In 6 short months, I will board a plane to Mozambique.
I’ve been accepted to serve in the Peace Corps as an English Teacher. The crazy, little fifth-grade Paige that still lives inside me is nodding with proud approval, in a bossy “told-you-so” kind of way. After years of thought, deliberation and wavering levels of commitment, I’m in. I will spend the next 2 years and 3 months of my life living who knows where in Mozambique. Viscerally confident that this is the right next move for me, I’m truly looking forward to embarking on my greatest adventure yet, committing myself to giving back, and above all, I am excited to learn.
I’ll learn to live full-time in a foreign culture without regular American contact. I’ll learn Portuguese. I’ll learn how to teach English, and teach massive class sizes of different capability levels.
I’ll learn flexibility. My class schedules will change and no one will tell me. There will be 60+ children in my class at any given time. There might not be enough classrooms one year, and so I will teach beneath the mango tree outside. My students and I won’t have access to the supplies that we need, but that I took for granted in the States. Some children will stop coming because their families need their help at home. I will walk far distances to get water. I will have little choice but to ease into and lose resistance to change.
I’ll learn to slow down. I am always thinking about (if not actually doing) at least 9 things at any given time. I’ve got a hunch that in Moz, time moves slowly. There will be fewer distractions. Fewer useless must-dos. I will learn to enjoy time and will cultivate patience.
I’ll learn for the first time what it means to live within a communal society focused on the good of the whole rather than in one where personal gain reigns.
I will learn the joy of simplicity and I will learn creative resourcefulness. There will be few luxuries in Mozambique. I will live in poverty, intentionally. I will live without, and am determined to enjoy that experience, embracing the challenge as a cleanse from materialism and attachment.
I’ll gain empathy. I will begin to understand an entirely new perspective that today is foreign to me. The Peace Corps will open doors to how Africans see the world, the problems and challenges Mozambicans face, the opportunities that live within reach of those in impoverished communities, and the way families and neighbors come together in support of one another.
I intend to learn meditation. With as much free time on my hands as they say I’ll have once I’ve been placed, I plan on finally cultivating that practice. I intend to learn design thinking. I anticipate that books will be my solace in many ways, and I plan on reading usefully. I will train my brain to turn problems upside down, access and utilize unfamiliar perspectives, and uncover concealed opportunity where possible.
I will collect stories. While working on a project for the UNFPA I noticed that the developed world, inclusive of people, international agencies, nonprofits, and governments, lacks authentic storytelling from the rest of the world. We don’t have enough first-hand perspective. I want to contribute to collecting the insight we need to cultivate empathy and help in helpful ways.
I read somewhere that the best thing you can do is to go in without expectations. This way, there are no disappointments and every small victory is meaningful and triumphant. I’m both excited and scared, unsure and certain about this move, but regardless of however it unfolds I know that undoubtedly, I will discover what I am made of and this experience will change my life.
p.s. stay tuned, for hopefully this will give me lots of blogging material