This first week has been a whirlwind of adjusting to life and the culture in Zambia. Peace Corps has a cycle of emotions throughout service that they keep showing us, but I think we all have experienced all the ups and downs in one day. Every day is pushing yourself a little further and being a little more comfortable in the latrine.
We spent our first three days in Zambia at a hotel in Lusaka, where we had medical consultations, filled out A LOT of paperwork, and got to know our languages!! We then moved to our training site, which for all the CHIPers is Chongwe. Here we all live with a host family in the village, and then have class at the training center Monday – Saturday. Almost every day we will have four hours of language, and then 4 hours of technical. I am learning Bemba, the most common language in Zambia. Some languages are so specific that you can know which province you are going to based on which language you are learning, but I could be going to one of four; Central, Northern, Muchinga, and Luapula. I honestly have no idea which province I will be placed in, and I’m trying not to form an opinion so that I’m not disappointed!
Adjusting to the homestay has been a process. My family is so kind and welcoming. They have a table cloth and chair covers all over their home that say “feel at home”. When we arrived on Sunday, I was so overwhelmed and appreciative at the same time. My family has hosted volunteers twice a year since 2006, so they’ve had their fair share of Americans. They are not at all surprised by my irrational fear of bugs/ all other things I haven’t yet mastered. But, I have a very nice hut, Latrine, and shower house all to myself. I am well fed and taken care of :). I even have a light connected to electricity that is turned on from 6pm to 6am!!!! They know all of us Americans are afraid of the dark. I love it.
Funny stories of the week:
- The bugs. Everyone knows that I am not a fan of the creepy crawlies. I knew that Zambia would push these limits, but I chose not to think about it. Anyways, we have an ant problem. Millions of teeny tiny black ants. On any given afternoon, you can see me do a stomp dance all throughout my hut to try to kill as many as possible. I also have made an agreement with the wall spiders. As long as they do not enter my mosquito net, I will leave them on the wall. For now. When they get too close to my things, I have to smash them. Those suckers are HUGE.
- This morning there was a mixup on the location of language training in the morning, so half of us ended up at the wrong place. A group of us decided to take a shortcut through some side streets that had seemed fairly straightforward the day before…. but somehow was not nearly as straightforward to us. Imagine 5 white girls in the bush of Zambia, on mountain bikes & wearing helmets, who only know how to introduce themselves in the local language, asking for directions. It ended up that we just paralleled the main road for the majority of the time to the center, with a few detours. Every single time we stopped we attracted a crowd of youngsters yelling “how are you?!”. I also learned the word the for lost today! It was quite an adventure, and we spent the whole hour laughing at ourselves. That may have been a better cultural lesson than the one we missed? I guess we’ll never know.