Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to Village Life...

It has been a struggle...
You know, I spent 3 months getting adjusted and accustomed to life in the village. Life seemed normal. Life seemed okay. I didn't really miss home that much anymore. I could live without friends and family. I could live without electricity and water. I could go weeks without being in town. It was my life. I was, as they say in Zambia, USED.
But then, take me away and throw me into two of the biggest cities in Zambia for 3 weeks, and it is all erased. I spent these weeks being surrounded by friends, and more especially American friends; friends that share my same culture, ideas, history, and lifestyle. We spent our time drinking, hanging out, and going out dancing (things that we hadn't been able to do in the 3 months prior). We got to meet and interact with town Zambians (who are a completely different kind of people than village Zambians). We felt the freedom of walking through shops and restaurants and towns without everyone staring at us and watching our every move. We were not the first and only white people they've seen. We could show off our meager language skills and dazzle those we spoke to (yes they've seen plenty of white people before, but none who can speak local languages). We felt proud. We went on vacation and hung out with tourists. We spent big bucks on safaris, cruises, and rafting trips. We lounged around in bed and by the pool without worrying that anyone was thinking we were lazy. We felt free. We felt almost like normal Americans again.
And then...back to village life...
Back to the loneliness, the boredom, the isolation, the hard labor of making fire and fetching water, the inability to communicate, the inability to get them to understand you and why you do the things you do. Back to the guilt for sleeping in too late, the questions about why you are spending so much time in your house, the random people walking back and forth past your yard and staring at you, the empty greetings, the lack of privacy, the lack of conversation and intellectual stimulation. Back to the unfamiliar culture, beliefs, and lifestyle. Back to never being alone, yet somehow feeling totally alone.
This is my life now. I know I'm making it sound horribly tough... but, don't worry, I'm sure I'll get used to it again. Maybe it will be okay and totally normal 3 months from now... by then it will be time for my next vacation...

Vacation in Livingstone

• Travelled down by bus (about a 6 hour trip from Lusaka) with Meredith, Emily, Musi, and Andrea. On the way we passed me and Meredith’s towns and our provincial town. We were proud to point them out to our friends (and all the bus passengers that were shocked that we actually live here lol).
• Arrived to find that our hostel was right next to the bus station! How did we get so lucky?!? The hostel was awesome- totally catering to young white tourists- pillows and comfy chairs/lounges everywhere, all open with a woodsy/outdoorsy feel, nice tropical looking pool area, amazing outdoor bar/restaurant area (with the best most variety of American style food I’ve seen in Zambia yet!), simple yet clean rooms, self catering kitchen, on-site travel/activity booking agent, etc.---Amazing! And Affordable! If you are ever going to Livingstone, look up Jollyboys!
• On our first day, we just lounged around at the hostel, simply enjoying being on vacation, and not having to answer to anyone. Plus, I think we might have been a bit tired from going out dancing the night before ;-)
• Our second day, we had booked a Game/Safari Drive in the morning and a Sunset/Booze Cruise in the evening. The Safari drive was awesome- we had a great guide (who even broke the rules a little bit and let us get out and walk)- and we were lucky enough to see all of the animals possible in the park except for the Rhinos- we saw crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, baboons, wildebeasts, zebras, etc. We even got to walk up close and look at a Buffalo carcass that some vultures were eating!
• After resting back at the hostel for a bit, we were picked up for the cruise. The boat goes down the Zambezi for about 1.5 hrs before sunset. They serve snacks, dinner, and all you can drink alcohol. The boat stops for the sunset, then returns back much faster than it came, at which point there is a crowd of young tourists downing more drinks as quickly as possible. Me being that smart one that I am, had decided to drink wine that night, since it is expensive in Zambia and I hardly ever get the chance…bad decision! LOL. Let’s just say that my friends were able to continue partying on into the night with friends they made on the boat…while I had to stay back at the hostel in bed  P.S. Don’t ever try to mix Red and White wine…yeah, it tastes okay…but did not make me feel okay!
• The next day, we decided to take a trip to Victoria Falls. We just walked the paths around the Falls, crossed the Knife Bridge, took some pictures, and watched our friend Musi bungi jump. As we were sitting up at the top of the falls, we saw a large group of people gathering on the shore, and we saw some boys coming from a distance, wading through the fast flowing current before the water goes over the edge. As they got closer, we could see there was one boy in front, feeling out the path and guiding the others. There were about 8 Zambian boys following him, and they were carrying something heavy. Finally, we could see that it was a body, all wrapped up in plastic and blankets. The crowd silently watched and waited as the boys slowly and carefully picked their way through the dangerous waters. They finally reached the shore and the crowd parted as they loaded the body into the back of a waiting truck, and drove away. There was a News Crew there that was able to give us a bit of information--- There are illegal guides that will take groups of people along the edge of the falls to pools of water where you can swim and even look over the edge. This boy (he was in his 20’s) and his friends had gone with such a guide last week and the boy had somehow been swept away/drowned while they were swimming. His body never went over the edge, but the search party was not able to find him for almost a whole week. It was only his friends and family doing the search and retrieval…the park would play no role in assisting. Sadly, these kinds of things happen all the time here, and nothing is ever done about it. I wonder if it would have been different if it had been a tourist to drown?
• We were having so much fun in Livingstone that we decided to stay an extra day and book a whitewater rafting trip. Me being the adventurist I am, I convinced my friends to do the full day rather than just a half day trip. LOL might have been a mistake…
• Anyways, the day started with a big group intro, safety instructions, and all that good stuff. It was fun because we already knew many of the guides (I even partied with some of them the night before). For the ones that didn’t know us yet, they soon did, as they were shocked and delighted to hear us speaking to the others in Tonga and Nyanja. After safety briefings, we took a little drive to the Falls, unloaded the gear, and hiked down to the bottom of the Falls- the “Boiling Point”. They set the rafts in the water and loaded us in. There were 7 or 8 rafts in the group. My guide was kind of like the leader, so on the first rapid, we stayed back and supervised as all the others went first. I think the first 3 in a row failed and flipped! Oh well! We had no choice now- we were already in it for the day! Finally, my raft tackled rapid 1… and we made it through! After that we continued on… all boats making it through 2 and 3… then a few flipping on 4… mostly good on 5 and 6… THEN WE GOT TO 7… the longest and hardest rapid of the trip- I think half or more of us flipped- my boat was first to attempt and we flipped right away- I tried to hold on to the safety line, but my hand slipped and off I went down the rapid! Did I mention this is the LONGEST rapid? Meaning I got dragged and tossed and dunked under the water for what seemed like forever! Now I am usually a pretty tough and adventurous kind of girl…but I was seriously scared for my life! I have never been through something so terrifying- I SERIOUSLY thought I was going to drown. I was frantically trying to swim toward the edge or to the nearest safety kayaker, but it didn’t help. I finally gave in and let myself float away, finally being rescued by another raft down where the water finally calmed and smoothed down. I looked around and the river was littered with paddles and people in orange life jackets. The rafts collected everyone, and then took a little break to sort out and redistribute everyone to their correct rafts. Many, like me, were scared and flustered and out of breath, choking and coughing up the gallons of water they swallowed. One boy had a bloody nose and a chipped tooth. I heard later in the day that another girl had chipped her tooth also. Crazy! The next few rapids were terrifying, mostly because I was dreading a repeat of number 7. We stopped and had lunch after 10, which I could hardly eat because my stomach was still doing flips. My friend decided she had had enough and quit for the day. Me and my other friend reluctantly decided to continue. Luckily rapids 11-25 were much calmer and simpler than the first 10, and I think we made it the whole afternoon without any rafts flipping  After the hard day rafting, a bunch of the guides came back to our hostel to hang out at the bar, and then we went out dancing with them in the evening. All in all, an exciting day!
• Finally, the next morning we had to say goodbye to Livingstone. I can’t wait to go back! Going for New Years’ if not sooner! We took a bus to Choma, where we spent the night, more out of laziness than anything… and then finally returned home to village life the day after that.

IST (In-Service Training) in Lusaka

Sorry that this entry will not be very elegantly written--- it can be somewhat difficult to remember and write out clearly all the details of what happened 3 weeks ago. So, I’ll instead just list some of the key events, and hope that is enough to satisfy everyone 
• So, IST (In Service Training) happens at the end of CE (Community Entry), which is the first 3 months in your village. At IST we met up again with all 27 of us from my original training group (this is the first time we have all seen eachother in 3 months). We stayed in the same college dorms that we’ve stayed in before for PC Lusaka events.
• We had 2 weeks worth of workshops/training sessions on a variety of topics like- IGA’s (Income Generating Activities), PTAs, Grant Proposals, Adult Literacy, NGOs, Permagardening, HIV/AIDS, Safety & Security, Libraries, GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camps, etc.
• Also included was a 2 day workshop w/ a counterpart from each of our villages, that focused on Project Design and Management, where we learned how to work together to identify and prioritize the community’s needs and then plan solutions/get projects started within the community.
• We also had a 2 day Behavior Change workshop that focused on how to choose a target behavior and how to move a target population towards that behavior
• Outside of session times, we had free time to hang out at the dorms or to travel into town for dinner, shopping, drinking, dancing, etc. After 3 months alone in the village, I have to admit there was A LOT of drinking and going out (some went out every single night for the 2 weeks!). I found it a little bit overwhelming to be in such a large group of people and to be in such a big town, so I only went out 3 or 4 times.
• At the end of the 2 weeks, everyone split into their different groups heading different directions for vacation- some to Malawi, Luapula Province, Livingstone, and some back to their villages.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Exam Week

The school Term II is almost over. The pupils had exams this week and will finish up exams next week. I spent the whole week testing and marking exam papers for the Grade 5 Class (Teachers are moved around so that they don’t test their own classes). It was fun to be with the Grade 5’s and definitely interesting as some of them only understand basic commands in English (i.e. sit down, be quiet, etc.). Anything else I wanted to try to say or tell them got mixed results of understanding and total confusion… but a lot can be said with facial expressions and body movements (it helps with my background of Special Education as I am used to having communication issues with students :-). By Friday, they were even comfortable enough with me that I attempted to teach them some American School culture and was having them “catch a bubble in their mouth” (they fill their mouth and cheeks with air and hold it- thus keeping them quiet and from talking). Then we randomly ended up playing a game where I was naming animals and having them make the sounds, finally ending on “Fish”, where I explained that fish don’t make sounds, and we circled back to having a bubble in our mouths. They were very amused and happy to have a Mukuwa teaching and playing with them all week. Unfortunately, marking the test papers is a little more depressing. Depending on the subject, the average grades were between 20-50%, with only a very small number getting anywhere above 50%, and maybe only one or two making it above 80%. And it was not shocking to find some getting 7%, 10%, 13%, etc. But, when you consider that these are the same children who understand only very basic English commands, that are then expected to read and answer test questions written entirely in English, it’s not too surprising. They are basically just “Christmas Treeing” their way through their entire Education.
Next week, when school ends, I will be going on “Holiday”. First I am planning to go to Choma for the weekend to hang out at the PC House and with Meredith. Then, we will travel together to Lusaka, where we will meet up with all the others in our RED training group for 2 weeks of workshops. When that is finished, some of us will go to Livingstone for a few days of vacation. Finally, towards the end of August I will return back to the village and get ready for school to open back up.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive…

But, I’ll start with the positives, then get to the negatives. Since my last post, I’ve just been in the village continuing to settle into everyday life. I selected a teacher to co-teach with, and I started teaching Grade 8 and Grade 9 English classes. I was super scared about starting to teach, but it went way better than I expected. The Grade 8’s in particular are usually a pretty troublesome class, so I was afraid to teach them. But, I gave them a very strict warning that they better listen and behave when I teach…and they are actually following and listening to that! They have been great for me so far! The Grade 9’s (who I had been more friendly with all along) are actually the ones that are a little bit more troublesome now when I’m teaching. All in all, both classes are going well, and I’m looking forward to continuing teaching them, and hopefully improving their learning in some small ways.
My administration is still excited about me painting things on the school, and they bought some of the white paint needed. But, I told the staff that they need to be the ones to come up with the ideas of exactly what should be painted and where; my Head agreed and told each department that they should bring their ideas to me; but, so far nothing has happened. I’ve also come to a bit of a stand still with the resource room. We have some more resource books that came from the Head’s closet, but I don’t have anything to make additional shelves with right now. I was also granted 1,000 free story books from a certain NGO that need to be picked up in Lusaka and brought to the school…so then we will actually have the start of a small library.
I spent last Saturday- Tuesday at the Zone-wide sports tournament for my school. We took 65 pupils and 8 teachers to camp the 4 days at the host school. Girls and female teachers camped inside classrooms, and boys/male teachers camped outside in temporary grass shelters (with no roofs). Each school had to plan and bring food for their own meals. There were 9 schools attending, and sports being played included athletics (track & field), soccer boy’s, soccer girl’s, volleyball boy’s, volleyball girl’s, and netball girl’s. At the end of the competition, my school came in number 2 overall. For the individual sports, this is how we placed:
- Athletics- #3
- Soccer Boy’s- #1
- Soccer Girl’s- #2
- Netball Girl’s- #1
- Volleyball Boy’s- didn’t place
- Volleyball Girl’s- didn’t place
My team that I’ve been coaching this term is Soccer Girl’s, so I was very happy and proud for my girls to come in number 2. Unfortunately no one really cares about girls soccer, and none of the other teachers cared to congratulate us, because they only cared about boys soccer and netball getting number 1. Also unfortunately, no one focused on volleyball, and I later found out that our school didn’t even show up (and therefore forfeited) most of the volleyball games. Next time, I think I will have to focus on helping volleyball more.
So, although I had fun camping for the sports games, it was also quite stressful. I struggled to stay positive throughout, and also when we returned home. I’ve been thinking about the best way I can explain it… and this is what I can come up with: Every single thing that happens in a day here is strange and different, and therefore difficult, for me. Things that seem totally typical and normal for Zambians are completely different than the way things are in America…and this becomes overwhelming.
For example, at a sports tournament in America there would be a strict and organized time schedule; a happy, yet disciplined crowd; chaperones for camping; organized duties, schedules, and menus for cooking; professional umpires/referees/judges; clear and for the most part undisputed results, etc. But, at a sports tournament in Zambia there is an extremely flexible and inefficient time schedule; an out of control, on the field, drunk, and disorderly crowd (and even a few drunk teachers); lack of supervision of pupils camping; no set duty, schedule, or menu for meals (and lots of disputes about food, and very hungry children); umpires and referees with no training; fighting, arguing, and complaining (between referees, coaches, pupils, and villagers) over every single result announced. In short, everything seemed extremely chaotic and unorganized… and quite overwhelming.
Then came the return to school- which occurred by packing 65+ people and their luggage into the back of an open canter truck, driving at night down dirt paths, with a driver that was clearly drunk…again, not something you would ever see in America- but to Zambians, totally normal. Anyways, the next day in America, teachers and students would return to school and work to get back to the normal routine at school. But, in Zambia, I showed up to school and found that the other teachers from the trip were “tired” and decided to just not show up for school. For the pupils who had returned from the trip, about half came to school, half stayed home. I stayed at school and watched and waited for a couple hours. No teachers for upper basic came, and no classes occurred. It was a free for all- the students had nothing to do, and were left to play around in the classroom or wander around the grounds. To make things worse, a man showed up to sell fish- and those teachers that were around (teaching the lower grades) left their classes and stood outside bargaining for 45 minutes (I timed it) with the fish man- meanwhile the entire school’s worth of children were running around and not learning! I became quite frustrated by that time, and became unable to force myself to be positive about any of it anymore. Luckily some of my pupils could see that I was upset and came over to comfort me. We took a walk and bought some oranges to eat, then we eventually decided to go home, since there was obviously not going to be any classes taking place. I went home and took a 3.5 hour nap- not out of tiredness, but out of pure disappointment.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Spending the weekend in Choma for Provincial Meetings, which means every volunteer in the Province comes to the Provincial House (for now only 6 of us in Southern). And each of the other Provinces around Zambia are also meeting at their Provincials. We had to meet to discuss countrywide Peace Corps information and policies, and then we also had a “House” meeting where we discussed house rules and issues specific to our Provincial House here in Southern. Today, we just have some free time to spend in town, and I’ll be traveling back home tomorrow.
Two good productive things happened this past week. First, I was able to start working on creating a Library/Resource Room at my school. There is an empty office space area within the staff room, that I got permission to use. So, I cleaned it out and set out looking for bookshelves. There are plenty of broken desks piled around the school, so I started collecting the usable wooden planks from the desk benches and tabletops, and then I found some bricks/cement blocks. My administration thought I was crazy to be doing any of this physical labor (carrying wood and brinks) myself and tried to tell me to stop and wait for another time when pupils could help. But, I insisted that I wanted to get it done now. So, I then built book shelves using the bricks and wood planks. When finished with those, I went to the deputy Head and Head’s offices’ to start collecting and transferring books. As of Friday, we have two bookshelves completely full of textbooks and resource books. This week, we are going to attempt to make more bookshelves and then we are tackling the job of cleaning out a certain storage closet that supposedly has boxes of donated storybooks buried somewhere in there. There are also things like charts and posters that can be taken out and used. So super exciting for progress to be happening!
The second good thing is that my school is super excited about me painting world maps, HIV/AIDS, and health messages/pictures on and around the school. And they’ve actually moved past just talking about it and actually gave me the money this weekend to buy paints! Woohoo! Progress!
Other than that, it’s just the same old business- going to school each day, hanging out with the teachers, playing/coaching soccer and volleyball in the afternoons, carrying water on my head, cooking on my brazier, hanging out with my sister Joy in the evenings.
Oh, actually I have a new hobby/coping mechanism! Baking! So, with the help and advice of my friend Heather, I learned how to bake with cooking pots and a brazier. What you do is take the largest cooking pot you have and put it on the fire. Then put some kind of barrier (tuna can, pot lid, etc.) inside the pot. Then place your other smaller pot (with the cake batter or whatever you are baking) on top of the barrier. Then cover with the large pot lid. (The barrier just acts to lift the inner pot off of the direct heat). Then, depending on what you are making, and how the baking is going, you can add fire/coals on top of the large pot lid (then the heat will be coming evenly from the top and bottom). So, far, I’ve made 2 cakes, a shortbread & lemon custard pie, and shortbread/sugar cookies! I would have made more but I ran out of flour! But, now I’ve stocked up on supplies in town and will go crazy baking!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Zambian Culture

• I tried to give the neighbor’s dog the bowl of pancake batter to lick, but he wouldn’t eat it. “Wow” I thought “these dogs are super picky” (they don’t eat bread either b/c they aren’t used to/familiar with it). So, I decide to add some Sampu (Zambian maize porridge) to the bowl. He still wouldn’t eat it! He sat down a foot or so away and stared at it, but he didn’t leave. Finally, I realized the issue- the bowl! I dumped the contents on the ground, he wagged his tail and immediately started eating. Duh! He wasn’t used to being given food in a bowl…If he ever tried to lick from a bowl at home he would most definitely be beaten! Oops! Guess these Zambian dogs won’t be helping me prewash my dishes!

• A LARGE number of Zambians will passionately argue that a Zambian child CANNOT learn without a stick (i.e. beating). Corporal punishment is against the law here, but it is far from being removed from the schools. To give you an idea- I see AT LEAST 30 kids get beat each and every morning. The severity of the beating is up to the teacher doing it (usually the “Teacher on Duty”). They line the children up and use a stick to smack the childrens’ butts. You can hear the smack from across the school. Some kids laugh, some kids cry. One teacher just hits twice, but another teacher hits 6 times! The beating continues inside the classrooms, where it can range from a smack on the head, back, hands, or even the face! Behaviors that can earn a beating are wide and varied, and again totally up to each teacher’s discretion. Some common reasons include being late, being dirty/not bathing, giving the wrong answer, not doing an assignment, skipping afternoon work/sports/clubs, not raising your hand, talking, writing too slow, slouching, or maybe the teacher just feels like hitting someone. Unfortunately, somehow, even with all this beating…the students still are not learning. *Addition* I listened to my 14 yr old brother wailing and screaming last night as his mother beat him for about 10 min straight.

• Living in a Zambian village, it always sounds as if people are just hanging out in your yard or just outside your window. And sometimes they are!- with somewhat good reason- i.e. your house just happens to be in the middle of the path/direction they want to go; their cows are hanging out in your yard, therefore the herd boys are hanging out in your yard; they are stalking their pig/goat/chicken that happens to be hanging out in your insaka or veranda. And sometimes you find that even though it sounds as if they are right outside their window, they are actually at their own house next door (which is so close it could still be considered your yard) sitting around the fire talking.

• Sports here is kind of like school- unorganized. There are no clearly defined teams. Girls can float freely between netball, volleyball, and soccer. 50 girls can show up for practice one day and only 15 the next day. They have never been taught to do any kind of drills or training- their idea of practice is to put everyone out on the field and let them scrimmage the whole time. During which time, 22 girls are running and flailing around the field, frantically chasing after the ball in one massive herd. And this will continue from one day to the next and one year to the next. I am trying to introduce some organization and some practice drills, but I am being met with opposition from my assistant coach, who insists on continuing with the “put them all on the field and let them play” idea.

• If you are riding your bicycle down a path and come across a herd of cows coming your direction, should you?: (Choose your answer, and I’ll tell you mine next time) (This situation occurs for me once or twice or even three times every day)
o Shout and toss sticks at them
o Move off the path and wait for them to pass
o Grab stick, stand still on path and wait for them to pass
o Continue slowly on the path and force them to move around you
o Ride off the path and through the bush to get around them
o Turn and run/ride the other way

Birthday Post

Today is my birthday. I am 25. It seems extremely weird to be having my Birthday in Africa. Also seems weird to be 25! I just met Heather (LIFE) and Tim (PCVL) in town. We are going to do a few things in town (like get a free ice cream for my birthday from the boy at the ice cream stand!). It is banana soft serve, which sounds disgusting, but is actually quite delicious- me and Heather get some every time we come to town! Then, after town, Heather and Tim are coming back to my place and spending the night at my house in the village. I’m not sure if my family is planning anything for my Birthday- except my bataata promised he would kill a chicken and have one of the wives cook it for us. But hopefully, my sister also said maybe there will be some music and dancing…we’ll see. On Sunday morning, I want to take my friends to the school, where some games will be going on, so I can introduce them to some of the teachers and pupils. Then, they will leave Sunday afternoon, and Tim will go to visit/spend the night at Heather’s place. Also, I’m sure at some point I will have a bucket of water poured on me, as that is their Birthday tradition here (I think to symbolize birth, but I’m not entirely sure).

So, things are going good here. I’ve been super busy. It is hard to find time now to do just the little things like sweeping or doing dishes or even bathing! It is winter, so daylight hours are short (and almost entirely spent at school). I am getting more used to eating lunch late- or not eating lunch at all. If there is a meeting scheduled for that day, you can almost count on missing lunch. That’s just the way it goes here. Luckily, they usually feel some sympathy for the “Mukuwa” and at least give me some biscuits (cookies) to snack on. I spend my days at schools observing teachers and taking notes on what I might work on to fix/change at the schools. I’ve become very familiar and comfortable with most of the teachers at the Zonal school where I spend most of my time. They are getting to know me too- how I will speak my mind, and not let them off the hook for being late or missing their classes lol. I’m still working on traveling to and getting to know the other schools and the teachers there. One day a week I am supposed to work in the community, but this time is very open and unstructured, so it is difficult on these days to know exactly what to do. But, I am slowly meeting some people in the community that I might eventually work on some projects with. We held my “community agreement” meeting earlier this week, where representatives from each of the schools and PTA’s came. I reviewed the PC and RED project goals with them and then went through the contract that we were to sign. It was a very good and productive meeting :-)
Well, I am tired of writing and want to try to put some pictures on. So, hope everyone and everything is well at home. Thank you for packages and letters!

One Month In....


• Met Heather in town again, brought my sister Joy with me b/c she was supposed to meet her boyfriend in town- unfortunately he never showed

• Went on internet & spent most of the time explaining things to Joy and showing her pictures from home (all along she has heard me saying I want to go on the internet, etc. and she had no idea really what it was or what it meant to “get on the internet”)

• Ate 2 ice creams lol- banana soft serve- never heard of such a thing or would have thought it would be good- but it’s actually pretty okay 

• Horrible ride home in back of canter truck! Way too many people squeezed in- can’t even explain how squished and uncomfortable we all were- also had stupid drunk man yelling things at me 


• Slept in until 8.

• Washed my bed sheets

• Finished painting leaves on the trees of my 2nd mural

• Started painting 3rd mural-sunset scene w/ ocean and palm trees

• Got very sad today- it started with me thinking about and missing my boy at home- then down spiraled from there until I was just sitting in my bath bucket crying and thinking “what the heck am I doing sitting here alone in the middle of Africa?”- I feel totally alone, isolated, and questioning whether I’ve made a mistake in coming


• 6:45 staff mtg, started at 6:50- big improvement!

• Talked with student teacher about beating-she does not do it & doesn’t agree with it- good to hear at least one teacher say this

• Observed gr. 8 all day- lots of beating-lots of teaching in tonga- not much learning

• Played volleyball in afternoon- made me very happy! I want to play everyday, but they want me to be the girls soccer coach instead

• Visited SDA preschool- teacher doing good job, but only 2 children b/c others stopped coming when they were asked to pay school fees- she just wants materials/donations from me


• Can’t believe I’ve been here almost a month! Crazy!

• Observed gr. 9 all day- they are much better than gr. 8- speaking better englsih, better behavior, participation, friendliness, and interest in me, etc.- I even spoke up and taught a bit today! I really enjoyed them!

• Coached soccer in p.m. w/ student teacher- girls at a skill level of about a U-7 league in U.S.- all chasing the ball around the field in a big herd and flailing their bodies all over the place- we have a lot of work to do!

• I want to make a weekly schedule for teaching/learning aid workshops


• No school- African holiday

• Made to-do list and laid on reed mat all morning working- made Gr. 8 & 9 time tables (class schedules) to post in their classrooms ( b/c teachers are avoiding responsibility to do it & is now 3rd week of school and pupils still have no idea of their schedule)

• Made sign up sheet for teaching/learning aid workshops, made roster& position diagrams for soccer, organized notebooks and observation notes

• Fetched water by myself for first time (no one walking with me)

• Made pancakes-yum!


• Observed gr. 9, talked to kids a lot and also helped explain/teach English lesson

• Made list for girls soccer team- 54 girls signed up!

• Went to Pentecost preschool to observe & bring teacher some ideas & notes- set plan to get together and work on making daily schedule and teaching materials- very excited to work on this with her!

• Soccer practice horrible- student teacher took over & put all girls on field, then took 25 min to organize them


• Woke up a bit late, then decided I didn’t feel like going to school

• Couldn’t really make up my mind about where/what I should do community wise, so I just stayed home

• Worked on some stuff for Pent. Preschool & made Zambia map

• Scrambled pancakes for breakfast, mashed potatoes for lunch, oatmeal for dinner- I’m bored with my food!

• Went to school in p.m. for soccer- did 1st half of practice on my own, then let student teacher do 2nd half- played volleyball w/ girls after!


• While waiting for church I experimented with baking, trying to make an oven by putting coals on top of pot lid- used short bread recipe- oven didn’t work- I scrambled the dough & made some crumbly good stuff- tried again in p.m. and added some oats- made granola! Yay! Will use as cereal in a.m.!

• Church- outside in sun, hot, boring- don’t even listen-all in tonga

• Too lazy to do wash today

• Got water 2 times by myself- but still struggle lifting it to my head

• Relaxed and read my book


• Supposed to meet at school at 7:00 to depart for sports games- I show up and no one is there- 1 student teacher around, working on lesson plans- at 7:45 he says lets go to his house ( where 2 other teachers live)- we hang out there until 8:45 when some others finally arrive to school- don’t leave the school to head to sports games until at least 9:30, stop to eat breakfast, get to fields at 10:30- no one from other school there- teachers finally come and games start around 12:00- end at 17:30- which means I ride bike home in dusk/dark

• Found out that the girls only play a 40 min soccer game, while the boys get a full 90 min, b/c

• “girls can’t handle 90 min”


• Nurses from clinic came to do health education program with gr. 1, 7, & 9- did check-ups (eyes & teeth) for little ones & HIV/AIDS talk & pamphlets for older ones

• After break no teachers showed up for gr. 9 (4 periods in a row)- so I sat with them and talked about sex, HIV/AIDS, relationships, gender roles & issues, America, etc. – was good bonding time- I want to continue having sessions on HIV/AIDS w/ them


• Supposed to be a community meeting this a.m. to go over the PC contract and sign it- NOBODY showed up- Head Teacher left to town and said if anyone showed up I could go ahead and have the mtg. without him lol

• Sat and wasted time in staff room- more teachers skipping classes- so not much to observe

• Had headache in p.m. and didn’t feel like training for soccer, so played volleyball instead

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Bit of Culture

Favorite Questions Zambians Like to Ask:

  • Where is Obama's hometown?
  • Are you married?
  • What church do you go to?
  • Do you drink beer?
  • Do you take nsima?
  • How do I get to America?

Some Interesting Zambian Names:

  • Whisper
  • Violence
  • Upper
  • Smart
  • Given
  • Gift
  • Cosmos
  • Loveday
  • Lovejoy
  • Pity
  • Hero
  • Pink
  • Stars
  • Mercy
  • Sunday
  • Monday
  • Friday
  • Lawyer
  • Bitten
  • Decline
  • Frozen
  • Litre
  • Lady
  • Lovely
  • Progress
  • Collide
  • Witness
  • Doubt
  • Math
  • Engine
  • Boyson


  • Went to town to meet Heather (PC LIFE)- showed her around different places in town, went to internet café, got ice cream & lunch, and just sat and talked for a long time- it was good for both of us- she just got posted to her site a few days ago and is having a bit of a rough time- feeling a lot like I was the first week or so (awkward, uncomfortable, isolated, irritable, and not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing)- anyways, it helped her to know that I was/still am going through the same things- it was also good to be able to sit and talk, vent, & joke about everything going on here so far
  • My sister Joy visited last night and stayed very late talking and hanging out- she is a good friend- I will be sad if/when she leaves for school



  • Went to Pentecost Church- showed up at 8:50 (for the 9:00 service)- nobody there- sat and visited with pastor and her husband, had coffee and donuts, read the Bible while they bathed and got ready- church finally started at 10:45. Lol typical Zambia
  • Pastor and her husband are very educated, wealthy, and well traveled- they have good ideas and opinions about development- they will be good people to talk to when I am feeling frustrated with my job, the lack of progress, cultural issues, etc.
  • The pastor is starting a preschool which is supposed to open tomorrow
  • Carried water on my head for the first time today (10L)- not too bad- will see how I feel later & try again tomorrow if my neck/head are not sore
  • I have some ideas for making some shelves/storage for my house/insaka- need to gather some wood/branches


  • Went to school for 6:45am meeting- no one there- first ones to show were the new student teachers- all others were very late- eventually had meeting and classes started at 8:00 (supposed to start at 7:15)
  • Biked 7Km to community school with Deputy Head for community meeting- there was a good turn out, about 48 people- discussing mostly the new building they are going to construct
  • Got home at 14:20- skipped lunch b/c I had tea and sweet potatoes at the meeting- and I needed the extra time to do my laundry!
  • Carried 10L on head again- not sore at all
  • Made some delicious white pasta sauce w/ powdered milk, flour, salt, & garlic parmesan seasoning
  • Some people are having trouble understanding "Community Entry" (the 3 mo. Period of time I am supposed to use for observations, data collection, and integrating into community) & why I am not working full time yet


  • Spent most of the day sitting with all of the administrators of the 8 schools while waiting for a meeting with the DEBS (District Education Board Secretary)- scheduled for 9:00
  • DEBS representative did not arrive until 13:30- meeting then went until 17:00- nobody had any lunch
  • Observed more beating of children (now 5th teacher I've seen)
  • Talked with the community school head teacher some more
  • Talked with PTA chairs of Nteme
  • Watched a bit of afterschool sports after meeting ended (they were playing "Netball" similar to Basketball)
  • Killed mouse #2


  • Spent whole day with male teacher, Grade 5 from 7:15-12:15, Grade 9 History 12:15-12:55- he was a very good teacher, especially with the young ones- active, energetic, good class control, using mostly English for instruction- went to his home for breaktime, he served hot cocoa and sweet potatoes- 2 student teachers also staying at that house
  • Returned to school for afternoon session ready to play sports, but non were going on b/c they are trying to build a storage shelter for the school maize they are about to start harvesting- so I attended the drama club meeting going on & watched them create and act out a skit off the top of their heads- they were very good and talented!


  • Observed at school Gr. 8 & 9, 2 different teachers- got very frustrated with one teaching English lesson & also with the general lateness and slacking going on with many of the teachers- how are these kids supposed to learn like this???
  • The male teacher from yesterday continued to be nice & even came to check on me/get me when he saw me sitting alone waiting for another teacher
  • Taught computer in the afternoon to 5 of the teachers- they want to continue computer lessons and others also want to join in
  • Working like this leaves me with no daylight to accomplish anything! I get ready in the dark in the a.m. and ride to school at just after it gets light, hopefully return home for an hour or so to make/eat lunch, then back to school until 17, Arrive home at 17:30, and still need to fetch water & try to bath before it gets dark (18). Then start fire and cook in the dark


  • Slept in a bit today (6:30), then rode bike 5Km to Special Ed. School- talked and collected some information from the Deputy Head- then observed some Gr. 7 lessons
  • Returned home very early- about 11:00- spent the afternoon cleaning and organizing the house- then had some time to relax in the afternoon

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Alive and Well

-          Went to town with bataata
-          Toured town- internet cafes, shops, bars, market, bus station, guest houses, district offices, hospital, etc.
-          Was proposed to at least 20 times
-          Rode on an open back truck in morning hitch and a minibus in the afternoon
-          Probably greeted at least 100 people
-          Hand fed the dogs with bataata in the evening to gain their trust
-          1 week today! Has gone by fast!
-          Slept in- until 7:00am lol- everyone- people and animals get up here at about 5:45a.m. each day- it is pretty loud and hard to ignore the noise- you hear kids running and yelling, cattle bells jingling, roosters crowing, pigs squealing, and goats crying
-          The mice in my house go crazy every night, I always expect a big mess in the morning, but it is surprisingly clean when I wake up
-          Started painting 2nd mural- did about 1/3 of it- tree/forest scene
-          Had lunch and waited whole afternoon for bataata to come and take me on tour of village- never showed
-          Started new book “Unbowed”
-          Put potatoes in leftover soup broth from lunch to make potato soup for dinner-didn’t turn out that great L
-          Had high hopes for breakfast- frying leftover potatoes (taken out of soup) & eggs- lol didn’t work so good
-          Started to paint insaka- ran out of paint- very difficult painting on rough bumpy soil walls- need to rethink that plan
-          Worked on 2nd mural again- painted trees and grass- need to finish leaves and details
-          Mouse living behind my suitcase and trying to dig hole in wall- just discovered where the term “packrat” came from- found my mouse’s stash of groundnuts!
-          Attempted French toast for dinner- interesting, but not total failure J
-          Cleaned room- moved/rearranged bags- big mess, but no mouse- found mouse traps and will try to set tonight
-          Finally hung mirror- amazing how good that makes me feel- to walk through the sitting room and see myself in a real mirror! Hope it doesn’t fall!
-          Went on LONG walking tour of Nteme area with bataata- 5 hrs- saw Community Dev. Office, World Vision, Clinic, judicial court, agriculture office, teacher houses, headmen, and the old PCV’s house
-          Very tired, sunburnt, and starving when we got home
-          Got 2 chickens as gifts from people we visited- will eat one and then keep the other for raising more- bamaama #1 cooked chicken for me
-          Sat awkwardly with family for awhile
-          Ready & waiting for church- yard in front of my house is burning- not really sure why? But they seem to be doing it on purpose
-          Sad when I turn on my phone and have no texts from anyone
-          Went to church-not as bad as last time, but still not fun- I also HATE getting home so late- get home at 13 & takes at least an hour to make fire and cook something- I can’t stand eating lunch at 14 or later everyday, but to Zambians it is normal to eat lunch anywhere from 13 up to 16!
-          Cleaned house, did a little RED note taking, helped bataata learn to use his new computer (he has never touched a computer before- I had to start with the ON button)
-          Got ready for evening- went to family compound for dinner, dancing, singing, and drumming- we were having a small wedding celebration for one of my brothers-they do a kind of “capturing” the bride from her parents house and carrying her (covered) into the groom’s family’s house where she must stay locked inside for the night- I stayed until about midnight, but they continued dancing/drumming on into the night
-          School starts tomorrow!
-          2nd part of wedding celebration today- feast- and bring bride & groom out of house & uncover her- more dancing & drumming for them- then they leave to their house
-          Wrote some letters to friends and family
-          Sat with family after celebration, talked and joked, helped peel & cut pumpkin leaves- starting to get a little more comfortable
-          Children getting more comfortable too
-          Spent time with grade 9 sister & got to know her better

-          Went to school at 7:15- kids cleaned and did assembly until 8:15- staff had a “briefing” during that time to decide on time for staff meeting and “what to do with the children”
-          Staff meeting set for 9:00, but started at 9:30 and went to 11:45- students hanging around in classrooms and school grounds
-          Left with 2 teachers to visit their houses- started home at 13:20- first time going home alone, got LOST- luckily randomly came across a man I recognized to be one of my brothers & he escorted me home lol
-          Bad headache and starving again- didn’t eat until 14:30
-          Headache continued all day even after nap- all night- woke up and majorly drugged myself with some Benadryl and ibuprofen- finally got better after that

-          Rushed breakfast and getting ready, then waited for others for a long time as usual- very big lack of sense of time here
-          Feel headache coming back already
-          Went with 3 bamaamas & grandma to funeral- walked to mourning house- cars, tents, and people camped all around, have been there a couple days- body/casket in house in sitting room with wailing women sitting around it- casket then taken to church & we follow behind- have church service similar to funeral service in America- do quick body viewing on way out- then casket and whole procession returns to mourning house & walk to burial place just nearby- put in ground and all sit and watch and sing as men bury casket with cement and dirt- call up various groups to stick flowers in mound- when burial finished, people return to mourning house for drumming & dancing & meal
-          Returned home with bamaamas- ate saampu for lunch- liked it a lot

-          2 weeks today
-          Observed many problems of zambain education today- lack of time awareness (teachers & pupils), teacher absenteeism, overcrowded classes, not using available materials, not having materials/lessons prepared, beating students (have witnessed 4 different teachers doing it already), random assignments (busy work) and grading, district offices unorganized, Head in town all day, Deputy Head absent, etc.
-          Mailed letters in town
-          Tried to meet DEBS in town, but she was not in the office
-          Went to internet café and Facebook is locking me out L

-          Rode bike to school all by myself and didn’t get lost! Too bad I got lost on the way home-even coming on the same path lol!
-          Traveled with Head by car to 4 schools
-          Visit in afternoon from Dickson, PC Zambia Safety and Security Coord., and PC Lesotho Safety and Security Coord.- just showing him around Zambian villages and PCV houses
-          Set mouse traps finally- killed one immediately!!! Yay!

-          Biked EARLY to school, went with Head to 2 more schools- saw a community school for the first time (sort of like a one room school house you might see in a “Cracker Country” exhibit or historical museum- then take it one step down from that- no chalk boards, no books, no materials, no desks, etc)
-          Went to visit/talk with clinic, world vision, and community dev.- but was a community meeting about to start at clinic & I decided to stay- ended up being a 4 hour meeting (from 11-15…again no lunch!)- all in Tonga- finally at end of meeting I got to introduce myself and Peace Corps and what I was doing there (in Tonga)- so was beneficial

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Quick Update

Really trying to get on Facebook right now, but the stupid thing is locking me out. For any that haven't traveled around...Facebook locks you out everytime you are in a new unfamiliar location b/c it is "suspicious"....usually I can easily resolve this by answering some security questions...but this time it just keeps continuing not working! Making me really mad!

Anyways, I'm just in town real quick today- came with my head teacher to meet the DEBS- District Education Board Secretary- & others in the district office. I plan on coming into town Saturday though and spending more time & writing a longer post.

School started on Monday. We had a wedding party for one of my brothers this weekend. And I went to a funeral yesterday. It was the 3rd funeral in the village just in the 2 weeks I've been here.

Home is going good. Things are getting a little more comfortable with the family. Now, it is time to get more comfortable with the schools and teachers!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First Days at Site

I’ve been trying to keep brief daily record/notes in a small journal since arriving at site- sort of just a list of some of my activities, interesting things, or feelings each day. So, without much expansion or elaboration, I’ll just give you what I’ve recorded so far in the journal:
-          Arrived at site in Nteme- went to the school first, but nobody was there b/c the teachers were all at a funeral- the Senior teacher’s brother had died
-          We proceeded to my house and unloaded my things from the cruiser
-          My bataata greeted me and showed me the house and helped unload- then he brought me over to his family- the family and I greeted each other then sat awkwardly for about an hour- I held a 1 month old baby most of the time (supposedly she was born the day I left from site visit last time!)
-          I fetched water w/ two of the girls
-          Made fire successfully and cooked dinner!
-          First full day in my new home!
-          Swept and waxed bedroom floor, hung poles in bedroom to hang clothes from, unpacked, organized, cooked lunch and dinner, successful at lighting brazier 3/3 tries so far!
-          Amazing and relaxing hot bath sitting in huge basin- first time in Zambia to take a hot sit down bath (I’ve had cold showers, cold bucket baths, hot bucket bath, and just last week a hot shower, but this is the first time I’ve been able to sit and relax in my bath b/c I bought a HUGE bucket lol)- for those of you that know how much I like my baths in the states, you know what a big deal this is to me ;-)
-          Pumped 20L water, carried 10L
-          Relaxed reading in bed, hot day
-          Some privacy issues- certain family lets themselves in and looks at/ asks questions about all of my things, wanting to know how much they cost and where they came from
-          One nice sister speaks good English and is 21, she has been very friendly
-          Painted first mural on wall in sitting room- African bush and village scene- took all day, but I finished it!
-          Neighbor lady worked on re-cementing my insaka/cikuta
-          I cried at lunchtime b/c they were watching me (from a distance) try to make fire and sent a little girl over to give me fire (hot coals from their fire)- I was upset b/c at that point my fire was lit and I didn’t need their help- and it makes me mad and embarrassed when they think I can’t do things like make fire
-          2nd day in a row there was a lizard in my shower room…and a frog lives in my toilet room
-          Major ant issue- I have no idea what attracts them to certain things and places! Like my water jug or under/on my bed and on any dead spider or termite dirt on the floor! Ugh!
-          13 kids piled themselves uninvited into my sitting room tonight for singing and storytelling
-          Up early and made breakfast, got ready for church (Seventh Day Adventist), then sat and waited for the girls to get ready
-          Big headache from the paint fumes last night (I couldn’t keep the windows open to air it out)
-          Auntie brought cibwantu (sweet beer- non alcoholic) for me to drink
-          Church was long and boring and my head hurt- I’ll need to figure a way out of going every week
-          Cooked lunch and took a long nap
-          Fetched water, took bath, and cooked dinner
-          I’ve had goats, chickens, and other random animals walk into my house on multiple occasions- one of the baby goats even ended up in my bedroom under my bed and I had to chase him out ! lol by the way, I’ve decided I really like goats (in addition to liking to eat them lol)- they are very interesting and curious, they walk up and just watch me, they look at me like they are humans, like “hey, what are you doing?”, then the baby ones are hilarious- the one is always trying to jump up on things like my insaka wall and my veranda wall- I have no idea why… but they give me entertainment anyways J
-          Woke early and ate cold leftovers
-          Went to the field with the women to harvest/dig ground nuts (peanuts), worked for 3 hours, was not too hard, but my back will be sore and my hands are a little blistered and sore
-          Women constantly thought I was tired and should rest or go home- I had to keep insisting that I was fine and trying to prove that I am strong- it is very frustrating to have people always thinking you are weak and can’t do anything!
-          Ants are still a big problem!
-          Stupid lizards in shower!
-          Layed in bed all afternoon reading my book- finished my first book of Communtiy Entry- “The Red Tent”- very very good- look it up and read it!
-          Not sure what I should be doing work wise- don’t really know where to start
-          Burned 2 of my fingers on right hand with boiling water tonight L
-          Woke in middle of night to the sound of a pot crashing and water splashing-which really freaked me out b/c I had left a pot of soup broth balancing precariously atop a bucket- went into the sitting room and luckily there wasn’t soup all over the floor- something did splash out of the dish bucket/water though- I shined my light around some more and discovered a little mouse friend and also something flying around seeming to be a bat- so seems I have a house full of creatures already
-          Luckily my fingers seem to be okay, I soaked them in water for a long time last night and slept with them wrapped in a wet washcloth- I think that really helped
-          Was lazy this morning so I got creative and made bread porridge- put a slice of bread in a bowl and poured warm water (from flask from night before), and a spoon of powdered milk and spoon of sugar, and mashed it up- lol it wasn’t too bad
-          Hung clothesline in yard and in house (for underwear) and did wash!
-          Shelled ground nuts while waiting for clothes to dry
-          Lizards now also in my toilet L
-          Hung citenge curtain and drew out picture on 2nd wall to get ready for mural
-          Almost cried at water pump b/c the women were talking about me and laughing and saying I was tired- it’s hard to always have people talking about you and you have no idea what they’re saying- I hear my name in conversations all day (and sometimes night) long, except its not my name, it is “muguwa” the word for white person- I’ll be inside my house, and I can hear it on my family’s compound, outside my house, at the neighbor’s houses on either side- all day long- tonga  tonga “muguwa” tonga “muguwa” hahaha….
-          Made delicious pancakes tonight
-          So I guess one of the dogs decided he didn’t like me tonight, he kept coming towards my veranda and growling and barking at me, I tried to shoo him away, but he seemed to get angrier and kept rushing closer to me, so I ran in my house and slammed the door- scared the crap out of me- I guess we’ll try to figure it out tomorrow- don’t know if its one of ours or a neighbors- all of the dogs seem to be barking and going crazy all over the place right now as I lay in bed typing this

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011


    Had a crazy day of shopping in Choma yesterday. It was stressful for many different reasons:
    •  we have a ton of stuff to try to remember to buy
    • we are shopping in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar procedures (i.e. how to pay, what you can/can't carry into stores, standing in line- or lack of lines, etc.)
    • you have to bargain for everything in the market, which gets good deals, but is exhausting!
    • we have no idea how much things should cost or what is/is not a good deal
    • we are unfamiliar with the products/brands
    • we are trying to judge how much of things we need to buy to last us 3 months or so
    • their form of money has huge #'s, so we feel like we are spending a ton, even if it's not so much when you convert it (when I go to buy a sack of potatoes and the tag says 44,000K - I kind of freak out a little bit lol) - I spent 400,000K on groceries yesterday! (this converts to roughly $80)
     Since my mom tells me that everyone is interested in all of the little details of my life, I'll bore you with a list of things I bought yesterday & today. There is probably more that I'm not remembering, but this is at least some of it:
    • Candles
    • Laundry soap
    • dish soap
    • toilet paper
    • cooking oil, salt, sugar, flour, powdered sugar, pasta, rice, beans, soya pieces, powdered milk, baking soda, baking powder, oatmeal, cinnamon, soup packets, tea, coffee, peanut butter, honey, butter, bread, cheese, eggs, boxed milk, potatoes
    • sponges
    • silverware
    • hand towels
    • plastic buckets for bathing, laundry, & dishes
    • 2 pots
    • 4 plates, bowls, cups
    • 2 storage food bins (trash can size)
    • 3 Geri Cans (for water)
    • 2 mixing bowls
    • reed mat
    • brazier
    • screen
    • white paint
    • black paint
    • paint roller & brush
    • mattress
    • bed frame
    • wooden poles
    • floor wax
    • doom- insecticide
    • tupperware containers
    • non-stick skillet
    • mirror
    • comforter
    I'm nervous about posting tomorrow. It's kind of scary to be dropped off there and be stuck alone for the next 3 months. I'm nervous about all the hard work of daily living alone in the bush, and worried that I will be lonely and/or have trouble making friends/connections with the villagers. I'm worried- what if I don't like it? What if they don't like me? What if it is too hard? What if my job isn't fun?

    I know it is normal to be nervous, and I'm sure it will all be fine when I get there, but for now I am still worrying. They just left to take Meredith to her site now. They will take Larry tomorrow morning, and then me in the afternoon. This is actually the order we always did our language stuff in too. I like to go last :-)

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Choma Choma Choma

    Swear-in went well! My speech was great- I didn't mess up at all! And I got many compliments from Zambians saying that I spoke like a natural Tonga! lol I'm sure that is far from the truth, but it's nice to get the compliments ;-) I have a video of my speech, but have no idea when I might be able to upload it, as I can barely upload 2 pictures at a time right now, connection is so slow!

    After the swear-in we did a little shopping, and in the evening we went out to a Zambian dance club. It was a lot of fun, we all were able to relax and dance....and we all stayed safe :-)

    Friday a.m. we drove here to Choma and I got to see my Provincial Peace Corps house for the first time. It is pretty decent, but there is a lot of old junk to sort through, organize, and get rid of. Me and Meredith are going on a cleaning/organizing streak! It is good we are the first and only ones there though, because we have the freedom to start over and make the house our own :-) We just walked into town (about 15 min) right now to get on the internet and do a few errands, then have lunch. Tim, our PCVL (Peace Corps Volunteer Leader) is showing us around. The PCVL lives at the PC Provincial house all year and serve as our leader/resource person in Southern. Tim is our temporary one for about 3 months, until a new one is assigned. Tim has been serving in Zambia for 3 years.

    At the Provincial House, there is a kitchen, living room, office, PCVL's room, and 3 bedrooms with a bunch of bunkbeds. We are allowed to come stay at the house 4 nights per month (to be used as relaxation, hang out, or work-related stuff). Usually, all of the volunteers in a province or area will try to plan a weekend each month where they meet up and hang out at the house. Right now there are only 3 of us, but in a couple weeks the 3 LIFE volunteers will join us too. Then in October about 8 more will come to Southern (RAP and CHIP programs). We'll be excited for our province to grow! We have a computer at the house, but no internet yet...but it is supposed to be coming. In the Provincial Capital town of Choma (where the house is) there is a Spar (think small Albertson's or Winn-Dixie) and shops of all shapes, sizes, and kinds (hardware, furniture, groceries, fast food type stuff, clothing, etc.). It is also a main hub for buses running North and South (to Livingston) and the train. Choma is a little over 100K from my district/area. I will probably only travel here once a month (probably by mini bus or hitching). Hitching is a very common and usually cheapest way to travel for volunteers in Zambia. I've done it with others, but not by myself yet. I'm a little scared lol.

    Okay, check Facebook for more photos (but my page won't load anymore, so they may be limited :-(