Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The things I´ve learned...

I´ve only lived here for a little over a month, so it may sound cliche to say this, but I have learned a lot about myself thus far. For instance: even bread, when consumed 3 times a day as a main dish can grow tiresome; I can handle squatting with my dirty water bucket bath, squatting over my poop chimney, squatting to wash my clothes on a dirty rock (counter intuitive, is it not?), and dealing with roosters who cannot understand that the sun does not rise at midnight. Those things I am actually quite OK with. What I have learned that I cannot handle is the absolute degradation of my gender. I may be just a woman, but I know that Baghdad is not in Canada. I know that George Bush is not President of South America (or America for much longer! Go Obama!), and I know that red wine is not actually blue. These are real situations I have encountered here. But still, I am supposed to be content with washing clothes and cooking for my husband as a daily routine?I think not. One of the 3 goals of Peace Corps is to share about American culture while I´m here. I fully intend to at least attempt (with the most stubborn of efforts) to teach women that they can be so much more than a stereotype and can do more than fulfill a gender role. Anyone would be shocked at the amount of work 9-12 year old girls do at my house. I know when I was their age I couldn´t balance gallons of water on my head or cook entire meals with charcoal and plastic for heat, or sweep the dirt around our house every morning. 85% or more of the students in Mozambican schools are male. Why? Because the culture and social norms make it so difficult for girls to continue. Unplanned pregnancy, duties to family and general harrassment are some of the factors working against them. There is also a considerable shortage of women for them to look up to as role models of something other than the housewife. I don´t want to force American ideals on them, I just want women/girls here to realize they have choices and they don´t have to do things they don´t want to. Therefore, the solution, in my eyes, to the gender problems lie in education. I´ll go door to door if I have to, or drag the girls to school. Everyone deserves and education and what they do afterwards is up to them. Sorry. I´m done venting now. :) Everything else is going well here. We are going on site visits this Saturday. I´ll get to shadow a current volunteer and see what their life is like for 5 days. It will be a much needed break from my host family. I´m anxious to see the conditions I´ll be living in for the next 2 years as well. I´m sad to not be in the US during this crazy election time! History in the making! Everyone is really pumped about it here. Last couple days were a bit of a struggle for me...thankfully I have a Dad who can help me keep things in perspective, and Cody to write me inspirational/motivational speeches. The one month milestone is rough...but I am going to stick this whole thing out. The Peace Corps is supposed to be the hardest job you´ll ever love, right? Much love to everyone. I honestly miss you all more than I can say.

1 comment:

BeardedDuck said...

Hey Chels, not to make you jealous but I was at that Obama rally in Chicago last night. It was awesome but I think where you are and the celebration you'll have there is a pretty unique way to celebrate this time. His affect is felt all over the world and it is something you could share even more so with all those other volunteers there.
Keep on fighting the good fight with respect to gender roles but remember that it's not the same out there. While it's more open and safe then we may think here in the States and you could probably convince a lot of young girls to strive for more not everyone is going to listen and it sounds like some of the men there might be more then just silently opposed. Do what you gotta do though. I'm envious in my own way for you.