Sunday, January 29, 2012

Back in Moz

Hello from the other side of 2012!

We’re all in this New Year together so let’s make the best of it: Kick some butt & take some names.

I’m back in Mozambique for my second year. Got back from the states after a whirlwind trip home that covered Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Thanks to Peace Corps who made it all possible. Thanks to Moms & Dads who flew me down to Florida and paid for innumerable meals and movies out nevermind use of their vehicles. Thanks to Jame for insisting I need new shoes and to Dad who insisted I return to the use of underarm deodorant. And thanks for all you who made the effort to make it down to Old Saybrook to see old Micah Carbonneau.

Some highlights of the past few weeks include meeting the new roommate Mac, who in this very short year has proved to be the most positive person I’ve met thus far. He is so excited to be in Peace Corps in Machanga. To quote him: “My excitement is going to explode!”

He’s a runner like me, so already we’ve hit the roads making for an unstoppable Muzungu attraction. Our first jog out, we had in the course of a 35 minute jog over 30 people join, mostly women and children. One woman had a baby on her back bouncing. Another was was a child with a bandaged foot.

Mac is huge, blond and as friendly a public relations figure as South Carolina could produce. He is gregarious and earnest and damned determined to improve his already capable Portuguese and get a handle on the local language. (he already knows how to ask: ‘Who farted?’ in N’dau) There’s a funny story how that little gem was acquired. All that and he still gets down on himself that he’s not doing enough. That’s your typical Peace Corps Volunteer for you. So, he’s been a big inspiration.

Looking back on my trip home I’d more then a few special memories and excellent dos. I gave Jesse a few baths, we all saw the Muppet Movie together and had ourselves a Dance Party to the BeetleJuice Soundtrack: “Jump in the line! Rock your body in Time! Okay! I believe you!”

I visited the Wadsworth & New Britian Musuem of Art, did Yoga in Brattleboro, VT, skied for the first time in 10 years, and saw War Horse, Tintin, Super 8, & Hugo. Mom & I went kayaking and bicycling in Florida, I ate copious amounts of pizza, and saw more n’a few good friends including the Testermans and the Roesella’s.

Some sad news: A few days before Christmas I got word that two volunteers in Mozambique were killed in a car accident. Two other volunteers were in the car with them, one was from my group. He suffered a major concussion and back spinal injuries, and the other escaped unharmed. They had hitchhiked in the afternoon, the car was new, only the driver was going too fast and didn’t make a corner forcing a roll over. The two women aged 22 and 23 were from Mac’s group and had only been at their new sites for less then a week.

Our country director went over at my group’s mid service conference last week details of the crash and its aftermath. Their coffins were draped in the flag and each step of their flight back to the states was accompanied by a Peace Corps official. The outpouring of support from the embassy, the expat community, the staff, and volunteers has been very moving. It is a tragedy but one of the risks we take. I and other volunteers who never met these colleagues could not help but be affected. We’re a pretty big family here. And it's a period of our lives that force us to grow and rely on one another a good deal. Some of the new volunteers are quite shook up. The one volunteer who survived the crash is eager to return and I understand the mother of one of the women is eager to come to Mozambique to meet her daughter's host family and see the community where she would have served.

When I was home I was asked often what I’d do following Peace Corps. An occurrence like this strengthens my belief in the organization. It forced me to consider the purpose of my mission here: to serve others and live as they do with all inherent dangers. It is nothing compared to service in the Army where death is an expected element of service.

Back home, this being my fourth year abroad, I realized I no longer identify myself as uniquely American. I’ve had four years to identify myself with a broader community of Romanians, Mozambicans, expats, missionaries, and international service workers, and it’s compelling work. I’m less certain I want to live my life in the states, but of course everything changes.

I am trying to further investigate jobs in the Peace Corps. And still I feel compelled to work in Hartford. But, if it’s between anywhere USA and abroad, I’d likely go abroad. Of course my first consideration is work and family. Fortunately, these past years I've been home to see family once a year. I doubt I could go any longer than that. Nothing is more important then family.

1 comment:

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