Saturday, August 28, 2010

Second Site Visit!!!

First, I'd like to say happy birthday to my twin sisters Laraine and Christine! I love you both.
Last night all of the RAP'ers found out where we would be going to stay for the next two years! This is my site description: "You are replacing Mr. Marky. This is a third generation site near a river and school. 40km from the Mwinilunga boma and 330km from the provincial house. You are close to the Fishers farm (where you can buy meat and real butter) and also close to the source of the Zambezi, a national monument. In your free time you will be able to bike through Nkanji Game Reserve and see greater kudu and zebra. Your house is covered in green vines and is a beautiful site during the rainey season."
My closest neighbors are Michelle (40km), Hunter (40km), Jack (70km) who are all 2010 RAP Volunteers. Mark and Sydney (20km) who are 3rd year extension Volunteers, and Erin a RED '09 Volunteer.
Before going into what we will be doing and where we are going for second site visit... I wanted to talk about what is going on with our PC group. We have lost yet another trainee from the CHIP program. She was MedSep due to lying on her application. All the RAP'ers are still here and the CHIP'ers have lost 6 people to ET (early termination). Many have said that it's because the RAP program does a lot more hands on work. But that is just the excuses.
Today we took our second language test in which i feel pretty good about how I did. I made a 92% again. Learning the language in 10 weeks is no joke. But I am trying. Today we (the trainees) have a soccer match against the trainers in which the volunteers have NEVER won. Our group of trainies has informed me that we will win though. I am going tobe playing, which means I am going to be the laughing stock for all the Zambian trainers, my fellow trainees, and all the people watching the match. Soccer is not my sport. Now, on Sunday we leave for our second site visit. Myself and the other RAP Lunda speaking volunteers will all be going to Mwinilunga to be hosted by Mark, at my future site. We have a lot of things that will be going on such as meeting new people, working with fish farmers, practicing the language with the locals and doing 4 hours of language training each day with our language instructors. That will be done the first 7 days of second site visit. After the 7 days we are going to be left alone at our site for 2 days. By we, I mean the trainees. We are going to be left alone out in the bush for the first time. I am looking forward to finally being able to cook my own food and have the time alone for the first time in a long time. Once we get back from second site visit we have just about two weeks of training before swearing in and becoming volunteers and not trainees.
I hope everyone is doing well back home and I miss all of you. GOD BLESS
Much love from Zambia, Africa

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Zambian life, and I am loving it!

First, I want to say that Burke, I am glad you found the blog!!

These last two weeks, I have been living in Chongwe, Zambia. I am staying with a host-family and also another volunteer. My host family consists of a mother, Judith, and her son Jono. Jono is about 15 years old and a little quiet. He may not know a lot of English though which would explain his quietness because I don't know much Lunda (my language to learn) yet. I am getting there though. I had my first full Lunda spoken exchange today. That made me feel really good about where I am in the language skills. My host mom, Judith, is a wonderful lady. The Peace Corps has it set up to where we don't have to do a whole lot around the house just yet, that comes in a couple weeks I believe. So, she does the cooking and dishes and Jono gets our water for both bathing and drinking. It is nice not having to do those things but at the same time I feel like they believe we are helpless. So I may jump into the grind of things a little sooner then the PC would like. Chongwe is a beautiful place to see. The sunrise and sunsets are amazingly beautiful. I have a ton of pictures of both. The sky at night is another site to see. Upon the billion stars that are always out, you can also see the Milky-Way. Yes, I have pictures of that too :)
The food out here has been a big surprise. Nshima (please google) is not very good, but they say I will come to love it. I disagree. But, Nshima is served at every meal except breakfast so I hope to come to love it soon. That is were the bad ends. Every night I am served either fish, beef, goat or chicken supplemented with two of either cabbage, spinach, rice, beans, soup or fritters (fried bread). Lunch is usually a pasta or rice dish with regular bread or soup. Oh, last night I had sausage. Breakfast has been boiled or scrambled eggs, the classic PB&J, or fritters. All meals are followed by "tea" which is either coffee (my favorite), tea, or hot chocolate. It is Lunda culture to not have anything to drink while eating. That is super hard to accomplish when eating nshima, but I have not broke tradition.
Although we have already lost four people to ET (Early Termination) I can say that I have 54 amazing friends here with me in Zambia. A few of us have decided to make a new tradition among our group by having cut-off chitanga Thursdays where we have a fabric "chitanga" made into a shirt with no sleeves and Bichi Fridays (fresh friday), where we dress in our Sunday best. We are currently looking for other ideas for the other days of the week lol. The other volunteers are from all walks of life in America and not one is from FL. I have come closer to a few people that are going to be in the Northwest Provence with me for the two years of service, but everyone has every ones phone numbers too. I don't think we have a single outcast in our entire group. I would actually be upset if any of the 54 that are left decided to quit. Our youngest volunteer is 21 y/o Leigh, she is from Cali. Our oldest is 62 y/o Cheng, from Washington. My NWP group consists of Jack from Idaho, Michelle from Washington, and Hunter from Rhode Island. Let me just say this, my language group (Jack, Michelle, and Hunter) are freaking hilarious. I can't tell you how many times I have cracked up laughing in class. Our teacher is always right there laughing as well though.
On to the story I have told 20 times... My boy Will was definitely feeling this girl one night and flirting with her. They were talking about scars and other things about each other when Will decides to take his short sleeve shirt completely off to show her a scar that was literally by his armpit but still on his arm. Mara (a volunteer) and myself busted out laughing when he did this. I was wearing a snap-up shirt and proceeded to rip it open while saying "Mara, check out my scar" all while pointing to my calf... Just to show how pointless it was for Will to take of his shirt when showing the girl his scar. Mara and I as well as 10 other people in the room are now ALL laughing. That is just a little info on the great people that I am sharing this experience with in Zambia.
I have had such a great time out here so far and I hope everything continues to go this way. I will write again when I can, but I don't know how long it will be from now. I hope everyone is doing great back in the States and remember, always write me letters because other PCV's say that is what gets you through the rough days. I love and miss all of you