This blog began in the final months of 2014 as I began my Peace Corps service in northern Mozambique. Throughout those two years of teaching eighth graders, I grew to dislike the URL I chose at the outset – how presumptuous and naive and utterly inexperienced to assume that I might move any sort of mountain in a foreign country (see this post at the end of my first year). Since then I have come to understand life as about enjoying the slopes of mountains rather than standing on the peak or blasting a tunnel through its core. It is the mountainside that nourishes life, and depending on where that mountain sits – be it southern California or Latin America or northern Mozambique – a unique culture develops that would be lost were someone to come along and move it. Even metaphorical mountains belong in the mind of the beholder, and for someone else to (overly) assert their will in such a situation would be to damage the integrity of the slope.
From September 2017 until June 2018, I will return to Mozambique as a U.S. Fulbright Fellow with a different end goal: to appreciate and set down in words the uniqueness of the Mozambican “mountainsides.” As the recipient of a creative grant, I seek simply to write about Mozambique for the English-speaking world – to peel back the curtain created by African development media and a foreign national language (Portuguese),thereby offering a glimpse of life in the Austral African country.
This blog evolved into an important source of self-reflection during my first two years in Africa, and even throughout my hiatus in America. It will continue to fulfill this personal role and, hopefully, offer some insight to those who happen upon it. The work of my Fulbright project will not find its way into the posts here, but it will be informed by it. This blog, however, is me – a clickable document attesting to my growth since moving to Mozambique. Little by little, I have accumulated enough experiences to outline the worldview herein presented. Little by little (English); pouco a pouco (Portuguese); panandi panandi (Ciyawo) – the expression is ubiquitous across Mozambique. Life happens little by little, so take a moment to appreciate it.
Alas, the URL cannot be undone, nor should it: the alliteration is pleasant and the content serves as a reminder of the hope and tenacity that brought me to Mozambique in the first place. An excerpt of the poem that inspired everything remains below for moments of self-doubt. Don’t presume to know the experience of another. Move your own mountains, and don’t lose yourself if growth only comes little by little.
“So be sure when you step,
Step with great care and tact.
And remember that life is a balancing act.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)
Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
– Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go