Profile: Jill Cadreau (Nishinabe Chippewa Tribe)
My family was very supportive of my decision to go to Africa for two years, but I had mixed reactions from the Native community. Some people thought it was an awesome idea and others didn’t understand why I was going to leave my Native community, teachings, songs, and traditions for two years.
During my pre-service training, I did a presentation on the Native uses of traditional medicines so that Americans and Mozambicans could learn about it. I brought in my eagle feather, sage, tobacco, and sweetgrass and talked about the four sacred medicines and the importance of eagle feathers. I also talked about when a woman is on her moon time. A Peace Corps staff member translated this all into Portuguese so that the language teachers could understand it. I talked about how I sometimes put tobacco or cedar by my doors and windows for protection; some Mozambican cultures also put medicines by their doors to protect against evil spirits. I also talked about traditional healers, which is somewhat similar to the witch doctors here. Giving that presentation was the highlight of training for me. I was able to share my Nishinabe culture with other Americans who probably had never met a Native American before in the States. Also, we all learned that even though America and Mozambique have many differences, there are also similarities and that we are all just human.
As a Volunteer, I teach English to over 300 students and I try to incorporate HIV education into my lessons. During my first trimester, I mainly focused on teaching basic sentence structures; during the next trimester, I plan to focus more on HIV issues, such as how the virus works, prevention, testing, and support groups.
I also incorporate Native American awareness and American diversity into my lesson plans. We have a part in the curriculum where the students discuss traditional medicines used in Mozambique, and I plan to bring in sage and sweetgrass to show some Nishinabe medicines that I use. I brought in a beaded dream catcher, sweetgrass, and pictures of the big drum and talked about all of it. I drew similarities between the Native people in the States and Mozambique. Then, I showed the students how to do a Round Dance and an Intertribal dance. It was so much fun! I also taught them how to say hello in Ojibwe. About a week later, I was walking back to my host family’s house and this student yells out, "Aanii, Teacher Jill!" Moments like that make me really proud to be here in Mozambique.
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