Wednesday, April 11, 2012


So, it’s all over. It’s been a challenging but beautiful 27-month ride indeed. I have had trouble writing here for various reasons. Sometimes I find myself completely exhausted, and I find it near impossible to put those feelings into writing. But after two years of staying in rural Zambia, the strongest feeling I have is that of gratitude. I have complete gratefulness to this beautiful country and its citizens and complete gratefulness to my own country and its citizens- for everyone’s support both within Zambia and from America.

Of course I have faced many challenges. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to join Peace Corps, to challenge myself in ways that weren’t imaginable. Well, challenges there were. Amongst them being homesickness lasting for weeks- homesickness that made my insides twist and my soul drip with longing for family, friends, and home cooking; indescribable homesickness where I would feel physically nauseous. No one could help relieve it, not even Miss Bear, my childhood stuffed animal that I would squeeze in desperation for some sort of familiar feeling. There was the challenge of feeling completely drained, both physically and emotionally. At times, I felt like there was no way I would physically be able to walk another step in the scorching heat knowing that, even with 70 proof sunscreen, I would burn to blisters. At times, I felt like there was no way I could handle another child begging, “Naumvwa nzala,” (I’m hungry) at my doorstep, because these are children I love and cherish and teach, and I just wanted to feed them the same, nutritious meals that I was craving from home. There were times when I just wanted to scream because I had been waiting for a hitch for hours, and I miss driving, and I didn’t want to get on another canter truck and burn some more, and wait 4 more hours for another ride just to go another 20k to do the same thing over again. I wanted to scream when someone wasn’t understanding my Kikaaonde because my Northeast, American accent is just too rigid and not fluid, and I just wanted to speak English fast and get my point across, but I couldn’t, so there I was, stuck, dumbfounded, griping about what to do next. Another challenge faced and thus far conquered, were illnesses that I have encountered here in Zambia- malaria twice: where I just wanted a comfy couch, iced water and family by my side, appendicitis: where I had to fly on a plane with extreme abdominal pain without knowing where I was going or what I was doing or what was wrong with me, the infamous spider embedded just under my right eyebrow: laying her eggs comfortably only to form a boil above my eye, and many other bouts of parasital infections: where I had to run to my pit latrine and hope that no one was around to watch me barf up the nshima dinner I had just ate with my host family. Yes, there were challenges. But, I say “thank you” to these challenges. Thank you for presenting me with daily obstacles, for granting me the experience of challenges to help me grow and become stronger and help me feel appreciative of the life I lead and the loving people that surround me. Because even though I faced challenges, I feel like a more fulfilled person because of them. I feel like I can take on the world and feel confidant in myself because of the challenges this experience has presented me.

That being said, first, I could never have overcome those challenges without the support of Zambians. Once again, I feel so grateful to have been placed in such a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful country; a country whose people are appreciative of Peace Corps work; a village with many hard-working women and farmers and future business leaders; a school whose staff taught me more about patience and humor than I have ever known; a host family who provided me with nothing but laughter, hugs, appreciation, and motivation to keep working and keep teaching. Thank you to my neighborhood children who are striving to learn and read and who always could strike a smile on my face. Thank you to Kabuchimba Women’s Group, whose aspirations to make their community a better place to live are seen in their old, wise wrinkles and durable hands. You have instilled in me the gift of hope for the future, the most valuable remembrance of them all. You all hold a special place in my heart, a place where I can go to when I miss Zambia; when I miss the youthful countenances of Esther, Judy, Vera and Stanley; when I miss the bellowing, welcome greetings from various farmers along my path home; when I miss the deep, overwhelming sunsets and engulfing sounds of Mutanda falls; when I miss Ba Maama’s joyous, gap-toothed smile and the way her eyes light up when she sees me reading to her grandchildren. Never have I felt threatened in any way in Zambia. I have been picked up on hitches and welcomed into homes freely and safely numerous times. Thank you to Zambians for being curious and happy and enthusiastic. Stay united and proud and free. I love you and thank you for hosting me in your blissful country.

