Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This American Life

I've been back in the States for a little over one week now and the adjustment isn't nearly as complicated as I thought. After the longest day of travel, complete with a little boy blowing a whistle on the plane for 16 hours, I arrived home in St. Paul. Immediately Ruth and I headed to Punch Pizzeria, for a delicious Neapolitan pie and then home to sleep.

So, what am I doing? Well, luckily enough I already have a job- back at Bethel University. Not nearly as adventurous as life in Zambia, but it boasts a weekly paycheck and health insurance. Still applying for graduate schools, I have it narrowed to four: University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts, Michigan State University, and Colorado State. Wish me luck! And of course getting into the Christmas Spirit! It's not even Thanksgiving and Christmas commercialism is in full swing, but I can't pretend to not be a complete sucker for it all. If only the weather would cooperate, it's Minnesota and it's still 45 degrees and sunny everyday- where is the snow?! And of course helping Ruth plan our holiday trip to London- I'm just wanting to see Winston Churchill's house- because I'm a nerd.

Here's a few of my favorite American things:
Public Radio
Bon Appetite Magazine
Live Music (and constant access to my iTunes)
Driving- though I have a bit of trouble deciding which side of the road I should turn onto
Going to the library

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Work, Waterfalls, and Baboons

First, you should all check out my last entry- it would be fabulous if you could support camp GLOW. It's a fantastic opportunity for girls in my area!

Now, an update on Zambian life. I cannot believe how busy September has been and October looks just as crazy; but, I'm not complaining I love having things to finally work on. Every week I spend two days working at the Ministry of Education office here in Mkushi- this means I have to look semi-professional when I come into town which is no small feat when you're biking in the heat to work! I do a plethora of projects for whatever office needs extra assistance for the day. This can range from going out on school/ teacher monitoring visits to working in the records room filing things away. It's more of an office job then what you would think a Peace Corps Volunteer would be doing. I also am working with a teacher at an elementary school, we're having our first teacher workshop this Friday. I'm pretty excited, it's for all 20 schools in my area! I'll be talking about how to target struggles at their respective schools without focusing on things that require lots of money they don't have or wont be able to obtain. For example- how to improve teacher performance, student attendance, record organization, etc. These seem like small things but really are big issues for schools. This past term the school closest to me had more teacher absences during the term than students! Finally, I'm working with a community school 2 kilometers from my house that has a majority of orphan and vulnerable students result from parents who have HIV/AIDS in the area. The school is having problems raising money to pay their teacher and get books for the students. So, hopefully they'll be able to start an income generating activity such as selling vegetables from a garden, making honey, etc. It seems that most of the problems I find in the education system revolve around lack of training and funding. While Peace Corps can offer knowledge and training, there's no money that I can hand out- this makes my job hard since I am constantly trying to convey this to the people around me.

On a lighter note- I have also been continuing to explore around me. This past weekend a few volunteers and myself took a trip to a beautiful waterfalls about three hours from my site. It was amazing and we were able to swim in them, it was like a movie! We camped overnight and in the morning a pack of Baboons walked through our campsite! This was great to see since most of the wildlife in Africa has been hunted and killed so outside of game parks there's not too much to be seen.

In other news: It's definitely hot season! I can't believe how ridiculously hot it is during the afternoons- it's too hot to move, to eat, pretty much to function, I can't even concentrate enough to read a book. They tell me October will be worse then September but then in November it will start to rain! I'm not sure this will be much better! I've started to domesticate my little house- I have concrete to plaster my walls so then I can paint them and I've broken ground on my own little garden. I'm planning on planting some seeds from America such as green beans, cherry tomatoes and broccoli; but, if they don't work it's a good thing I live in the farming town so I can just buy seeds made for African soil. But, I'll keep you posted on my experiment!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Camp GLOW Donations Needed

I never thought I would be one to solicit donations from America but, this is what I'm doing. The camp will take place the last week in November so donations can be accepted through October.

