My Usual Schedule During Term Break

Now that the school term is over, I’ve been trying to get a move on some personal projects because fire cold season begins in full swing! As much as I’ve loved being at my site consistently these past few months, I’ll unfortunately be out a decent amount coming up, so there’s even more of a time crunch!

I know people usually ask me what I do on the daily, so I’ve attempted to create a daily schedule below! Sometimes I’m super productive and busy; sometimes I’m extremely, unjustifiably lazy. Sometimes I spend all day with people; sometimes I don’t talk to anyone for almost the whole day. It really depends! But I’d say this is fairly accurate.

06:30 – 07:00

Wake up, check my phone for messages, stretch derp around on the internet.

07:00 – 07:30

Get up, let the ducks out, feed them, fetch water for my plants and water them.

07:30 – 08:00

Reading and breakfast time!

08:00 – 10:00

Mulching!

10:00 – 12:00

Free time to do whatever happens to pop up (playing with kids if they come over, harvesting beans, reading, etc.). This is also the time I’d make any work-related phone calls.

12:00 – 13:00

Lunch! I usually sit in my house or under my veranda and (surprise!) either read or derp around on my phone.

13:00 – 15:00

Miscellaneous gardening! One day i re-potted my tree seedling, one day I added manure to my demo field and changed the duck pond water, another day I weeded my flower beds. That kinda stuff.

15:00 – 17:00

This is the prime time for meetings, so I try to get out of my house and socialize! Sometimes the meetings are serious planning meetings, sometimes just hanging out with friends.

17:00 – 18:00

Socializing with the family and bathing!

18:00 – 19:00

Dinner plus podcasts.

19:00 – 21:00

Reading or derping on my phone

21:00 – 06:30

Sleep!

Advertisements
Status

Exciting News!

I’m very excited to announce that (after much patient waiting) my grant is online! My friend and fellow PCV Annikki and I are sending 22 men and women from our respective communities to attend a wonderful 5-day agricultural training in Lusaka at the end of July! Mwinilunga and Ikelenge Districts are some of the most disinvested areas in ZambiExciting a, so this training will make a huge, immediate impact in people’s lives.

Unfortunately, Peace Corps Zambia no longer has the funds to support an agricultural grant, so we will be relying on sponsorships and goodwill from our friends and family back home to make this possible! It costs roughly $450 USD to send each person, which is an unfathomable amount in Zambia. Even a relatively small amount of support could go a long way in making a difference in people’s lives.

I’m going to be posting weekly photos of the people who are attending from both mine and Annikki’s communities, and in the mean time please feel free to like/comment/share! I really appreciate it.

Integration is…

  • deciding that, actually, you’ll sit and read outside today.
  • having a three year-old cry because you have to go teach and can’t play right now.
  • learning to give a formal handshake to a passing neighbor on a bike without stoping.
  • sitting with teachers and shooting the breeze without needing to rush home.
  • a “how are you?” text from a friend.
  • making the conscious decision to be present and content in where you are physically and mentally.
Image

Nshindwa!

Zambia has some pretty dope fruit, specifically Northwestern Province and specifically Ikelenge District if I do say so myself (I mean, we’re the land of the pineapples!). But, some of our best fruits aren’t the deliciously sweet pineapples that come around twice a year, or the mouth watering mangoes that pop up at the beginning of rainy season. Oh no, one of the best fruits you probably haven’t heard of: nshindwa.

Other names for nshindwa are “Seed of Heaven” or “Afromum,” and there are several different varieties all over the African continent. They appear right at the end of rainy season (now!) and come from a plant closely related and resembling to ginger, a plant that I use to gauge soil quality due to its love of acidic soil. To give you an idea of what nshindwa tastes like, there’s a part in The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis where two of the main characters plant a piece of toffee in the ground of the still-forming world of Narnia.

The fruit was delicious; not exactly like toffee – softer for one thing, and juicy – but like fruit which reminded one of toffee.