Along with graciousness for wonderful Zambians, I am also more than thankful for support from home. I also could not have faced these challenges without you. Thank you, Americans. Thank you for putting your faith in Peace Corps Volunteers to represent America well. Thank you for paying your taxes, which has granted me an experience that could never be replaced. You have provided me with self-growth, independence and an inner peace that I had yet to experience before my Peace Corps service in Zambia, a sense of gratitude to give a little more than I take. You provided my community with a representation of America; me, someone who most can now call their friend, teacher, tutor and sister. A special thanks to my family and friends, for endless packages with pieces of home and letters, for facebook status responses, for weekly phone calls, and for updating me about America and the events that continue to happen while I’m not there; a weird, egotistical realization I had to come to terms with since being here. What I miss most about America is you. This life-changing experience, as cliché as that sounds, would not have been made possible without your support of Peace Corps, an organization I will continue to cherish and support because of its grassroots, people-to-people exchange of culture and knowledge. Hopefully, in turn, I will provide America with a new perspective on life in a developing country, and hopefully I am better prepared for the workforce of America, making our country a little better as well.

And last but definitely not least, thank you to the Peace Corps support system. To my closest Peace Corps friends, we went through the challenges together. Although we were living villages apart, we were all a part of this challenging yet rewarding experience together; experiencing each other’s successes and “dark places” and supporting each other through all of it. I have made the best of friends here. You all are creative, motivated, and intelligent, and you, just like Zambia, have challenged every piece of me. I appreciate that more than you may ever know. Saying goodbye to you will be just, if not harder, then saying goodbye to my host family, village and Zambia. Thank you for being there for me. We have a lifelong connection that I will never forget and always treasure.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's been too long

I know, I know. It has been too long since I have posted a blog. I have been busy with teaching, Peace Corps conferences, and, yes, a little vacation time. To make up for lost time I am posting two entries. I miss everyone at home so much, and I am thinking of everyone always. I am happy here and trying to enjoy these next 11 months as much as possible :)

