- Should I screech my bike to a halt and step towards the side to the road, so as to terrify the children while retaining the excuse of “oh, I was just going to go talk to them!”
- Should I replace the word “chindeli” with the more amicable sounding “boss”? After all, it’s widely used and recognizable to their ears.
- Although, that would simply be replacing one racial moniker for a more privileged one, wouldn’t it? Because “boss” did historically refer to white colonists, leaving black Zambians with the subservient “boy.”
- Do I continue trying to teach “what is your name,” a phrase that grated my nerves in Chipembi, as an alternative to “chindeli, how are you?!”
- Are the two really that different? Is it simply the frequency that makes me grit my teeth and mutter “these fuuuuucking bra- little blessings”?
- Do I turn a cold shoulder and hope they understand my waspish passive aggression?
- Or do I simply turn, plaster a (hopefully minimally) annoyed smile on my face, and wave as if to say “yes, it is I: chindeli. Behold my magnificent sunburn!”
Double feature! In the interest of catching myself up, I’m posting a photo dump and highlight reel on the same day [waits for applause]. Thanks for being patient with me!
Cute and Flirty: I recently bought three ducks, and currently have two (the travel to my house from their farm was sadly too traumatic for one of them). I absolutely adore them! They live in a little pen between my house and garden, and I just love watching them waddle around. Are they as entertaining as chickens? Nah, but they’re more chill and don’t eat all the seeds I plant. Pictures coming soon!
Something I learned from my community: I attended a Food Preservation workshop in late November, and while I was finding a counterpart my host mom decided to show me her own Food Preservation techniques. One of my favorites was how to preserve extra mafu (leafy greens), which I have a huge problem with. With onion greens, she hangs them up to dry, and once they’re browned, she pounds them, adds salt, and you’ve got yourself some delicious onion powder! It’s amazing, simple, and delicious! Why am I here again?!
Something my community learned from me: During Grassroots Soccer with my Grade 5s, I decided to add some LGBT sensitization into the mix. I was nervous, because the existence of queer people in Zambia is adamantly denied in rural areas, much less gay rights. But, during a session about gender roles, we were discussing the difference between gender and sex, and I saw a window. We defined “sex” as “male or female” and gender as “man or woman.” Then, we talked about babies who are born with both male and female genitalia, and added “intersex” to our definition of sex, meaning both male and female. Then, we added “transgender” to the definition of gender, and I explained that while “inter” means “together,” “trans” means “going from one thing to another” (thanks mom for teaching me vocabulary from classical roots!). Then, when we went into gender roles, I explained that while gender is an identity, gender roles can change depending on culture, and I explained that in some American cultures you can still be a man or woman if you date people of the same sex. I was really proud of how respectful both my Zambian counterparts and my kids were during the lesson, and it led to a lot of questions about gender norms in different cultures (ex: the difference between men wearing skirts/kilts/etc., men performing in drag, and males identifying as women). It made me really happy to share that part of myself in a subtle way, and has motivated me to do more of this kind of work!
Shower Insights: I’ve been thinking a lot about what I joined Peace Corps for and what I originally wanted to get out of service. I noticed recently that I’m a lot angrier and reactionary than I used to be (I’m sure a couple people will laugh at that), and I don’t think that’s helping myself or my community. So, I’ve decided to check in with myself every month and ask myself “am I being the kind of person I wanted to be here? Am I doing the kinds of work I wanted to do? If not, is there anything I can do to change that? If I can’t change it, is it beneficial to me or my community to stay in Zambia?” When I tell people this, many get worried, but it’s been really helpful to assess where I am and where I want to be. And I think, because of it, I’m moving forward in a way I’ll be happy with looking back.
Something That Didn’t Totally Fail: I am finally done teaching Grassroots Soccer to my basic school’s Grade 5 class! We taught the program with the 5Bs this month, and I think it’s safe to say that having a class every weekday for two months was a little too much to for my two voluntary counterparts (who are both in college). Fortunately, the deputy headmaster filled in when needed, and the kids learned a lot. Phew!
Hero of the Month: Latrice Royale for providing a beautiful visual example of drag queens and blowing the minds of my kids!
Villain of the Month: Army ants! They took over my garden and I couldn’t weed anything without being swarmed and bit. These things will kill any animal and when they enter people’s homes people just move out until the ants have hunted everything. Bugs Life lied to me!
I have a crapton of catching up to do! Sorry for the absence of updates, which has turned my blog into a glorified Goodreads account. I’m currently unable to fix the formatting on WordPress’s app, but I’ll make everything look nice and pretty once I get to a computer. In the mean time, please enjoy these pictures from August through September without any context whatsoever (once again, the app isn’t great)!
I first saw this video when training to work with Parks and Recreation, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Development work, at it’s best, is a lot of teaching, so it’s been cropping up in my consciousness a lot more than I expected, and to be honest I’ve used a lot of her examples in almost ever single meeting/program I’ve had so far. I think it’s also pretty busy to become bitter and jaded* during your service for a lot of reasons, so the segment from A to B has looped around in my head quite a lo, and I once accidentally plagiarized part of it during a group chat discussion, only to realize after the fact!
Anyways, if you can’t tell I absolutely love this video and will just let it speak for itself.
*I want to make a cocktail called a “Bitter and Jaded” and so far the only two ingredients I can think of are bitters and absinthe. If anyone has any suggestions for possibly a better green liquor or anything that would pair well with bitters, hit me up!
“At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he broke their chains. Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race. But he broke their chains. He declared to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take away from him, no matter what their number, for his is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right. And he stood on the threshold of the freedom for which the blood of the centuries behind him had been spilled.”
Ayn Rand, Anthem
“You see men like Walter all over Chelsea and the Village, men who insist, at thirty or forty or older, that they have always been chipper and confident, powerful of body; that they’ve never been strange children, never taunted or despised […] if Richard were still himself, untouched by illness, they could be together right now, arguing about Walter Hardy and the quest for eternal youth, about how gay men have taken to imitating the boys who tortured them in high school.”
Michael Cunningham, The Hours