Slice of Life: Determination is my language

Our education system in Mozambique only allows us to learn basic English. So when I started working at my current job, I found myself in very difficult situations, because all the work documents were in English and my English was very, very poor.

I then went to an English school here in Maputo for three months, but didn’t learn much. There, I met a young woman and we decided to speak only in English to each other, not Portuguese. I was very afraid to speak English, but with her all the fear disappeared.

But we realised it wasn’t enough, so we went to Johannesburg and enrolled for an English course. I got a little money from work to do it, but I had to use my little salary at the time to pay for the rest, like accommodation and food, you know?

When we came back home, I was like … different. So, so different. Even me, I didn’t recognise myself. I was speaking English as I am speaking to you now.

I was applying for a master’s degree at the time and asked one of my bosses to write me a letter of recommendation. She wrote how she admired how I am a person who is able to learn new things and how impressed she was with how quickly I learnt English.

A while ago, I was considering resigning from my job, but then I remembered that letter. I opened it up on my computer, read it, printed it out and stuck it to my mirror at home. One year later, that letter is still on my mirror. I keep it there because it wakes me up. It makes me remember that I can improve my skills; that I can do whatever I set my mind to. — Aster Sitoe, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian

Carl Collison
Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa.


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