Tujitu pamo - 5/25/2011 journal entry

I stand on the side of one of the few tarred roads in Zambia inhaling dust and looking down at my worn-in attire. I try to flag down any vehicle that passes myself and my two friends by waving my arm up and down with desperation. We are almost back in Solwezi after hitchhiking from Lusaka for the past seven hours. We are tired, hungry and thirsty. The sun is starting to set and we are holding on to hopes of making it back to town by dark. Only 60 more kilometers to go. Please pick us up. After a couple of vehicles pass and a half an hour later, a large, white canter truck pulls over screeching to a halt. My friend, Cassie, another Peace Corps Volunteer, and I run to the left-hand passenger side and negotiate a price. We budge the driver down to five pin each, approximately one dollar, and run to scoop our belongings and hoist ourselves up in the bed with our other friend, Adam, and several Zambian women, men, children, and chickens. The sun is almost sleeping now, and the wind is starting to whistle, taunting us to put on our fleece jackets. It's the start of cold season, but the daylight heat tricks us in to thinking it were summer. We greet other passengers in KiKaonde and scooch close together to keep warm. I notice a young girl, maybe three or four years old, who is wearing nothing but a light cotton, ripped dress. Her skinny arms are crossed over her petite body, and her teeth are chattering pleading for someone to please warm her up. Now, I am using my fleece as a blanket, and I am warmed by my hooded sweatshirt. I reach across the bed of the crickety truck and nudge her with the sleeve of my jacket. "Here, take this," I urge her. Her big, brown eyes look confused and she does not know how to react to this white lady. Her mother elbows her with a warm smile, "Take it." She then helps her daughter wrap the over-sized fleece jacket around her tightly. She mouths, "Thank you," to me with sincere appreciation. A larger woman sitting close to the girl flashes me a hearty smile and laughs with gratitude. I then notice the girl's mother is also shivering, her baby sleeping on her back wrapped in a chitenge her only warmth. I pull a scarf out of my cluttered purse and toss it to the mother. "You can use this," I direct her. Her face lights up. She wraps herself and her baby as best as she can with the scarf and again mouths, "Thank you," to me. Other passengers smile at me as if they are grateful for taking care of their community members. I smile back and return to reading my book, the words jumping off the page because of the pot-holed road. A few sentences later, I hear a man sitting across from me on the edge of the truck chuckle lightly. I look up at him and he looks directly in my eyes and declares, "America, Zambia, one people." "Tujitu pamo," I return with a KiKaonde phrase meaning, "We are just the same." He chuckles some more, slightly shocked that I know a bit of local language. He smiles jubilantly and agrees with me.
These few moments on the canter rekindled nostalgia of reading short stories from the book, "Random Acts of Kindness," which laid on my dad's coffee table in his ranch living room while I was growing up. I used to pick up the book out of boredom, but somehow the message of the book has stayed with me throughout the years. I may never see those people from the canter again, but we may be the only Americans they have or will ever encounter. Although lending my jacket and scarf to keep a few people warm is such an effortless act, it is an act they will remember an American doing. It is a random act of kindness.
My Uncle Dave embraced me just nights before I left for Zambia 15 months ago. He squeezed my left shoulder with his bear-like might, pointed his calloused finger at me, looked me in the eye and said, "Kat, while you are over there, you are representing all of us. You are representing our family, and you are representing America." That has resonated through me over the past year in many instances like that of the canter truck. Through these instances I hope that I have and continue to represent America well through small acts of kindness. Through these acts I have come to the conclusion that my few short words exchanged with the man on the canter represent a bigger meaning to my service here in Zambia. Tujitupamo. We are just the same. Here I am in a different country, on a different continent, living amongst a different culture with different food, housing and daily routine. Yet, it's not that different at all. We, as one people, are the same. Culture does not define our entirety. Despite different races, ethnicities, educations and religious views, we share the mere fact that we are all human. We have the ability to share humor and emotions. We need sleep and we need to eat. We care for the elderly, sick and young. We want brighter futures for our countries and our children. We have goals, values and traditions. Although they may be completely different, we have the minds to try and understand each other and, because of that, we are able to bond and form strong friendships. And, we all certainly appreciate random acts of kindness. I see my mother in some of the female teachers, working hard to help their students succeed. I see my father in the farmers' eyes, determined to run a successful business. I see my grandmothers in the strong women of the women's group I work with who are proud of their families and who want the best for their grandchildren. I see my cousins, aunts and uncles all around me in my neighbor's love for family unity. From the outside looking in, Americans and Zambians have nothing in common, but from my mud hut doorway (or the back of a canter truck) we are just the same. Tujitu pamo.

A Garden of Survival- 5/26/2011 A shorter entry

I am sitting in my host family's garden. I am balancing myself on a cracked, dirty jerry can that is about to bust. The bold sun is slowly melting into the dried out corn stalks. I'm not used to a garden like the one I am sitting in. It's a garden of survival not aesthetics. There are no bird baths or feeders, watering cans, hoses, adirondack chairs, or bright flowers to decorate the earth. The garden is small. It consists of five beds soon to grow rape. My host sister is rhythmically pounding the dark soil with her hoe to clear more room to plant carrots and onions. Beads of sweat compile on her shimmering black forehead. Her hair is wrapped in a mustard and black cloth. Her arm muscles protrude vividly with every wham of the hoe. Her young daughters help her by collecting water from a nearby spring and sprinkle the beds, feeding the thirsty seeds. The mud squishes in between their toes as they playfully douse the ground singing as they go. My sister has been up since 6 AM. She has already been to her maize field, harvesting all the cobs she can gather. After she is finished hoeing this garden, she will carry a huge sack of kernels down to the hammer mill ( a large machine that pounds the kernels into a flour-like substance to make nshima). She now continues to hoe without any break except for spitting on her hands to resist wood burns and slivers from the neck of the hoe. She announces she is tired but she keeps working without any hesitation. Her day today, her day every day, is motivated by her thirst survival. For her, farming is a continuous effort. There are no vacations from feeding her family.
In America, we are used to fast living. Fast transport, fast meetings, fast food, fast life. We can drink tap water and order a Big Mac in the time it takes my sister to throw her hoe ten times. Sitting here in this garden, I have come to the realization that I don't think I could survive if I had to be completely self-sustainable. I am a product of American culture, and my American-self does not have the knowledge, motivation, or strength to work as my sister does. I also realize, while watching my sister continue to work, that I have never worked a day in my life. I know absolutely nothing about hard work. I can't fathom working from sunrise to sunset, in intense heat, without being paid anything, just to barely feed a small family and nothing more. I have a respect for my host sister that will never fade away. Every time I pop a chicken nugget in my mouth or crack open a bottled water, I will forever think of her with the utmost respect and admiration.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