The Central Province Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) Camp will educate and empower Zambian girls so that they can become positive role models in their communities. Many girls in rural Zambia face difficulties they are often unprepared to handle. Often times they are encouraged to marry and start families at young ages and few complete their high school education. Additionally, HIV/AIDS is a risk for many who have yet to be taught the ways it is transmitted and how to prevent it. Camp GLOW seeks to combat these issues by teaching both the girls and their teachers about assertiveness, self-esteem building, goal setting, facilitation skills, career planning, and the dangers and prevention of early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. Girls will leave the camp more empowered and capable of teaching others about what they learned so that many others from the community benefit. One specific way they will do this is by creating girls clubs at their schools after they return to their villages with the expectation that after one school year, every girl in the club will have learned all of the GLOW messages. The girls who attend the camp will be expected to facilitate all meetings with the assistance of the teacher that accompanied them at the camp. These girls clubs, made possible by the education taught at camp GLOW will mean that girls in 10 different communities to become empowered by learning the skills and knowledge necessary to attain their potential for a healthy and self reliant life.

If you're interested in donating:
1. Go to
2. Click on "Donations"
3. In Volunteer's Last Name search for "Nti" or Project Number "611-048"
4. Select Zambia, Camp Glow and insert amount of donation.

Any amount is more than helpful. Thank you!

Friday, September 4, 2009


Here's the link to my facebook photo album!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crossing the Street is Dangerous.

I've been in Lusaka for about a week now and slowly I'm adjusting back into city life. At first I was a bit overwhelmed with all the choices I could make: food, movies, and turning the lights on or off; but, now I'm loving it and exploring around. However, the drivers here are insane! Pedestrians DO NOT have the right away, even if you're in the cross walk and have the walk signal. I've had some close calls, all of which are exacerbated by the fact that I have not yet figured out which way I should look first when crossing! I saw Harry Potter this week and LOVED it, probably my favorite of all the movies!

While here I'm also doing some actual 'work.' We're attending a workshop on how to start planning projects in our schools and communities- this entails sitting in a classroom for about eight hours a day, after having copious amounts of free time in the village this is a bit tedious. It also has been nice to reconnect with those that I went through training with. After talking with others, I realize that I'm not nearly as rural as some others, which is surprising I realize. The fact that I'm able to get fresh fruit, cereal, chocolate, and yogurt in my area is a big deal and now I'm much more thankful for these small conviences.

I have no more exciting stories about village life at the moment so, I think it's time to update you all on my living situation since I don't believe I've ever gone into detail about the family I stay with. I stay with the headman, his wife and children (and their spouses). So, it's the headman, Patrick, and his wife, Katherine- they're pretty old in Zambian stardards, probably around 60. They have eight children but only some of them stay with them: Loveness, who's 21 and married with two of her own children; Brian; 20 and in high school (it's common to be older and still in school); Franny, 14; Dougy, 8; and the others live elsewhere. I don't know how a child decides to stay with their family or move away- I think it may just be dependant on the family. I spend most of my time with Loveness since she's closest to me in age and speaks fluent English. What do you do with a woman in the village? you may be wondering... Well, a lot of sitting on stools outside and chatting, although an equal amount of time is spent in silence as well Zambians are just fine with sitting and not talking which was awkward for me in the beginning. I also watch her work, the women here never stop going, in the mornings it's starting the fire, cooking food, washing clothes, working in the field and the afternoons entail cooking more food, cleaning around the compound (which yes, includes sweeping the dirt around the houses- something I still don't understand!), controlling the crazy children, and whatever else needs to be done. But the best part of spending time with the village women is the gossip they tell, translated into English via Loveness, I love to hear what's going on and who's doing what!

I was finally able to post pictures on facebook! I realize that not all of you have facebook, I apologize! But, I'm sure my parentals would be happy to pass some on to you via email if you ask nicely!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hail to the Chief!

