First and foremost, I sincerely apologize for waiting a good nine weeks before taking the time to write a blog entry since my arrival in Zambia; it should be a simple understanding, however, that the internet, and computers in general, are not only hard to come by, but also stressful in their performance and capabilities. I hope to cover as much as possible, in a nice brief format to get you up to speed as to what has been happening here in the “real” Africa, or so they call it.
To start things off, I’m on my second day as an “official” Peace Corps Volunteer! Five days ago, we had our swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Ambassador’s house in Lusaka. Not only were the grounds gorgeous, and everyone dressed up in their new local, traditional formal wear (my host father tailored me a traditional shirt to wear, it was a surprise and I was touched), but also the ceremony itself was amazing. I was selected, along with five other volunteers, to write speeches for the event, and I was chosen to give the closing remarks and thank you’s in the local language (Chinyanja). After taking our oath, our group of volunteers sang the American National Anthem and then the Zambian National Anthem to close out a rather touching ceremony. It feels good to finally be apart of the organization that I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to work with!
But before all of that, we had PST (pre-sevice training) in a small city near Lusaka. In Chongwe, we were each assigned to a host family in small, rural villages, where we ate local foods, learned daily house chores, practiced our language skills and began the general integration into Zambian culture. My host family, the Kayumba’s from Kapomangoma village, were so much more than I could have asked for: Andrew (Father/”Atate”), Esther (Mother/”Amayi”) and eight siblings (4 brothers/”Abale” and 4 sisters/”Alongo”). They were enthusiastic to invite me into the family from the moment I stepped off the cruiser and began to set up my little mud hut. They spoke wonderful English, which made the transition fluid and helpful, and as I started to learn more Chinyanja, they eased into their natural tongue and I followed suit. It was really hard to say goodbye to all of them, as they were just so helpful, kind and patient with me; unfortunately, on the last night, I was suffering from food poisoning and instead of enjoying my last meal with the family, I was puking my face off in and around my hut. But I manage to keep in touch with them and am already looking forward to visiting them throughout my service.
As for the other people in my intake, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect, diverse and inviting cluster of individuals to be around. Although now, we have split up into our project and language groups, all in their respective provinces around the country, but I am fortunate enough to have been placed with whom I consider my “best” friends out of the intake. The odds of that happening are incredibly slim, but the three people who I’ve spent the most time with over the course of PST are now my village neighbors, and the moral and emotional support that I’m going to be needing will now be so much more accessible and encouraging. It only helps me to look forward to the next two years of work and living.
I know this is a short update, but having skipped so many opportunities to post leaves me to keep things in brief for now. Otherwise, I’m in good health (although roughly ten pounds lighter) and I’ve managed to trim my hair once so things are being kept under control. I’m still motivated and ready to begin my service. I do miss lots about home and hope everyone is doing fine where they are. I’ll most likely be putting up monthly updates from here on out, since I’ll be having good access to quality internet when I visit the provincial house, so keep your eye out! Maybe pictures soon too…..who knows.
Love and miss you all!