Name: Aristides Francisco Dias
Age: 28 years old
Location: Milange, Zambezia, Mozambique
Languages: Portuguese, Lomwe, Chichewa, Chuwabo, Makhuwa
Everyday I go to the market to get some food or just go out to talk with people in the community. “Hey you [referring to me], come over here,” I hear as I am making my way to the market one day during my first week. A man stands up; after clearly dominating the conversation in his front yard, he greats me. “I see you walk by here everyday, and you have never come over here to introduce yourself”. The feeling of intrusion started to become overwhelming. However, all of the worry began to fade away as he welcomed me into his home and introduced me to his family.
What I didn’t know at the time was that Aires was going to turn out to be one of my closest friends in Milange. He has significantly helped me navigate throughout the city and understand different culture norms throughout Mozambique. With all that he has introduced me to, I would like to share a little bit of what he has to offer with the world. His answers to my questions represent one of just many of the wonderful people in Mozambique.
“What is your favorite food?”
“Rice and beans. I love it and can’t get enough of it”
“What is your favorite place in Mozambique”
“Quilemane. Have you been there yet? It is big and beautiful. I have lived there for thirteen years of my life and hope to go back one day.”
“What is your favorite type of music, artist, and song?”
“Hip-hop. Do you know hip-hop? I don’t know what the English word is for hip-hop. My favorite singer is from Angola. His name is KID MC. He sings Incorigivel. Do you know it? It is a good song you need to listen to it.
“How do Mozambicans feel about the United States?”
“Many Mozambicans idolize it. They see things on television and want to have them. They want to dress like the people in America and dream of going to America”
“Do you feel the same way?”
“America likes to agitate the world. As the owner of the world, they come into Africa and take all of our things; they take oil, diamonds, and other things. They take everything, cause a war in the process, and flee. They make all of the Mozambican kids want everything they see on the television; we become poor by buying all of these things. They are ruining out culture here by making people want something new.”
With this kind of answer I could not help thinking how much Aires would relate to Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart. This character despises Western influence and the direction that his culture has taken in light of British colonization. However unlike Okonkwo, Aires is willing to talk to the foreigner, the American, and he is willing to get to know about the culture that extends beyond Mozambique.
Peace Corps’ Second Goal in development is “to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served”. Although Aires has many ideas about American culture, American government, and Americans in general, I work everyday give him a little taste of America. I hope that through my encounters with him, he will have a slight change of heart on his opinions on Americans. Through these small relationships, Peace Corps Volunteers help to promote a better understanding that will hopefully spread throughout communities and throughout the world.
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