This past week the honorable Chief Chitina came to stay with my village and because I stay with the village headman I was privy to a front row seat to all the happenings. The chief of course doesn't travel all by his lonesome but, I was amazed to see all the things and people, his posse as I have come to think of them: a counsel of 'advisors,' two armed guards, and a plethora of other people that I wasn't able to determine their function other than drink a lot of beer and play drums well into the night. The first day, the village hosted a 'town hall' meeting in which the villagers were able to voice their problems and concerns to the chief, the ones that the headman had not previously been able to resolve. The meeting was in Bemba so, I understood only a little but I was able to grasp one of the complaints: It seems that a man's goat had wandered into a woman's field and eaten some of her crop that she was selling; then, the woman proceeded to call the man some not nice names and the man thought the woman should be punished. What I found so amazing about this whole encounter was that it was not the woman who clearly lost money in not being able to sell the crops the goat ate that brought the complaint forward but, the man because he had a hurt ego! (This goat story might give you a brief understanding of my day to day happenings in the village.) I wasn't able to hear how the Chief resolved the matter because, by this time the Chiefs guards spotted me successfully hiding in the back of the crowd to not draw attention to myself and forced me to move to the front to sit in front of everyone next to the Chief on a chair; the only reason that I could discern for this happening was because I was White. So, I had to awkwardly sit in front of everyone for the remainder of the meeting and pretend that I understood what was happening in Bemba; it was strange to say the least! Other than the meeting there was good food, music and dancing. I still am unsure as to the actual role of Chiefs throughout Zambia since now everything is handled through the Zambian government. At one time, Chiefs did play an important role in creating laws and managing the people.

Through a little exploring, I was able to find a nice little swimming hole by my home! I am hoping that 1.) It doesn't dry up by hot season and 2.) There aren't any alligators/ crocodiles in it- I can't remember which we have here in Africa! Which reminds me of a story I heard recently about a woman who was doing her laundry in the river and was attacked and lost her arm! Therefore, I no longer do my laundry there. Which means I have to haul my water to my house to wash but, at least I still have two arms!

Next week, I head to Lusaka, I have big plans to eat a vanilla ice cream cone. Next week also surprisingly marks my six month anniversary in Zambia, I feel like there's still so much for me to learn and figure out; needless to say I haven't even really started my education work yet- that will come next month.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Brick and Thatched Roofed Chalet For One, Please!

I have successfully finished my three months of community entry! This means that I am technically a full fledged Peace Corps Volunteer, for real this time! Now, I can actually begin working on projects in my community and with schools, utilize the Provincial House every month, and GO ON VACATION! This leads me to the title of my blog; as I begin going through my travel guide book to Zambia I’ve noticed that many of the lodges you can stay at offer local accommodations of a “brick and thatched roofed chalet!” Coincidently, I believe that I’m already living in a brick and thatched roofed chalet; however, I don’t yet feel that I am on vacation. For my first Zambian adventure, Mary, Leann and I will be travelling to Lake Kariba in Southern Province for some fun in the sun at the end of August, following our two week training in Lusaka.

My little village is much the same. My sister, Loveness, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It was maybe the fastest birth ever, I was sitting with her at about 10:00am the day of and she was not in labor but, the baby was born at 2:00pm! I’ve been occupying my time visiting other volunteers in my province. A couple weeks ago it was another volunteer’s birthday so a few of us headed to his site for a celebration. It was a good time complete with cheeseburgers! And this past week, I decided to bike 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) to visit my friend Leann at her site. It was quite the bike trip, I am very glad I decided to bring saddle bags for my bike. From Leann’s we travelled to our friends Mary’s site which was an adventure in itself. Mary lives about 25 kilometers off of the main road. So, we got transport to that point and then thought we would be able to get a ride the 25 kilometers; however, we were not able to and ended up walking the entire way! Needless to say it was a long day.

Other Zambian Factoids: I lied in my last post when I said that Zambia will be in the World Cup. Apparently they still had one game against Algeria, which they lost dismally. I watched the game at a ‘sports bar’ here in Mkushi. It’s still cold season, and I realize I write about the weather every blog; BUT, it is ridiculously cold many days and now it’s also cloudy and windy too! And preparations for the chief are still underway in my village, we have a house built. He’s on a three month tour of all his villages and at the end there will be a large harvest celebration to signify the end of the harvest.

Finally, thanks for all the mail and packages! I have been pleasantly surprised at all of the things I’ve been receiving! And I promise to try very hard to get pictures of my life here online soon!