Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Off to meet the Prince

I have so much to write about that has happened over the last two weeks, but in all honesty, I feel horrible right now and am much too lazy to do so. This is my last hour that I will have internet and computer access until we have Provincial meetings on Thanksgiving, however, I've spent the last 16 hours with a stomach virus, have not gotten any sleep, and have some of the worst pains throughout my body right now. Stick it out.

Last Friday I swore in as an official United States Peace Corps Zambia Volunteer. It was a beautiful ceremony hosted by the U.S. Ambassador at his gorgeous house. Many currently serving Volunteers, Host Country Nationals,  Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, leaders, Headmen and Headwomen, and other dignified guests were in attendance. They said some wonderful words about Paul Blum, and about how he would have made an amazing volunteer, something of which I am very sure of. We had an empty chair for him, with a rug that was made for his family from all of our left over chitenge material (from the outfits we wore for the ceremony), and a rose on top of that. They flew his life long friend out from the US to accept his certificate. And then we all proceeded to be announced and accept ours as well. It was a fun time, and something that I'd been looking forward to and working towards since the day I stepped foot in this country. I have completed my job training, as well as learned the language to a degree well enough for them to be confident that I will be safe and able in my new village.

So today is the day. Today is the day that I am posted to my new village. Where almost all the other volunteers were able to travel to their villages for a night and meet some of the people that reside there, I was never able to make it to my village due to Pauls passing away the day we were to go. Which is completely fine, and I know everything will work out, but I'm pretty nervous about all of this. One thing I'm nervous about is showing up with all of this stuff- me being a first generation volunteer, I have a lot of crap because I have to furnish the place- them seeing me with a cruiser full of things, and then me telling them that I have no money, I'm really not rich, and I have nothing to give them but knowledge and a good time. On the other side of being nervous, I'm so excited. I can't wait to meet my counterpart again, and I hope that he is able to guide me and introduce me to the people and my clinic. I can't wait to meet my new host father, Prince Charles, because he's been calling the PC staff non-stop asking where I am and when I'll get there! I'm glad that they are really excited to meet me, but because I'm tired and grumpy and not feeling well right now, I know that when I get to my village all I will want to do is unpack, get organized, and sleep and probably crap my brains out for the rest of the day. But really, I'll be surrounded by kids and people wanting to meet me, wanting to eat with me, wanting to sit and stare at their first crazy white person.

Yesterday I was able to post another new PCV, Joe, to his new village. That really helped me to see what it's going to be like when I get to mine. As we drove up in the cruiser, everyone was waving, then started coming over to his hut. We were instantly surrounded by so many people wanting to shake our hands and just watch, as well as a ton of people who wanted to help unload all of his things. They were really excited to have him, but they were also excited to have me because they thought I was staying! After we said good bye and I was leaving with the cruiser, the kids ran after us waving for quite some time. One family stopped the cruiser asking if they could have me as their Volunteer, everyone wants an American! I hope this is what my village is like today as well.

It is said that this next week is going to be the hardest week of my life. After being around other Americans and English speakers for the last 3 months, then spending over a week in a hotel or a house with electricity, running water, internet, and an actual city with roads and cars and shops, I'm going to go live in a mud hut, completely alone, back to the village life. They say that this first week is the first time I will experience what it's like to be [seemingly] completely alone. I'm going to feel like I have absolutely no one, especially if I don't have cell service at my site, and I won't be able to just go visit another American very simply. I don't know where my closest Volunteer neighbors live yet or how to contact them, so hopefully they seek me out. I don't know if my host family or anyone near me will speak English (my counterpart does, but he lives 30k away). But again, it's all going to be okay in the end. I'm going to make it through it, and I'm going to have a blast doing it.

I'm really happy where I'm at, I'm really happy to be able to have this experience, and I'm really happy that I'm able to share it. I'm amazed at how many of my friends, family, and complete strangers follow my blog. This is the 3rd goal of Peace Corps- to teach Americans about the people and culture of Zambia. I'm glad that I'm able to have an impact both here, back home, and in my friends lives across the world. It means a lot when you all write to me to say what you've learned; it means a lot when you ask how I'm doing and ask different questions about Zambia and my experience. It means a lot that you all care. Because all I've ever wanted is for people to care, and to care about others. It means a lot that I get to bridge that gap between America and Zambia, and connect you all to a culture, a people, and a lifestyle that many of you didn't know really still existed. Life is simple, and that's completely evident by how we live here in Zamtastic Zambia.

Get ready people of Kapichila Village- it's about to get crazy!!!! Cheers to the next two years!

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