nostalgia...but easily forgotten

"Do you miss home?" is the most frequent question I am asked from people in America. Truthfully, I have been missing home a lot lately. I am not quite sure why lately I have become slightly home sick. Maybe it's because it has been almost ten months since I have seen any family or friends from home. Another contributing factor could be that I haven't been able to speak to any friends from home. I miss being able to pick up the phone at any minute and call them. I miss laughing with them until my stomach has had a satisfying abdominal workout. I miss shopping until my legs hurt with my mother and grandmother followed by dinner on the ocean. I miss going to my dad's for a wonderful home-cooked meal and a trip to the Puritan afterwards for a delicious ice cream cone, guaranteed to bump into a few people we know. I miss driving terribly. I love long car rides with the windows rolled down, good tunes playing. I miss iced coffee from Dunks. I miss McDonald's two cheeseburger meals with sweet and sour sauce. I miss Backroom chicken tenders. I miss air condition. I miss going to the movies, and I miss trashy television and magazines. I miss knowing every new song on the radio. It's true, I think of all of these things almost daily. I think about what all of my friends are doing at home. I envision them going out in Boston dressed in the latest fashion trends. I envision my family sitting down for shepards pie. I envision my aunts, uncles and cousins getting together for another baby shower or lake get-together. All of this, all of the food, all of the driving and music blasting... I miss everything dreadfully. Then, I look in front of me into my hut doorway as I am writing, and I see Zambian children smiling in at me doing something so unconventional to them- writing. They stare with curious eyes. They tap their bare feet to my American music. Here they sit at my stoop staring at me, their mazoungu sister, doing nothing, and they are content. Looking at them while missing home, I am acutely aware of why I am here. It doesn't take much for me to believe that I am needed here, but when I think of home I find that I have to remind myself of these reasons often to reassure myself that my time here is worthwhile.
I am especially reminded that my time here is valuable through the children. Everyday hoards of children stop by my hut to read and look at the pictures in the books that I have. They beg me to read to them, flashing the books in front of my face, "Ba Kathy, Ba Kathy, tangai, tangai!" They love learning letter sounds and matching the funny pictures with the odd English words. I read to them almost daily as they gather, their eyes peering just over my knees, grappling to see the pictures. I watch them day by day flourishing with new vocabulary words. The joy of informal teaching on the stoop of my mud hut jostles the home-sickness out of my body. Through the neighborhood children's smiles, clapping, eagerness to learn and thankfulness, I am easily reminded why I joined Peace Corps in the first place.
It's not just the young children that have given me vindication for being here. I exert most of my energy teaching grade eight and nine English and Science. I was apprehensive to start teaching in September. Never having officially taught before, I was anxious. I was also worried about the students not understanding my dubious accent. The anxiousness lasted about three days. The students have an extreme appreciation for me, thanking me daily for my time and even dropping by my hut to make sure I am comfortable in this unknown place. They are curious about me and my life in America. They relish in talking about the differences in culture between Zambia and America. They are thrilled to start a pen pal program. Ironically, talking about home with my students eases my nostalgia, and I feel supported and welcomed by my students. Just like the neighborhood children, their thirst for knowledge awakens my soul and solidifies my happiness with my life here in Mutanda.
My life here in Mutanda has also illuminated me in finding joy in adult education. I encounter many adults through my daily routine who want to join me on my reed mat to learn how to read or how to say something new in English. These wants were expressed so heavily throughout my neighborhood, that together we started a women's literacy club which meets twice per week. The women are overwhelmingly gracious of this free education that empowers them to pass their knowledge on to their children. Their eyes stare at me intensely as they repeat the English words. They embrace their limited vocabularies and laugh at their mistakes. They encourage each other and help each other with the slow process of learning English as a second language. I am enlightened by their enthusiasm to expand their knowledge even in their adult years.
Along with the newly formed literacy club, I meet with the Kabuchimba Women's Group to help them with the start-up of their income-generating project of sewing school uniforms to vulnerable children. All of these women gleam with passion and strength; passion for their language, culture and families. They believe in promising futures for their children and they are fervent to educate themselves to serve as competent role models for them. My conversations with them are interesting and humorous, ranging from knitting to politics to culture to village gossip. Although conversation is limited because of language barriers, these conversations grant me time to really understand the community. I am always filled with elation after a women's group meeting or casual chat with my host sisters or neighbors.
All of these people, these groups of community members, are constantly giving me more than enough reason to be here. Enough reason to depress all feelings of yearning for home and feel comfortable in my bliss here in the village. The people of Mutanda don't realize that while I am teaching them, they are teaching me in return, which, selfishly speaking, is the best motive for living here for the next 16 months. They are opening my outlook on life in more ways then I could have imagined instilling in me a sense of strength, appreciation for simplicity, and gratefulness. As I write this last paragraph, I am being nudged by Kaunda, my nightly neighborhood 8-year-old visitor, to read her a story. I suppose the McDonald's cheeseburger can wait and my nostalgia for home will be stifled once more.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Becoming a Real Zambian Woman Through My Hands...