That is how nshindwa tastes, except with ginger instead of toffee! It was a little weird getting used to when I first tried it, because American ginger products do not have the strong flavor of actual ginger. But now I’m obsessed!

Anyways, here’s a step by step instruction on how to eat nshindwa:

Step One: Locate the Nshindwa

Step Two: Grab That Bad Boy Before the Kids See!

Step 3: Bite to Crack the Shell (Peel? IDK, the Outside Part)

Step 4: Bask in the Glory of those Seeds of Heaven

Step 5: Dig In, But Be Classy About It!

Side Note: I normally don’t look like this! This is my gardening look! Zambians normally bathe twice a day and take a lot of pride in their appearance (when they are not in the fields) and while I’m not nearly that hygienic, I do bathe every day, and try to look nice when I’m not puttering around my house!

I’m wearing my gardening clothes and covered in dirt because I’m currently trying to mulch a termite mound around my house (yes, the huge hill behind me in those photos is not even the top level of a termite mound). Termites also like acidic soil, hence the abundance of nshindwa! Below is a picture of me getting ready to bathe. I look super cute.

Highlight Reel: November 2017

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!

Highlight Reel: October 2017 

I’m back at it again with the white Vans! Wait, that’s not a thing people joke about anymore? Vine isn’t even a website now?? I’m gonna be highly out of touch when I get back so would appreciate a “two year wrap up” song/PowerPoint combo a la Liz Lemon when Avery Jessup returned from North Korea. Wait, 30 Rock isn’t on Netflix anymore?! Jesus. 

Cute and Flirty: Comfort, a little boy across the street has been coming over to my house to color for the past week or so. He’s two, so he’s only slightly better at Lunda than me, and it’s perfect! Two is just such a cute age and we sit and color for a bit before I walk him back to him mom. It’s adorable and I love it.

Something I learned from my community: Several community members have started showing me the different flora of my region, along with the different medicinal properties. The ugly weed growing from the demolished house next door? A highly nutritious leafy green! That strange, almost cactus looking tree? An anti-coagulant! And here I thought I was the one teaching them about agroforestry plants. One you start noticing this stuff you realize just how much life there is and how important and overlooked it is. It also has been a good wake up call for me as an extension agent that the solution to a problem isn’t always (or ever) introducing a new species, and that there are plenty of amazing endemic things around me if I’m just patient and listen.

Something my community learned from me: This guy just finished GRS! Me, my HIV counterpart Regan, and my translator Paddi had 27 kids graduate from the Grassroots Soccer program we started the beginning of the month with the 5th graders of my basic school’s 5A class. We tried to do a session every weekday morning, which didn’t always work out, but I am so so proud of everyone, especially my kids. We started with the second class of 5th graders at the end of this month, and you could tell by their participation that the first class had been teaching them about HIV already. Not going to lie, I got a little choked up. 

Shower Insights: I need to eat more. I absolutely hate lighting my brazier multiple times a day and thus have pretty much just been having soup packets in the morning from my thermos, some combo of fruit and peanut butter for lunch, and then cooking for dinner. I’ve feel fine, Mom! But I’m not doing great in the self esteem department, which led me to grow a mustache, but that’s another story. Anyways, I remembered that cereal is a thing, and realized I can mix baby formula in my powdered milk, and it’s changed my life. I love you, Kellogg’s™ Corn Flakes. I promise never to leave you until I get my hands on Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch.

Something That Didn’t Totally Fail: Two counterparts and I have been trying to get a bi-monthly beekeeping/Men as Partners study group going, and dang y’all getting adult men to talk about any health, much less sexual health, is really hard! But the commitment level of my counterparts has been really relieving and it’s nice having people pushing with me, even when it feels like I’m pulling teeth! We’re working through it! 

Hero(es) of the Month: [Redacted] Basic School’s Grade 5A class! So proud of you!

Villain of the Month: Time! There is never enough time in the day. Also, mortality is inevitable, but that’s a whole other level of worry.