Staff Reflection: From Mozambique to Haiti
Hi, My name is Antonio Zua Companhia, from Beira, Mozambique. I work as the supervisor of exchange programs in Port- au-Prince in Haiti, and so far I have been in Haiti for four months.
From the time I got off from the airplane I started to feel the differences between where I come from and Haiti. It was hot and there were a lot of people trying to speak Creole with me, and all I could say was “bonjour,” and then keep quiet. One of my MCC colleagues picked me up and drove me to the MCC office, which is also the MCC guest house, where I stayed for a week and half.
Then I went to stay with a host family in Port-au-Prince for 3 weeks. During this time, I was still coming for my basic orientation at the office, which included more language learning, getting to socialize with colleagues, getting my documentation ready, and getting to know more about the partners that MCC works with. By the end of the day I was going home to my host family, where I would spend the rest of the day practicing my language skills, getting to knowing them, and getting to socialize with my host sisters and my host brothers.
In total my host family had 10 members, including me: 4 men and 6 women. I had hard time when I first got to the host family when I couldn’t pronounce the words and as fast as they speak. As time went on, I got to know my host family and I started to integrate myself better. I was considered the ‘fun boy’ at the house because I was always able to make them laugh by the way I was speaking Creole, I sounded really funny to them.
Staying with my host family made me learn a lot about how I handle my culture shock. I remember one day I sitting down and reflecting on the question: who should be the one to adapt to the culture of a new place? I ended up realizing that most of the time the visitor needs to adapt himself or herself to the culture and the environments of that place he or she is in. This understanding helped to reduce my culture shock with my host family and with local friends or colleagues.
After my 3 weeks with host family I had a chance to visit partners in Desarmes in the Artibonite, where I stayed with another host family for another three weeks.
I liked Desarmes because it’s a rural area that has a lot of agriculture. I had the privilege of visiting a lot of projects that are currently running in Desarmes, and also was able to know the real context of activities that are being done in different areas or zones. I also had time to practice my Creole.
And during these 3 weeks I spent time with my family every day after work, and I was able to make food from Mozambique for them. It was such a good time in Desarmes, I really enjoyed my time there with my family and people in the Desarmes office.