Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A look ahead.

I'd like to share with you what the next few hours, days, and weeks will entail for me.

In less than one hour from now I will board a bus from Philadelphia to New York City, with the ~70 other Peace Corps Trainees that I have met only today. We will leave from JFK at 11am, land in South Africa 15 hours later, and then take another plane 2 hours into Lusaka, Zambia- my new home. After landing we will be greeted by PC staff, given our shots, and then taken to stay at a government hostel. We will stay at the training site for a 3 day orientation, and then we will go out to volunteer sites, to stay for a few days with them in the huts. Thrown right into what our new lives will be like. Returning from their sites, back to our training post. These next 3 months of training I will learn the local language, be trained for my job, as well as go through cultural, health, safety, and bike (!) training. I will have little to no communication during this time. So.. write letters, and write often!! They will definitely help to get me through these next few months.

It is currently winter time in Zambia. Winter to them means ~45F at night and in the mornings, and ~75F during the day time.

My training site is located in Chipembi, about 150km north of the Capital of Lusaka. During my Community-based training, I will live individually with a host family. They will help to familiarize me to the local customs, language, and daily lifestyles. The conditions that my host family live in will be the same conditions that I will live in when I get my permanent site placement in October- mud hut, grass roof, no electricity or running water, no phones. I will also not have any internet access over the three months of training. I will take my language, cultural, and technical job training within my village.

Training is the most intense part. My training schedule, Monday through Friday, will look like:
8-12: Language
12-14: Lunch
14-17: Technical (job) Training
And, on Saturday mornings, additional language classes or cross-cultural trainings.

During training, 5 local languages will be taught: Bemba, Nyanja, Lunda, Mambwe, Tonga and Kaonde. The language I learn will determine where abouts in the country I will be placed for my 2 years of service, post-training. My swearing- in date, where I will become an official Peace Corps Volunteer, is Oct. 5th. On Oct 6, I will move out of my host family's hut, and into my own village and hut. Happy Birthday to me, I'm going to be completely alone in a new place.

That's most of the information I have for now. Again, I cannot stress enough how much receiving letters will mean to me. I will have no internet, no cellphone, no email. That will be my only form of communication. If you have any questions about my living/working conditions- anything at all- PLEASE write them to me and I will be happy to answer. :) I'd like to educate people back home on Zambia as much as I can.

"The Congress of the United States declares that it is the policy of the United States and the purpose of this Act to promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the people of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower, particularly in meeting the basic needs of those living in the poorest areas of such countries, and to help promote a better understanding of the American people on the part of the people served and a better understanding of other people on the part of the American people." -Peace Corps Act (22 U.S.C. sec. 2501)

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