By Nadine Rodrigues (YES 2015-2016, Mozambique, hosted by STS Foundation in Cleveland, TN)
I am Nadine Rodrigues, a YES alumna currently studying Public Relations at Catholic University of Mozambique. In 2015, I joined the YES community when I embarked on the amazing experience of traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States to live and experience American culture and teach Americans about my own culture. During my exchange year, I learned more than I ever imagined, gained leaderships skills, and realized that small actions can bring about change and make a huge impact in my community. For me, the YES program was life changing.
Mozambique is a Portuguese-speaking nation, and most communities also speak local dialects, which makes English a third or fourth language for most and, therefore, less of a priority. When I returned home after my exchange year, my fellow alumni and I observed that our community, Nampula, had no English teaching facilities; only students who had the resources to attend private schools outside of our community received English lessons. I felt the children in our community should have an opportunity to study English, so I applied for a YES alumni grant to implement a project that would equip them with English skills.
Through our project, MUKIVENXE (which means “Wake Me Up”), 30 underprivileged children from Nampula Provincial Children’s Nursery Home learned English through interactive instruction, videos, and giving presentations. Lessons took place every weekend from August to December 2017.
Many of the children we taught came from underprivileged families. As Mozambique develops, the need to learn English becomes more and more important; thus, equipping these children with English language skills at an early age will strengthen their passion to learn and become world citizens. English will help open doors for them as it has for me. Our team is thinking about applying for more funds to continue our work through an advanced English course for these 30 students.
Some quotes from our students:
“Thank you Mukivenxe project for making my life interesting and for teaching me English” – Esperança (student and beneficiary of MUKIVENXE Project)
“The Mukivenxe project is a blessing to us. We’ve never had a project like this implemented in our facility to help our kids. Most importantly, we’ve never seen young people so dedicated to helping others like the Mukivenxe team members. I can only be thankful for the opportunity.” – Adelina Pascoal (Director of the Nampula Provincial Children’s Nursery Home)
I thank everyone who helped make our project a reality, starting with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for funding the project; American Councils for International Education for selecting our project and administering the grant program; AFS for all the support they have given our team; YES Alumni Mozambique Association (AYAMO) team for all the hard work, dedication, and persistence to get this project implemented; the Nampula Provincial Children’s Nursery Home for providing their support and opening their doors; and last, but not least, I sincerely thank our students for showing so much eagerness to learn and love for our project.