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!

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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.
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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: December 2017

Cute and Flirty: This month, I co-directed Camp GLOW for the Lundas! While at camp, in between sleep deprivation and emotional turmoil, I de-stressed by dancing with the kids. As far as I know, people in Zambia aren’t very aware that I don’t dance like a typical dude, but I think I was extra femme for this camp! Either way, I got a lot of compliments on my dancing (I think more for my enthusiasm than my actual skills).

Something I learned from my community:That people like me! They really like me! I had been very unsure of this, but we had a praise wall at GLOW and I got some very sweet messages in my box. It’s nice to hear from people that they see you trying! I was very touched.

Something my community learned from me:At GLOW (yes, all I did this month was GLOW) I led a mentor session on facilitation skills, and group sessions on alcohol abuse and goal setting/future planning. I’m probably most proud of the facilitation skills session out of anything I did in the whole camp, because it was so visible that mentors took it to heart and were practicing those skills with the girls. My alcohol abuse and future planning sessions all incorporated a small group component, and the mentors slayed in regards to facilitating discussions and encouraging participation!

Shower Insights:I made the difficult decision to leave CAT Crew, the HIV committee in was a part of since August. Essentially, I’ve been out of my site a ton, and I just felt like I wasn’t adequately able to do both roles (of committee member and volunteer) well. So I’m gone! Which (tying it back) I guess gives me more time to shower at my site, or at least attempt to repair it before it inevitable collapses into my toilet.

Something That Didn’t Totally Fail: A good friend and I co-directed the Lunda volunteers’ Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) this year! I for some reason thought that it would be fun to write the grant for and co-direct a camp, and I was wrong! That was definitively the most stressful thing I’ve done in Peace Corps, if not my whole life. Case and point, I went from smoking an occasional cigarette to blowing through two packs in two days and then weaning myself off through mass amounts of coffee (which I almost never drink normally). But you know what? The girls and mentors got a lot out of it, and I’m really proud of them! I’m also so grateful to Steph for running an awesome camp spite of me!

Hero of the Month:Mr. Business for holding down the fort and killing those mice while I’ve been away.

Villain of the Month:The Peace Corps assigned dentist who keeps telling me that a recent dental issue can be fixed with buying a new toothbrush. I have bought four different toothbrushes lady, it ain’t that.

What To Do When Kids Call Me “Chindeli”

  • 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!”