Well, it’s official. Come September 29th I am boa viagem-ing my way to serve 27 months with the Peace Corps. It has been an incredibly long and frustration-tastic year applying, but I must have done something right, because I was invited to the exact job assignment and country I had been hoping for from the start.

Since for months I have had no answer to the oft-repeated question of where I would be stationed, I thought I would offer some fun facts about Mozambique. First off, have you seen the flag?

Badassssss

That is the flag of a rockstar country. I mean come on, does your country’s flag have an AK-47 on it? No, because this is the only one in the world. I kind of wish Betsy Ross had stepped up her game a little.

Color-wise: green = land; black = Africa; yellow = mineral wealth; and red = independence. The star represents the nation’s socialist values and both the hoe and open book seem fairly self-explanatory.

Moz looks about like this:

It's the red one at the bottom of mini-Africa

Que bonita! At least that’s what Portugal thought, because it got all grabby McImperialist on the country for about 470 years, hence the national language (which I will be learning) is Portuguese.

The native Mozambicans weren’t so hot on colonial rule, however, and an independence movement started in the 1960’s that led to national independence on June 25, 1975. Good times!

Not such good times was the fifteen year civil war that immediately followed. From 1977-1992 the USSR-backed, Marxist FRELIMO government fought the anti-communist rebel group RENAMO, which was supported by Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa. Really bad times actually.

The two factions reached a peace accord in 1992, and Mozambique has seen twenty years of increasing political stability. It has also enjoyed impressive economic growth, thanks in part to major foreign aid.

Mozambique remains, however, one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with daunting health concerns, including high rates of HIV/AIDS.

The educational system was also pretty decimated during the civil war, and there is still a severe shortage of qualified teachers, which is where the Peace Corps comes in.

JFK proposes the idea of the Peace Corps at University of Michigan (click to read the story, do it!)

At the request of the Mozambican government, Peace Corps began a program in 1998 that now includes about 120 volunteers in English and Science education, as well as Health care projects, primarily focusing on HIV/AIDS.

And now I have been invited to join the fifteenth group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Mozambique! Silly them. As mentioned above, I head out September 29th, and I want to see all of you before I go (all of you that I like, at least). Once in Moz, I have three months of intense language/technical/health/etc. training before I am officially sworn in and banished to some hinterland to rustle up some random kids and corrupt them with Darwinism. Can’t wait.

And now for some apropos Walt, because I love him so –

Come my tan-faced children,

Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Avante!

Christopher

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