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|