I have not been able to post for many reasons: lack of internet, feeling completely drained after training, and needing time for myself to reflect on the past week and a half. A lot of us feel like we have been here for years, though we only arrived on the 7th. A past volunteer told me that right now we will feel like we have been here for a year, but that after a year we would feel like only a week has passed.
Adjusting has not been entirely too easy. The new diet, environment, and strenuous language learning has got us pooped, in more ways than one. For a few days after arrival, we stayed in Dar es Salaam, the business capital of Tanzania. We met the Peace Corps staff and had the chance to visit PC Headquarters. We received a few vaccinations (btw, the meningococcal vaccine is NOT pleasant) and were given information about how training would look like moving forward. Last Sunday, we drove for about 4 and a half hours to a beautiful region called Morogoro. I am surrounded by gorgeous mountains that leave me in awe each time I look at them. In our few days in our training center prior to moving to our host families, so much happened. My friend Hana and I got lost around sunset one day and had to walk about a mile with two kind boys who knew where our center was. At one point, it started pouring rain and we both ended up laughing like crazy for putting ourselves in that situation. Any helpful Swahili phrases we had learned seemed to fly out the window. We eventually made it home though.
My class of volunteers if full of quirky and interesting people. We all joined Peace Corps at different points in our lives with different backgrounds, but we are brought together by the desire to help people and exchange cultures. I have loved being able to talk about my Filipino culture as well, not just to Tanzanian natives but also to my fellow volunteers who ask me questions about that part of me. I have made a few great friends, Jeremy and Lydia to name a couple. They keep me laughing constantly even though I have been suffering from an ongoing runny nose and cough.
On Thursday, we moved to our host families. My family consists of a mama, a baba (dad), and two dadas (sisters). I have a relatively young family, my mama is only 27 years old. No one in my family speaks a word of English, though one of my dadas will start to learn soon in school. Due to my limited Swahili, it has been difficult trying to communicate with them, even about the most basic things. Yesterday, after expressing that I would like to learn with them even outside of my school, they seemed eager to help. My dada, Eliza, helped me put together some Swahili sentences and only laughed a little bit when I pronounced them incorrectly. A Peace Corps staff member told me I am lucky to be placed with a family that only speaks Swahili. It will push me to study harder and continue learning outside of training to pick up the language faster. I hope she was right!
Overall, I have been going through a whirlwind of emotions. Sunday is the day we are given to rest, clean, and spend time with our families. After feeling overwhelmed from the events of the past week, it has been nice to sit down and do some laundry (by hand) with my mama and dada. Our neighbors helped to teach me too, while the kids stared at me and played with my hair.
Until the next time that I have internet,
Shawntel (or Telly, since it’s difficult for my host family to say my name)