There is one word that keeps coming up when I or any of my fellow volunteers try to describe our feelings on our current situation: overwhelmed. It was overwhelming to say goodbye to so many people that I will love and miss for the next 27 months. I was overwhelmed at training with all these new faces and with the amount of information given to us in 7 hours. The flights were overwhelming. I was awake from 6:45 AM Tuesday morning until about 11 PM last night (Thursday), aside from dozing on the plane. I have no idea what time or day it is because those three days just felt like one very long day. Then today was filled with scary “you’ll probably die or get mugged here” speeches from the Embassy agents and even scarier “you’re teaching students in fluent Portuguese in three months” spiels sprinkled, of course, with lots of shots and hilarious yet emphatic condom lectures from the medical officers. There’s just so much information and so many emotions that I don’t even know what to do with myself.
Somehow, though, even when I get a little panicky I still have this feeling that everything will be fine. Honestly the most overwhelming thing I have experienced is also what I believe has kept me going: the insane amount of love, support, and prayers I have received from everyone back home. So, thank you all because it truly means the world to me.
I don’t even know how to express my gratitude so you’ll just have to trust that your kind words and gifts have made a tremendous impact on my transition so far. Also, please don’t feel bad if I can’t or don’t respond to texts, emails, facebook, etc. right now because I have probably had a total of 2 hours to myself since we arrived at staging and wifi was available for only half of that.
Not that I’m complaining, though, because I love every single person in our group. I really feel like I just made 50 more best friends. There has been some poking fun at my accent, as I knew would happen, but I’m not the only Southerner here so that makes me happy. In fact, there are a couple of people who live in the Atlanta area even. Also one of them has a friend from Conyers, which is strange. So many weird connections—it’s crazy how small the world is.
When we arrived in Africa, sleep deprived and delirious, it was strange that it reminded me a lot of Peru. The houses and shops and markets are just uncanny, down to the Coca Cola umbrellas sheltering the street carts from the sun. It also reminded me of the slum at SIFAT and the one we built on campus with Committee of 19. Lots of lean-tos made from aluminum siding and tarps, lots of slum areas outside of the city. Currently we are staying in a nice hotel…not just nice for Africa. Maputo is a big city on the coast and while we are not allowed to leave the hotel we will come back before going to site so I’ll be excited to actually visit the beach. Until then I’ll just have to settle for the gorgeous view, hot showers, and three delicious meals a day. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Right now I am listening to the DJ outside play “Call Me Maybe” and “Mambo Number Five,” so that’s more than amusing.
Tomorrow we meet our host families and begin Pre-Service Training, or PST (Peace Corps has so many abbreviations). I already know that my mãe and pãe have a 19 year old daughter, and that my pãe is a police officer. Honestly I am most worried about communicating with them, because when I get anxious I have trouble remembering any vocabulary at all. I am excited, though because after much worrying that I would be stuck in English or Math, our Training packets have confirmed that I will be teaching Biology! Woohoo...cells and bacteria and genetics! To put a cherry on top of the situation, there are a pack of Bio nerds who love to talk about science as much as I do and we will be living close together in our own bairro with the Chemistry volunteers.
Ok, so this post was pretty much word vomit so you’ll have to forgive me and chalk it up to the overstimulation currently taking over my life. I love it, though. One of the signs entering the South African airport in Johannesburg hit the nail on the head for me. It said, “They call it Africa. We call it home.”