I’m slacking on this whole blog thing but now that I have a few minutes to pumzika (relax) I thought I could write just a little bit! I have almost been here for a whole month and while I feel like the new year started yesterday, I also feel like I have been here for so long. Pre-Service Training is so jam-packed with lessons. Sometimes it feels like I never got over my jet lag and I am perpetually tired. Nonetheless, this experience is going well I think. I am not sure what my expectations were coming in, or if I had any to begin with. However, I do have faith that Peace Corps’ training structure is this way for a reason. We have so much to learn in three months!!
My homestay family and I have definitely become closer. I like them a lot and think they would be great host parents to future trainees. The language barrier was a huge issue, and still is sometimes, but I am learning slowly how to express myself. My most used phrases are: 1. Asante, nimeshiba (Thank you, I’m full) 2. Sema tena pole pole (Say it again slowly) 3. Shikamoo!!! (a respectful greeting to an elder). I pretty much shikamoo every adult I meet and I love to get shikamoo’d (Peace Corps trainees use this as a verb lol) by younger kids. Still however, times can get tough and I will have many ups and downs these next 26 months. What I miss most is my boyfriend, brothers and sisters, and pavement (the bumpy road on a daladala (bus) is not pleasant on the butt). Thankfully, I have had a little bit of cell service and have been able to contact home.
A typical day so far if I have a CBT (community-based training) day will be waking up at 6:15 am (12:15 in Tanzania, yes, telling time is different here and I am STRUGGLING). I get ready for class and use my choo (toilet). Squatting isn’t too bad if you’re not ill. By the time I am done getting ready, my host mama will have chakula cha asubuhi (breakfast) ready. The first week it was basically a three course meal every morning. I felt bad leaving food on my plate but I just don’t have an appetite that early. She seems to be very observant though and has started to put less food. She also noticed I really like Tanzanian donuts, so she will usually give me two of those with two hard boiled eggs. All of that plus some of her ginger chai hold me over for the long day ahead. I then will walk to my class, which is only a 5 minute walk but can take longer if I stop to greet people. My group of 4 and my teacher Pauly meet at Gwen’s house, a trainee in my group. Her family used to own a small shop and for the meantime we converted it into a classroom. Once we get to class, it is pretty much Swahili training the entire day, with two breaks for chai and chakula cha mchana (lunch). I think my CBT teacher is excellent in his approach to teaching us. He pushes us to learn fast and efficiently. Sometimes I feel like it is TOO much, but at this point I will take all the Kiswahili I can get. I usually will arrive home between 5 to 6 pm and rest for a bit before spending time with my host fam. After an hour or so I go to my choo to shower. I really enjoy bucket bathing, even though I recently found out my shower has been working this entire time! I was surprised to see on the first day that my family eats dinner on the floor. We lay out a colorful straw mat and sit in a circle with a large platter of rice or ugali. Small side dishes are there for us to dip our food in. Fruit is plentiful. At first, I wasn’t too fond of eating off the same plate. After some getting used to I am starting to like it (as long as everyone has squeaky clean hands!). The past few days I have been watching my family cook their meals and soon I want to try on my own. I usually tell them goodnight about half an hour after dinner and go to my room to study, talk to loved ones, and rub mosquito repellant everywhere. It only takes me about 2 minutes to pass out asleep, and I wake up at 6:30 am to do it all again. On some training days, I wake up a little earlier because all the volunteers meet at a center. Recently, we’ve been split up into our sectors and have received technical training (mine is health). Center days are my favorite because not only do I get to see all of my friends but I also get to drink pineapple soda during soda break!!
Well, that is enough blabbing for now. I have my first written exam tomorrow as a checkpoint for how we’re doing in our Kiswahili. Need to cram some noun classes in my head before I fall asleep. Usiku mwema everyone! I’d love to hear from all of you. ❤ Check out my latest Youtube vid below: