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