It’s the first day of the first trimester of 2015. Noon. I stare at myself in my makeshift capulana-framed mirror. I look tired. I’ve decided to forego makeup this summer. Beads of sweat have formed on my upper lip. There’s already a mark on my white teacher’s coat – a bit of ink from a pen I dropped earlier, when I plopped my head into my hands, frustrated with lesson planning. My hair is trying to break free from its loose bun. Quite a few strands have succeeded. Sigh. Surrounding my mirror are pictures, cards, inspirational words, and some artwork I’ve collected in the form of museum postcards and lame sketches. The pictures span both space and time: my dad and I with a sled in Colorado in 1992, my friend and I cheesing under the Eiffel Tower in 2013, me jumping at the top of a misty Volcano in El Salvador in 2010, my sister and mother grinning before getting on a carnival ride in Philadelphia in 2012. Taking a deep breath, I will myself to absorb these positive memories, feeling the love and support of people near and far. Monday, let’s do this.
I’ve now got three weeks under my belt, and I can definitely say my second year of teaching will be different. I’ve got a lot of the same students this year, which I’m pretty excited about. After seeing how much they’ve grown in one year, I can’t imagine how they’ll be come November. Fingers crossed for positive changes! I’ve also got a bit more responsibility. I’ve got five classes instead of four, meaning three extra hours of teaching, and I’m a ‘diretor de turma’ for one of them. I feel like a more integral part of the school now. I know most of the students, and reciprocally, I am known. It’s nice to be known. Kids feel comfortable coming up to me now to ask about English Club and JUNTOS, to borrow a dictionary, or to complain that I’m not teaching their class this year. I have more rapport with my colleagues. I’m more familiar with the education system in Mozambique, and I have the curriculum I created last year to lean on. In many ways, this year will be easier.
I’m a little sad that my ridiculously long vacation is over, but it’s been nice to re-establish some routine in my life. After so much traveling it’s comforting to settle back into my morning yoga, afternoon classes, sunset runs, and evening grading. It’s not fun getting back into work mode – but this year I will definitely be playing as hard as I work! On the play agenda for 2015: explorations of central Mozambique, a music festival in Swaziland, the Victoria Falls Half Marathon in Zimbabwe/Zambia, touring South Africa with my parents, relaxing in Zanzibar, and maybe even trekking up Mt. Kilimanjaro!!!
It’s weird being at this point in my Peace Corps service. I finally feel at home here, thus it seems like the real work is just beginning. And yet, I’ve already made the long climb to the top of the mountain and put on my skis, and now all that’s left before me is the descent: the fastest part. Either way, it’s going to be a great ride!