Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Back Home

Well, it has been a few weeks since I returned from South Africa and Mozambique. After catching up a little bit with school, going to Chicago for the Federal Reserve Challenge, and taking a few midterms, I think I can finally reflect on my incredible experiences.

First, the opportunity to interview a former president of any country is something that is pretty unique. Former President Chissano's interview regarding his country's progress towards democracy is something that not too many people can say that they did. And I am very honored to have been a part of the experience.

The presidential election observing was the most profound when I was able to interview voters while they were waiting in line. The lines were pretty long and it was warm, but everybody was in order and patient. The most significant thing was that everybody that I spoke to was proud of their country's movement toward democracy and multi-party elections, but many also expressed hope for something better in the future. They recognized that the 2009 elections were not necessarily the best model, but they realized this flaw. The notion that the younger generation is pushing for MDM and the older generation is pushing for Frelimo may be true, but from my interviews, I got the message that Frelimo is preferred because people are afraid of change. They are nervous about a completely new party coming into office without having any experience. Well, of course they don't have experience...because the ruling party will go out of its way (plaster the city with Guebuza posters, fly in helicopters, spend incredible amounts of money on their campaign) in order to prevent any other party from having any experience.

What really made me realize the impact of Frelimo in Mozambique is the fact that everybody was censoring what they were saying about Frelimo when they were talking to us. Ministry officials even refused to talk to know, probably because they will lose their jobs if anybody high in office heard about it. I wonder if there are any Mozambican "Will Ferrells" doing SNL sketches mocking President Guebuza? Probably not...

I truly hope that Mozambique is able to prosper and let their people have their say in government and have the ability to speak freely in their country. After seeing the election results and the breakdown of representatives within each of the provinces, I am not too sure how this is going to happen, but there is always hope.

So, what did I bring back??? Certainly, not a lot of souvenirs because 1) My luggage couldn't handle a 35 pound wood carving of a hippopotamus 2) I am a horrible shopper/barterer. (Michelle snatched about 10 canvas paintings when I only got 3....for the same price).
I did bring back some pretty cool things though. First would be some very neat friends. Meeting people and sharing adventures with them has formed a very quick bond between all of us and it is pretty exciting. As Sumate said on the first day we met, "we're all family". The second thing that I gained was inspiration and an increased confirmation of what I want to do with my life after medical school. I know that has always been a calling for me to serve others, but I was unsure of where I was supposed to go. The more I listen to the clues though, I have a greater sense of where that "where" is supposed to be.

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