Taken from a journal entry 05/10/2010
I sit in the blistering, afternoon sun drowning my linen skirts and button-up collared shirts in a big bucket of blue, soapy water, the soap stinging my roughed-up fingertips. I continue to scrub on clothes over my raw knuckles, breaking the skin as I wash. Blisters cover my skin from shucking hardened corn cobs with my family yesterday. The neighborhood children enthusiastically demonstrated how to efficiently pop the wax-like kernels off the cob which will then be taken by bike in a large, straw sack down to the hammer-mill to be magically turned into mealie meal and then whisked into boiling nshima. My fingertips are now calloused like that of an amateur guitarist.
The tops of my fingers are hardened, some of them scabbing, from the times I have been daring enough to grab the steaming pot off the firey charcoals, attempting to emulate my Zambian sisters who do this with relaxed skill. The charcoals have won the battle every attempt, and my fingers have taken the brunt of the war. The insides of my palms are ripping like stitches on a beaten baseball. My stitch-like scratches are outcomes from my struggle with the well. I lower the empty, yellow jerrycan down the dark, mysterious hole into the ground, staring into my own reflection as it lowers. I try to dunk the bucket under the water as deep as possible to minimize the amount of time I have to stare at my wrinkling reflection. I pull the coarse rope up with extreme might using every weak muscle in my scrawny arms. The rope reminds me of summertime at Horace Lake, the rope swing usually leaving burns on me and my cousins' smooth, white hands. My hand burns now are not outcomes from a fun, entertaining, summer activity like that of the Horace Lake rope swing, but more an outcome of survival; fetching the water so I can cook, drink and perhaps bathe before the sun goes down. After about six trials with the bucket, I have two large jerrycans filled to the brim to carry on my short walk home. I have yet to master carrying water on my head. My sister, Ba Rodrina, stands in front of her hut, with her hand on the hip of her tall, slender body analyzing my baby steps with her large, curious eyes, and encourages me, "You will get used, Ba Katherine." I laugh and reply short-winded, "Hopefully, Ba Rodrina, hopefully." Her curious eyes continued to stare at my gripping hands. Her hands don't look as mine do. They are broken in from hard work, soap scrubbing, and heart-felt cooking.
The hands of Zambian women are tough, symbolic of their dedication to family values. Through loads of handwashing, trials of rope-pulling, and the mastered art of handling fuming pots. My hands may never get used to the ways of a Zambian woman, but I will callous them until they look like that of a pro-guitarist.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Simple Life: Not to get confused with Paris Hilton's "reality" television show...

