Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Monday, September 10, 2012
School will be starting soon here and I have already met a number of teachers I will be working with thanks to my counter-part , Igziharia. Her name means "chosen by God" and she is the vice director of my school. I can not tell you how happy I was to hear that my counter-part is a woman with authority. It is very difficult to find a woman with a higher position in administration but throughout the country there are efforts to make gender issues a top priority. I am more excited for school to start mostly because I will finally be getting to work but also because since I haven't really had a steady schedule I am starting to feel a bit anxious. We have had a great time getting to know Mek'elle, meeting new friends, and getting used to living here but now that we are more comfortable I want to move on to something more substantial. I can't read books all day, every day.
With down time comes the reflection period. The last 12 weeks have been a whirlwind experience and I can't help but also look at the last two years leading up to this time in our lives. I came back from Zambia, got married, got a job, and began the Peace Corps process all over again. We really didn't know how tough it would be or how easy. We just knew that the path was in front of us and we had to keep going. During that time I met some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure to encounter and I took for granted the time we shared. Some of my favorite memories are going to the St. Augustine Beach and eating delicious burgers or relaxing by the Enclave Pool and grilling out on "Sunday Funday". Fourth of July 2011 was probably one of the best days I have ever had. We played sand volleyball, grilled burgers and hot dogs, and lounged by the pool with everyone we cared about. I went through two football seasons at the University of Florida. I was no longer going to the games and cheering alongside my fellow students. I was serving them. And I never realized how rowdy people can get when your on the other side. Game Days weren't the only horrors. Generally, every night at Salty Dog was a reason to bash the student body. After every 6 hour shift my legs were tired, my pants were filthy, and I had at one point yelled at one individual or taken a step further and kicked them out of the bar. I also had the money I needed to help pay the rent and friends that I could commiserate with after hours.There are too many stories from that hole in the wall that I could write a very hilarious and terrifying novel. I had a great job, that although I sometimes loathed, made me a more confident and able person.
Thinking about the past gives me a whole new appreciation for where we are now, what we went through to get here, and what we will go through by staying here. I miss my friends and family but I know Peace Corps Ethiopia will add to our lives just as those last two years did. For now, we are setting up for a crazy two years. At least this time around we know it will be nuts.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Right now I am sitting in an internet cafe/internet bet in Mek'elle, Ethiopia where I and my husband, Scott now live. We are TEFL volunteers in the Peace Corps and we begin working in our respective schools on September 13th or Meskerem 3rd if you follow the Ethiopian (Gregorian) calendar. Our main job is to improve English language speaking and writing skills for the teachers of our schools. My primary cluster head is called Adi Haki while Scott's is called Myweni.
We have now been in Ethiopia for three months and two days. Our first 10 weeks were dedicated to our Pre-Service Training to become volunteers and the majority of training was in the southern Arsi region of Ethiopia. My husband and I experienced a wonderful host family in Bekoji, a town renowned for their Olympic runners. In the 2012 Olympics in London a woman from Bekoji won the gold medal in the Marathon. That day was very special, not only for us because we were there, but obviously for the people of Bekoji. Their pride was something to be marveled and admired. Our family consisted of our host mother, Tigist (meaning "patience") and her husband Ato Solomon, a very successful businessman. We had four host sisters all of which were bright, charming, and energetic girls that we miss very dearly.
Along with our adopted family in Bekoji we have encountered some wonderful and genuine people here that we can now call friends. I have to give a shout out to our self-titled "Bekoji Bosses". Rachel, Nathan, Linda, Brett Chandler, Carlin, Christine, Shauntea, and Nzingha. I know that the connections we made in that small and beautiful town will last a lifetime.
During our time in Bekoji we also experienced ups and downs. Scott was inflicted with Typhoid which he got over fairly well and in a record three days. We have also had to deal with the constant stares of being a foreigner. Some children will harass us for money but most of the time the do not know what they are saying because they think "money" = "foreigner" so patience has become a constant companion. But mostly the people here are generous and hospitable. They want to know about us and why we have come to their country. All are pleasantly surprised when we greet them in the native language of Tigray, which is Tigrinya, and tell them that we are teachers that will serve here for two years.
The training itself was rigorous and full of information. We learned about culture, food, language, safety and security, traveling, history,development, and anything else Peace Corps could jam into our brains. Language classes were sometimes all day with tea breaks in between and then some days we had cultural sessions with our wonderfully brilliant Language and Cultural Facilitators. We had Medical trainings and administrative sessions while getting to know our way around and learning to live a completely different lifestyle. Needless to say but PST is an animal in and of itself. One that I am grateful to have gone through but equally grateful to be done with. (And I did it twice!)
Now we live in a very comfortable and safe neighborhood in the capital of Tigray. We enjoy spending our time cooking and meeting new people and just getting used to life here. So far it has been a good transition after training and we are just trying to process all that we have been through during our first three months. We look forward to school starting and thinking about all that we can accomplish personally and professionally in the two years we will be living here. More to come soon! Miss you America.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
After thoughts on arrival and subsequent journeying-
The flight was long but in retrospect went by very quickly like everything else seems to be going. It has been more than two weeks and it feels like we have done so much.
Zambians are the friendliest people I have ever met. (sorry Southerners) Everyone is constantly smiling and greeting one another. Our first week was not short of greetings in the three major languages: Bemba, Nyanja, and Kikaonde.
My fellow trainees are some of the most interesting and loveable people. In short I am in love with my intake and we all get along swimmingly. So no worries on the making friends front. The Peace Corps is a special group of people and we thrive on the camaraderie. I am very proud to be a part of this amazing group of people.
We play football all the time when we aren’t in class and when it isn’t pouring or so humid outside we can’t breathe. You would think during the rainy season some cool weather would come in once and a while. The weather here sometimes makes me want to peel my skin off. And I am from Florida!
The language I am learning is Kikaonde which is spoken in the North Western Province of Zambia. Our group has come to calling ourselves the NWA ( the North Western Alliance). We wear bicycle gloves to show our allegiance.
The LIFE Program is a lot more than I thought it would be. We have a wide range of projects we can work on from school clubs to tree nursery. I am excited to be posted and see what my community wants and is willing to work on with me.
Life here really is not bad. I live in a clay and mud hut with a grass roof and I sleep sort of soundly. By night I study with my head lamp inside my mosquito net covered mattress that is laid skillfully on the floor. In between studying I text Scott to see how his day is starting off. The time difference does not see to be an issue.
My host mother’s name is Ba Rona Tembo or as I call her “bamaama”. I have three siblings- Joshua, Cayonmbo, and Combe. They are very well mannered and love all my little gadgets. Joshua giggled with glee over my camera. (Pictures will be posted soon.) Last Sunday on my short wave radio we listened to the BBC and heard some 1930’s Latin music.
I am loving Africa but I do find myself thinking frequently of home. So let me know how you are. Love you guys.
Monday, January 25, 2010
The Peace Corps is the job I want. For me it is my dream job. I am excited and terrified at the same time. But I think this would not be worth anything if it did not frighten me to the point of wanting to piss myself.
As of now I am spending as much time with family, friends, and Scott as I can. The only reasonable thing I feel I can do is take everyday as it comes. This includes being in Zambia as well. Flexibility will be my only ally in the coming months.
My job is with the LIFE (Linking Income, Food, and the Environment) Program. I am told by some volunteers already serving in Zambia that this program is grade "A". I will get to work with children and teachers as well as farmers and environmentalists. Possibilities for learning seem endless, almost as if two years is not enough.
For now I have nothing of interest to talk about. My mind is all over the place. Life is just exciting right now.