Wednesday, October 23, 2013

31. The Host Family

In theory, all Peace Corps volunteers should have a host family.  Host families help new volunteers adjust to the different culture, practice language skills, and offer insight into the volunteer's new community.  Host families can help ease the process of integration, laying down roots from which the new volunteer can start to build their social experience.   Such support can be a crucial and critical aspect of a new volunteer's social development.

Which is why living next to Dona Marcelina's family has been extra-double especially awful.  In addition to being our landlady, Dona Marcelina is also (technically) the head of our host family. Unfortunately, she has done nothing to make us feel welcome or to help us feel at home.  She only comes to see us when she needs her money, and the rest of the time, she's cold and distant. Her children steal from us and call us "the A'zungu," and her second son, Dashido, is the worst and least respectful student that Dan has ever taught.  I cannot imagine a more terrible host family for a set of incoming volunteers.  

That's why, as part of the process of switching houses, we've also decided to get a new "family."  We've asked Leme and his wife to act as a host family for the new volunteers-- to invite the volunteers into their house, to introduce them to the other teachers, or to just talk to them or watch a movie together-- and both Leme and his wife seemed honored by the request.  Leme, actually, was overtly excited.  

"Can I go to Chimoio and pick them up?"  He asked.  

"No..." said Dan.  "That's okay.  You can just meet them at the new house."

"Okay!"  Said Leme.  "Okay, I'll do it!"

So now the newest volunteers are getting a very large house, two loyal dogs, 8 years of good service in the name of their organization, and the single most wonderful host family in all of Mozambique.  

Oh, and all of the kids in town already know how to "pound it."  

On second thought, maybe I just won't leave.  I love it all too much.  

Leme plays with his daughter and his niece.  
Dan takes a walk with 2-year-old Marnela


  1. I think its so great that you and your husband are doing so much for the next group of volunteers :) I hope when I begin my service that whoever I replace (if I replace anyone at all) are just as kind as you two.
    I can't believe ur service is almost over ....I have been following your blog for about 8months and ur my absolute favorite writer to follow. I will definitely miss reading your posts and following your journey. you're an amazing writer and u seem like a great person (and couple) also. best of luck to you and Dan!

    1. This was a great comment to wake up to! Thank you so much! Best of luck to you, as well, when you begin your Peace Corps service. It will be an amazing experience!

  2. Oh, no! I was writing you a comment and it disappeared, but I shall try again! Such is life in Moz, right, Lisa? Hi! My name is Heather, and I remember reading your blog shortly before I left the States to become a PCV in Mozambique myself. I'm a Moz 19-er over on the coast at the Inhambane border with Sofala. I recall being both excited and scared to come, and I found your blog and your writing style matter-of-fact and your honesty endearing. I don't think I've ever met you in person, but I have been thankful for you and your stories from afar, and I wonder if you have ever considered combining these writings into a book? How quickly the new and nervous become the more experienced mentors, and then they up and leave. I wish you and Dan uma boa viagem, and maybe we'll meet each other some day on the other side... : ) <3