Wednesday, September 18, 2013

65. Wednesday: A Day in the Life

In June of this year, my Peace Corps Country Director nominated my blog as the “Best in Mozambique” for the first-ever Peace Corps Blog it Home Competition.  It was an honor to be selected, and I felt very proud.  And although I didn’t win the overall competition, I did get an email from Peace Corps Washington, asking if I was willing to help contribute to their up-and-coming Peace Corps Passport Blog.  In the email, they identified me as a “truly exceptional writer.”


I accepted the (unpaid) position and have been in contact with the editor of the blog, who asked me to do a “Day in the Life of a Married Volunteer.”  This was in July. 

It’s now mid-September, and I have had yet to produce a reasonable post for a “Day in the Life.”  I want to.  I really do!  But honestly, it’s been impossibly hard. 

Finally, after writing several twelve-page rough drafts, I came to the conclusion:  In the Peace Corps, there is no such thing as an “average” day.

In Africa, everything is always changing, shifting, moving.  There is an unapologetic casualness that pervades all aspects of scheduling.   Deaths, births, holidays, and other celebrations occur one after the other in a successive pattern of tumbling days.  From one week to another, nothing is the same.  And to be honest, that’s something that I was searching for when I moved to Mozambique.

But constant change isn't condusive to short, concise posts that capture the essence of day-to-day service. 

In the end, I decided to say it with pictures.  I enlisted the help of my ever-patient husband, who tagged along (when he could) for my sprawling, 10 hour workday.  Together, we created the following album of photos—

 “Wednesday:  A Day in the Life of a Peace Corps Volunteer.”

6:00AM.   No alarm clock.  Just roosters and charcoal fires and shrieking, playing children.
But it's nice being a married volunteer.  Look!  I got to bring my best friend with me.
7:00AM.   Taking an outdoor bucket bath
7:30AM.   Hard-boiled eggs and hot tea for breakfast.  Enjoying a moment of relative calm
8:00 - 10:00AM.   Computer classes at the high school.  This class is taught entirely in Portuguese,
so I ask that my adult students have patience 
10:00 - 11:00AM.   Coloring and socializing on the veranda
Spending time with the neighborhood kids
11:00AM - 1:00PM.   Grading papers and lesson planning for my eighth grade English classes
Designing a visual aid
1:00 - 5:00 PM.   Ready for four hours of English classes in the afternoon.
Role call.  Each of these students have been assigned a number (1-56) and answer by number, rather than name
Reviewing pronouns with flashcards (I, You, He, She, It, We, They)
Asking the class, "Where is the ball?"  The correct answer is, "On top of the box!"
Transcribing prepositions of place in both English and Portuguese
Singing a song ("Hand on my head, finger in my ear..."), courtesy of Steph Newton
5:00 - 6:00 PM.   Meeting with the English Theater club.
 Here, Germia and Osvaldo rehearse their scene together in an empty classroom.  
English Theater Club-  Samuel uses my white bata to play the role of "Teacher"
Discussing scene changes with my counterpart (green shirt) and some of the student actors.
Picture from 12-year old guest photographer Paulo
6:00 - 7:00PM.   Watching a movie with the kids (Madagascar 2).
This 10-second exposure shows just how transfixed they are by the film
7:00 - 9:00PM.   Writing and relaxing underneath the mosquito net

While my schedule and experiences vary wildly from day to day to day, the common thread is dedication. And love.  I work hard, but I'm happy.

I think the truth about Peace Corps is:  You're exactly as busy as you want to be.  

1 comment:

  1. That's so cool that you did a day in the life! There are so many things that I forgot to capture before we left, so I think you'll definitely look back at this very fondly. And it's very true, you're as busy as you want to be. Congrats on getting to be a part of the new peace corps blog!