Whew! Talk (or should I say write) about feeling down to the wire. Half-a-day and counting until my class is at the airport waiting for its departure. At this point, I should feel pretty good. I have officially finished packing; my vaccinations are all set; my automatic reply email and voicemail stating my “limited access” for the next two weeks are arranged; I started taking my Malaria pills on time; I had my last dinner with my family giving them all hotel/contact details; my ride to the airport confirmed a noon departure. Yet, despite the preparation, I’m feeling pretty anxious, a somewhat unfamiliar emotion I normally don’t experience prior to such a prepared trip. As I reflect on all I and my class have learned, though, since my first blog post only a month and a half ago – insights on Mozambique and its politics from our professors and from the country’s lead experts, survival Portuguese, basic filmmaking rules and techniques, to name a few – I realize why such nervousness exists. And, no, it’s not only there because of the day-long plane ride we have ahead of us. Just a couple of days from now, we are really going to put all of our lessons into practice. By doing so, we can reach both desired group and individual goals.
Beyond observing the overall themes of democracy and elections my whole class will study in Mozambique, my smaller group will focus on Religion & Culture. Our goals are mainly twofold: 1) to compare and contrast the major formal, organized religious practices in Mozambique to those in the states, and 2) to compare and contrast those formal, organized religions in Mozambique to those of indigenous and traditional religions simultaneously practiced there. To do so, we hope to attend religious ceremonies, speak to a variety of those who practice some form of religion (ranging from elders to the youth), and gain insights from spiritual leaders, or “healers,” who are willing to share their stories. Although my individual project is not yet concrete, I hope to find inspiration on how these religious practices influence Mozambican culture. Are the two completely intertwined? What differences are there when comparing practices in the City versus those in countryside? How similar are the people and their religions to those we experience at home? The questions are truly limitless. I think we’re all excited to have some of them answered soon.
In addition to asking these questions only others can answer for me, I also hope to acknowledge personal questions of my own. This trip will, to say the least, be a step out of my comfort zone. I want to fully appreciate that – to live in the moment, to try my best to connect with the locals, and to perhaps recognize or bring out my creative side that I know somewhere, deep down exists. Wish me luck – I’ll keep you updated on my progress!