’s head clean off. Of course, I planned this with the intention of making a belt afterward (what would you do?). To view this pathetic 2005 account, you can see the story in (more or less) January 2008 of this blog.
As my service in Mozambique comes to an end, I believe that I have matured into an efficient volunteer. Every day I see more and more actions and behaviors that differentiate the old Chase from the new. I am proud to say that after two years of personal development, I have also managed to maintain my composure when killing snakes.
After straying into my room while I was playing the guitar, a hissing snake met its reaper. We had a moment of eye contact and it was on. I can't say that I was immediately composed. I was more spry than anything. I jumped on the bed and secured my guitar in on its rack; I then grabbed my rat-beating stick and lighter, more efficient, machete. The hunter had become the hunted. The snake, seeing the commotion, turned back towards the main room. I put my shoes and headlamp on. This was my chance. I had been planning this for two years and already knew what would be my method. There had been too much day dreaming about this moment to leave any room for failure. The snake, not familiar with my wit and experience, slithered behind the couch. I quickly switched my death-notched stick for a broom. This may sound like an odd choice, but remember, I had a plan. I stood on the table and got a good look at the two-foot reptile as he hissed back at me (notice, snakes are always male when recounting stories). I worked my way to the couch and the slithery devil, unaware of what was above him, searched and searched for his hunter. With the broom in my right hand I trapped the snake right behind the head. Unable to get the machete at a good angle to cut the head off, I jammed the point through the back of his head. Pinned, the snake violently threw his body from side to side. Holding my hand on the machete, I moved the couch with the other hand (it’s wicker) and reached for the kitchen knife. Without any hesitation, I cut the head off and ended it.
And that is how I marked my maturation as a fully formed Peace Corps volunteer. The following are some visuals of the aftermath.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
it has been some time since my last update. much has happened. i was briefly in austin, texas to visit jamie. the word from there is that it's hot and malaria can follow you anywhere. i was out of it for the first week. after spending an afternoon on an iv, i was forced to convince the texas department of health that i was not a threat to their fine (and big) state. i arrived safely back in mozambique only after an extra week of u.s. time, mandated by peace corps. a bitter sweat turn of events. i made the rough transition back into life here in inhamussua and things are great. some might say that we are on the right track (you know who you are).
below are a couple of updates on the work we're doing here. not pictured but just as important is that the newly formed art club of inhamussua has been studying the fundamentals of drawing and we hope to move on to painting next week. we are working hard to get our group ready for our end of year finale when we will paint two giant murals on our campus, one to commemorate our agricultural efforts, and the other will display HIV prevalence rates throughout the world.
i am also happy to announce that after a year of sewing and selling goods our sewing club has finally been awarded a match grant to purchase a new pedal driven sewing machine and table. thanks to their hard work, the school's and another private (thanks mom) donation, we will be bringing the machine home next month.
further, i have been corresponding with Books for The World, an american organization that supplies books to schools in many parts of the world. Park Burroughs, a representative of Books for The World, arranged to have two boxes sent to inhamussua (not a cheap task, i'm sure you can imagine) as a bit of a test run. it seems to have gone well. the students were thrilled to get a hold of some new books and the administration received them gracefully. here are some pictures of the students opening the boxes.
thank you Books for The World.
below are some thank you letters sent to books for the world as well as pictures of their authors.
My name is Silvério Francisco.
I am Mozambican. I am from Inhambane city, I am 19 years old and I am a student of the agrarian school of Inhamússua.
For you, we will study English, because your offering will help me to be a man of future. I’m very glad, because that is something difficult to see here in my country. I say thanks and I congratulate the project because I want to study English. I want to give you certainty that this project will be fantastic and will help many students to speak and write the English language.
Thanks Books for The World for help me to be a man of the future.
I am Paulo Manuel Macucha.
I was born in 1987 and I am a natural of Maputo city. I am 22 years old. I am a student of the agrarian school of Inhamússua in the province of Inhambane. I frequent the first year of the husbandry and livestock course.
I would like to thank you for the books we received and for your offering with whole goodness. I promise the good use of books, good advantage and good preserve, because they are very important to us and our future generation to the development of education and the world.
Thank you very much Books for The World.
Paulo Manuel Macucha
let's not forget about the daily work of spreading the good word which is english.