First off, I love reading everyone's comments. Internet access is minimal, and when I do get the chance to post, nothing makes me happier than reading everyone's supportive words. I miss and love you all, and I hope to continue to blog about once a month.

Written on 4/14/2010, taken from a journal entry:
There is something gratifying about living a simple life. Before leaving for Zambia, I was anxious about not having access to everyday amenities that I nearly depend on. I was anxious about switching from my dependence on materialistic living to mainly depending on Mother Nature to provide me with security. During my two month stay here in Zambia, that anxiousness has bloomed into a deep appreciation for life.
Here in Zambia, living a simple life starts when the sun rises in the morning when the roosters crow. No ring tone alarm clock. Shortly after I awake, I step outside to the rising sun atop the overabundance of cornstalks. I head to my straw bathing shelter that sits right behind my mud hut while stretching, my movements in sync with the sounds off my Ba Maama sweeping the dusty ground. I greet a few neighbors, usually Ba Charity who carries a large jerrycan of water set on her head. The bath water in my bucket is usually steaming heat thanks to my gracious host mother. No faucets. No hot and cold switch. My routine bafa is something I look forward to. The first cup of water I pour over my head, while listening to the wind howl makes the cornstalks rustle and play amongst themselves, always rejuvenates my mind. After about 15 cups of water plunged over my body, I return back to my quaint hut to dress with the sun's rays. I brush my hair and pin back my grown out bangs. No hair dryer. No straightener. No makeup. One really small mirror to make sure my hair is somewhat neat. No full length mirror. I happily eat my peanut butter and jelly roll with my hot cup of tea upon my door step on the clay ground and greet many more friendly villagers and schools of children dressed in navy, worn-in uniforms. No backpacks. No packed lunches. Just smiles. I carry my breakfast tray back to Ba Maama's hut. "Odi, Ba Maama," I call. "Kalibou," she welcomes me to come in. I depart for language lesson that takes place on the next compound over. No car. No music. Just walking. And more greetings, smiles and hugs from local children. KiKaonde lessons consist of simple conversation with two other volunteers and our language instructor, Ba Golden, a jolly, relaxed, middle-aged native Zambian who is more patient than imaginable and whose kindness can be seen from a great distance. No textbooks. No desks. Just conversation and lots of questions. After 4 brain-busting hours, it's already lunchtime. Adam and me follow the path home. The sun is now beating on our mazoungu skin. We sit upon our door stoops under the shade from our straw roof. Adam playfully strums his guitar as our host brother, Alex age 11, and our host sister, Blessing age 7, brush up against out sides and repeat our English choruses often giggling at our unfamiliar accents. We are then warmed with Ba Maama's traditional, delicious homemade cooking. Always nshima, ground maize mixed with water that forms a hard porridge-like substance. Nshima is rolled with the right hand into small balls and used as an eating utensil. It is always served with a relish which could be pumpkin leaves, rape, cabbage and a protein of eggs, soya pieces, fish, chicken, beans or sausage. My stomach growls for the nshima. No mayo. No mustard. No cheese. No spoons. No knives. No forks. Just hands. And a wonderful, Zambian woman who cooks over an open fire to prepare us a scrumptious, filling meal. After 2 lumps of nshima and a few handfuls of relish, we leave for our training session to meet with other education volunteers and trainers. After a few hours of learning about the Zambian education system and perhaps observing a few classroom observations, we all head back to our home stay families, some of us depart on bike, some on foot. Adam and I repeat our lunch routine except now the sun is setting beautifully and the cool breeze tickles my ankles beneath my long skirt. No tv dinners. No nightly solicitation phone calls. No oven. No dishwasher. Just more nshima. More Nyanja singing. More dancing. More laughs. More hugs. More acoustic guitar. The stars in the sky are so clear that they look reachable and life here is beautiful.
As I crawl onto my floor mattress, under my mosquito net as the candle lights my way, I feel completely satisfied. I will be on my own, without my loving host family, in about a week. This will mean more walking, more cooking, more hand washing, more water fetching. It will also mean more greetings, more KiKaonde conversations, more smiles, more hugs, more singing, more laughing, more sunsets, more roosters crowing, more Zambian breezes and more self-dependence.
I am learning to appreciate and enjoy what I have in front of me. Would I be lying if I said I didn't miss iced coffee or driving? Yes. But those are simply things. Living this simple life has made more room for me to appreciate relationships, community, conversations, culture and Mother Nature. Living simply has enabled me to trust myself and earth to keep me safe and happy, and to appreciate and love a culture that is different than my own. No caffeine. No advertisements. No blackberry. No waste of gasoline. No shopping mall. Just being.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A month in...

