Yesterday morning, the two of us, Caroline and Denise, arrived in Mauritius to start the preparations for the two months of work ahead of us. Vedant came to pick us up at the airport. We were glad to arrive and the island’s stunning beauty had us forget about the arduous two day journey and countless hours on the plane to get here. Driving to our accommodation in Roches Noirs, we wound though fields upon fields of sugar cane, tea, mango, papaya and pineapple groves. We passed three different mountain ranges in the distance; Mauritius only has three. From the airport we gradually inclined toward the middle of the island, from there we declined until we reached the northeastern point. The weather changed dramatically reflecting on our altitude. It was rainy at the airport but suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere it became sunny and dry as we approached the ocean.
As soon as we arrived in Roches Noire, we left once again to run several errands; buying office supplies and groceries in Grand Baie, and setting up internet at the house. Due to lack of sleep from our long flight we both were somewhat dazed and not in what one would call a lucid state. We slept accordingly well the following night. We still have not found time to go look at the nearby beaches since we have been working and preparing for the programs. In two days our fellows will be arriving and we are excited to have the entire group here. We will now head out to the market place. Please check back for future updates.
In the months leading up to our arrival in Mauritius this summer, the Fellows have been exchanging letters with students at Etoile de Mer and Ecole de Fatima. Organized by Julia Bryzgalina, this Penpal program allows us to get to know the students on a more personal level before we begin to work in the schools and also helps them practice their English. All of the kids seem extremely excited to have this regular correspondence with the Fellows and to share their lives with us in their own words. While the older kids from Ecole de Fatima write about their families, favorite pastimes, and future aspirations, some of the younger kids send vibrant pictures that capture beautiful Mauritian scenes. Their letters give us a real feel for their day-to-day experience; many of the kids describe spending time at the beach and playing soccer, but also the programs they are enrolled in at school. Girls from Ecole de Fatima sometimes talk about the training they receive to be cooks and salon technicians, while the boys often talk about their desire to be mechanics or to find jobs in local hotels. Many already seem to have their professional goals clearly defined, and we’re looking forward to helping the kids attain the skills to meet those goals while at the same time making them aware of a wider array of possibilities.