By Euridia Mavie (YES 2013-2014, Mozambique, placed by American Councils in Honolulu, HI)
I still remember my YES year as if it were yesterday. I remember the day I left Mozambique and the day I arrived in Hawaii. My time with my host family and at my American high school are all very vivid memories in my mind. One of the things I loved most about living in Hawaii was how loving and caring everyone was. The spirit of volunteerism was strong in my host family, and we did many volunteer activities together. One that stands out is when we prepared meals to give to the homeless. That gave me so much joy and made me want to do more for the world.
Upon returning to Mozambique, an issue I saw among many students – even from my own experience in high school – is that students don’t have the opportunity to practice the English skills they learn at school. Without practice, developing skills in another language is impossible. In 2021, I organized my first spelling bee with the support of volunteers from the Academic and Innovational Association Espinha Dorsal (AAIED). After the success of this first initiative, I applied for a YES Alumni Grant to expand and build on it.
The alumni grant-funded Mozambique Spelling Bee was organized for 100 students from seven secondary schools in Marracuene District. The students engaged in four elimination phases each Saturday from September 17 to November 19. The seven best students moved on to the final competition, where the winner was crowned. The goal was to provide an environment where students could learn and practice English in a fun and informal way to inspire them to continue developing their English skills. Another result of the project was the establishment of English clubs in each school to help meet this goal.
One alumna volunteer noted, “I really enjoyed seeing the knowledge sharing between students from different grades that generally don't have the opportunity to interact.”
A teacher from one of the participating schools commented, “The Mozambique Spelling Bee brought students together, and through the English Club, they were able to interact and strengthen their English and communication skills while also having fun in the process!”
I would love to take this project further, to more cities and have more people involved -to actually make it THE Mozambique Spelling Bee! I am looking for more opportunities to continue the project, and I’m happy to report the YES alumni network in Mozambique is supportive and ready to help expand the initiative.
As I worked on this project, I learned so much about myself. My skills were tested in many ways, and I grew a little more in becoming a better version of myself. It’s impossible to explain the joy that giving a helping hand brings to your heart.
I would like to close with a huge “thank you” to my team of YES alumni and volunteers for all the support in managing the project. Thank you to the sponsor of the YES program, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for your support of this project. I also want to extend my thanks to American Councils, AFS, the YES alumni community, the U.S. Embassy, and all the partners from the schools in Marracuene District. Thanks you all, we’re “wonderbees!”