I have about five minutes left to post something...sorry if it seems rushed, but I want to update everyone!

I am all moved into my homestay village. I live with another volunteer who I have become great friends with in such a short period. My homestay family is large and gracious. There are many smiling children who I am overwhelmed to see at night after long hours of language and technical training. I am learning kikaonde, which is the language that Zambians speak in Northwestern Province where I will be placed. I will be 25k away from the next volunteer, but I am happy that I am only 500 meters from a water source and only 1k from my school. I am so happy to be here. The Zambian people have been nothing but pleasant and seem to have an intense appreciation for life that I enjoy very much so. I hopefully will be able to post pictures in a month or so. I wish I had more time to describe my life here, but I have to catch a ride back to my village through Peace Corps.
I will quickly write a journal entry taken from Saturday, 2/27/2010:
I love Zambian thunderstorms. They calm the heat with their controlling bongo-like thuds. They creep slowly through the wide, African sky and unleash at the perfect time. The sounds of Nyanja singing and the bellowing laughs from local children are drowned out by the strike of a thunderstorm's wrath. The rain pitter patters on the straw roof of my mud hut here in Chishiko village. The soun is perfect motivation for studying KiKaonde. The rain hushes all other thoughts out of my mind, and I am able to rehearse my foreign phrases freely. And then...just when I am slumping into KiKaonde mindset, I am electrified by a strike of lightning only to remind me to stay on task with my new language.
Bamaama doesn't speak much English. She doesn't speak much KiKaonde either. But she sure laughs a lot and seeing her smiling face every morning is more language than I could ever ask for. Bamaama is the perfect representation of a generous Zambian. She wakes me up pleasantly in the morning with her warm laughter along with a boiling hot "bafa", bucket bath, awaiting upon my door stoop. I slowly awaken off my floor mattress and escape out of my mosquito net to the sounds of roosters and guinea fowls, and on the occasion, some Zambian hip hop music. Bamaama is always already on top of her daily tasks as I put on my bike helmet and rain jacket and begin to depart for my daily language lesson taught by Ba Golden. Bamaama's final ode of positivity before I leave, resonates with me throughout the day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And the adventure begins...

Sunday, the day before my flight to Philly for a 2 day staging to meet my fellow Peace Corps volunteers, was comforting. I had an amazing night out on Saturday with my closest home friends. It was both comforting and difficult to leave them behind. Sunday was filled with saying my goodbyes to some close cousins, aunts, uncles, stepsister, brother, stepmother, and father. I ended the night with hanging out with my mother and spending some quality mother/daughter time with her. After my emotional send off at the airport, grasped with hugs and tearful goodbyes from my parents, I felt an overwhelming sense of support. I am more than lucky to have a big family who cares about me and loves me. I feel as though this is what I am supposed to do, and I will constantly be thinking about my support system back in America. I vow to do my best to represent those who love and support me in a positive manner while I spend the next 27 months in Zambia. I thank all of those who are thinking about me and know that I will be doing the same for them. I can't express enough how lucky I truly feel I am. I have been greeted by a friendly group of 52 Peace Corps Trainees here in Philadelphia, just like myself, and an excellent, small Peace Corps staff. I hope to pass on my excitement and positivity to those around me knowing that I am confident in my decision to take on this adventure with full force and energy.