When I first arrived in Toliara, I knew no one. Yet, one morning as the sun started to peak above the horizon a man greeted me while I was running at the local track. We exchanged pleasantries, and he learned that I know English. He immediately told me that his daughter studies English; he would love if we could practice speaking together. Still a bit overwhelmed by my recent move to Toliara, I never arranged to meet with the man’s daughter. Yet, each morning he saw me at the track, he would remind me that I should speak with his daughter. Eventually he brought his daughter to the track with him and introduced us himself. We chatted for a short time on the bleachers, and I thought our relationship might end there. Thankfully, her father had other intentions. He asked if I could give his daughter my phone number. That way we could continue to practice English together. Ravo has used that number throughout the year. I have been invited to Sunday worship and lunch with her family, New Year’s parties, walks through town, and hip-hop dance competitions. She has shown me friendship and introduced me to many people and sites of Toliara. Her father introduced her to me, and now I introduce her to you.
Name: ANDRIAMIANDRISOA Ravo Nomenjanahary
Birthday: March 21, 1999
Family: We are from the highlands but I grew up in Toliara. I have 2 brothers and one sister. We [my siblings and parents] live with our uncle and grandmother. My father is Rene, and my mother is Hery... They are kind [and] gentle. My father is outgoing; He likes speaking with everyone. My mother is contrary. She is not used to meeting people. She is a person who is used to staying at home… At home, we speak the French language [in order] to be adapted to the international language.
Education: Ravo studies both philosophy and management at universities in Toliara.
Why did you learn English?: Though Ravo likes English now, she did not always enjoy English. Time by time, I have realized that [the English] language can help me in my life. It is an international language. Everything you search on the internet [is] in English. I started learning English after my bac degree [equivalent to a high school diploma] in November 2014. Two weeks later I was in [tour]guide training. It was very helpful to know the [English] language.
Hobbies: My hobbies are reading books and then singing. I like romantic books especially from the Harlequin collection. I love singing every English song - English and French. Ravo particularly likes Westlife songs.
Favorite Place in Madagascar: Maybe Diego. I like the landscape. I like the beach [and] the sea. I asked Ravo where she would like to live since her family is from the highlands and she enjoyed her trip to Diego. I think it’s better for me to stay here [in Toliara]. It is a calm city - not really in a rush [all the] time like in the capital.
Three wishes: I would like to learn another language - Spanish maybe or Portuguese and Italian. One wish is also to make a visit abroad - even just one time in my life. I would like to go in an American country. I wish that my family would know English more than I know it.
How would you describe Madagascar?: Madagascar has very good landscapes. There are some places that should be visited by foreigners - even [by] the people here. The problem - the most important problem here is the poverty. We don’t have enough [money] to spend on a visit. Because even… what we earn is not enough [money] to eat. So then for making travel - it’s a little bit impossible for us. Madagascar has outgoing people. They know how to receive guests. Even if they [Malagasy] are a little afraid of them [foreigners]. They can be opened to them when the foreigners ask for something.