March 14, 2004 - Sacramento Bee: Peace Corps Volunteer Marta Hansen brings Mozambique home for Girl Scouts

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mozambique: Peace Corps Mozambique : The Peace Corps in Mozambique: March 14, 2004 - Sacramento Bee: Peace Corps Volunteer Marta Hansen brings Mozambique home for Girl Scouts

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Peace Corps Volunteer Marta Hansen brings Mozambique home for Girl Scouts

Peace Corps Volunteer Marta Hansen brings Mozambique home for Girl Scouts

Give peace a chance
A Corps volunteer brings Mozambique home for Girl Scouts.
By Walter Yost -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Sunday, March 14, 2004
A dozen suburban Sacramento Girl Scouts got a glimpse Tuesday of life in the impoverished African nation of Mozambique.

They learned a bit about the country's language, culture and recent history of civil wars. They even practiced a traditional Mozambican dance.

The second-graders from Green Oaks Elementary School in Orangevale also learned that people such as Marta Hansen have served as Peace Corps volunteers in countries such as Mozambique because they want to make a difference.

Hansen, a former Girl Scout, was among thousands of former Peace Corps volunteers who shared their overseas experiences with students and other audiences throughout the United States during Peace Corps Week, March 1-7.

The event marked the 43rd anniversary of the agency established by President John F. Kennedy. Since 1961, nearly 170,000 Americans have volunteered with the Peace Corps in 137 countries.

Hansen, who spoke to several local Girl Scout troops this month, said she wasn't trying to recruit young people for the Peace Corps.

"I just like the idea of introducing them to different cultures," she said.

Based on the reception she received from Troop 412 at Green Oaks School, she succeeded on several fronts.

Nearly all the Girl Scouts said they would be interested in volunteering with the Peace Corps some day but for different reasons.

"You get to learn different languages," Cara Benson said.

"I'd want to join to see how other people live," Katelyn Putman said.

"I care a lot about people, and there are a lot of poor people in Africa," Rachel Cooperman said.

Hansen, who served two years in Mozambique teaching high school biology, described to the Scouts what a typical day is like for girls in the province of Manica, where she worked.

"Girls sleep on the floor on a mat," Hansen said. And because most homes don't have showers, she explained, they have to bathe in the river.

In the morning, girls fix themselves corn porridge and then get dressed for school, usually donning a uniform. After school, Hansen said, they have plenty of chores, including carrying water from the river to their homes.

"It's easier to carry water on your head than by hand," Hansen said of a practice still common among some African women.

Hansen, 29, wore a traditional dress from Mozambique, along with a head cover, for her presentation at Green Oaks School.

She also brought along a number of colorful Mozambican skirts, which the girls wrapped around themselves while Hansen demonstrated a traditional native dance.

Hansen, who was born in Orangevale, said joining the Peace Corps was something she always wanted to do.

"The Peace Corps is about service, not just throwing money at people," Hansen said of the agency's efforts to improve the lives of people around the world.

She described her initial experience in Portuguese-speaking Mozambique as "overwhelming." She spent her first three months living with a host family while she acquired a better grasp of the language.

Although Hansen recommended service in the Peace Corps to others, she said, "You definitely have to be flexible. You never know what to expect."

Dennis McMahon, a spokesman for the Peace Corps regional office in San Francisco, said many agency employees became interested in the Peace Corps because retired volunteers like Hansen once spoke to their class in school.

Hansen completed her Peace Corps service in November and is living in Orangevale temporarily while deciding on a career to pursue.

About the Writer

The Bee's Walter Yost can be reached at (916) 608-7449 or

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Story Source: Sacramento Bee

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Mozambique; Third Goal; World Wise Schools



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