Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
1. View from the roof of my apartment...taken by roommate extraordinaire Charlie Shoemaker (you all should check out his website too:
2. Grassroot Soccer, the AMAZING organization that I work for, is being featured in Sports Illustrated!! Check out this article (pg. 3)
3. If you happen to be in Albuquerque this week (Friday September 23rd) there will be some Zambian Kings that you could meet. Small Small small World.
Anthropology Department Welcomes African Kings from Zambia
Tribal Cultural Exchange fosters learning, preservation of cultural traditions and promoting economic development by working with tribal groups and educators to create a healthy, advanced and educationally enriched community in isolated villages, thereby, allowing for a breakthrough in future community and economic development. The educational goal is to create student exchange programs with the University of New Mexico.”
Faculty and students are invited to meet earlier from 2:15–2:45 with The African Kings in rm. 238 in Anthropology Building 11.
For more information, contact the Anthropology Department at (505) 277‑4524.
Maybe this man will be there...
4. New friends and a Saturday in the sun.
5. Go Springboks! South Africa plays in their 3rd World Cup Rugby Match today...bring that trophy home!
Miss you all!
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Thank you to the house that welcomed us in with all of its quirks. From the jenga-like floor to the standard house inhabitants (mice, cockroaches, maggots, wall spiders, geckos, etc.) I have loved your charm, your sounds, the projector screen and most of all the fact that you were never ever more than 10 steps from the office.
Thank you to the yard that evolved from dirt to grass and a garden in a short year. To the avocado, mango, lemon, papaya, and banana tress…without you, I am not sure how I would have eaten. Thank you to the hammock that provided hours of countless thought, solace, and appreciation for then web of nature that exists right behind my home. Thank you for the countless braais and events that brought many people together and provided space for shenanigans.
To Kamba. Dog, I love love love you and if I could I would cart you all the way back to the states. I love waking up to you and am so glad that you did not kill yourself in the first few months here. Be good, try not to bark so much at night, and keep working on your tricks.
To Ping…well, you’ve grown on me and I hope that one of the new interns has a deep appreciation and love for cats. Be well, keep killing mice, and please learn to run away from Kamba.
Thank you to the office. While half of my time was spent outside the walls, the walls provided rounds of laughter, space for conversation, and a desk in a back room that I could call my own.
Thank you to the incredible team of individuals who I’ve worked AND played with. I don’t think I have ever met a more impassioned group of people. To each of you, thank you for teaching me what caring means, for always asking difficult questions, for laughing and dancing often, and for including me in your lives…it has been a rare privilege to be welcomed into your homes and your lives. Thank you!
To the coaches, thank you for humoring my Nyanja, for including me in energizers, for listening to what I had to say, for 3a.m. phone calls, for setting up tents, for eating the meat pies, and for committing to your communities and to kids. Your impact is astounding and why it was worth while to wake up.
To the interns (Marissa, Mike, and Max). Gosh, what to say. North, South, East, AND West. We did it guys…the perfect balance, the perfect crew. I think that this place has left it’s mark on us but YOU ALL have left your marks on me. Thank you for the support, conversation, meals, movies, enthusiasm, and willingness to try new things. I will miss you all terribly- but I’ll see you all soon J
I love my ZAMFAM (Marissa, Spiak, Zales, Tommy, Max, Lena). You all are amazing! You inspire me to work harder and I definitely would not understand or appreciate this place as much if it hadn’t been for all of you. Your advice, love of life, and work ethic is contagious. Can’t wait to run into you all again.
To my friends, you ALL should know who you are. Memories are insane and incredible and bring swells of laughter and tears when I think about all the adventures, conversations, and fun that we’ve had. I cannot wait to see where each of your lives take you…I know they are going amazing places. Thanks for including me in your lives, you have made a lasting impression and I don’t think that I would have survived the wildlife, the vacations, or crossing the street with out you. So much love…miss you all!
To the Tuesday vegetable market, my favorite space in all of Lusaka. Thank you for the color, the energy, and the fresh food. I hope that all the mama’s stay safe, the guard boys out of trouble, and that the land continues to produce, and the people continue to purchase. I found peace and inspiration each time I stepped through the threshold so, thank you.
Vegas, Alpha, R&G events, and Polo…thank you for teaching me to dance. I now believe that muzungus can dance too!
To Wednesday afternoon and weekend frisbee...go big or go home. I've never felt so alive in my life! Hours of conversation, intense games, and quirky cuts and throws pepper my memories of the Polo fields, the American school, and in it's final days the horse arena under the lights. Cannot wait to see you all soon...keep playing, t-rex points, and Mr. Jones....go long!
To all those who helped to support me whether through funding, prayers, thoughts, notes, or simply by talking about Grassroot Soccer. I need you all to know that my life is changed because of you and I cannot thank you enough!
To Grassroot Soccer, for not only giving me the opportunity to come here and to continue! My life will never be the same because of this.
For those of you who do not know…I will be back in the US for about a month. After that month I will be moving to Cape Town, South Africa to continue working for Grassroot Soccer in our Global Office. I will be helping out with the monitoring and evaluation side of all of our programs and a little bit of curriculum development. I am thrilled, excited, nervous, and all around blessed.
Tizaonana Zambia…not Milo (tomorrow) but maybe sometime soon.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
GRS trains coaches (peer educators) in what we call ToCs (Training of Coaches), six days of intensive information. We teach them the entire 10 session curriculum, explain to them what their role is as a coach, and cover all manner of facilitation skills. Not to mention the fact that we have to train them in how to do home-visits, referrals, and explain how our office supports their activity.Just to briefly list and elaborate on what exactly it is that our coaches do; they implement a 10 hour curriculum (sometimes they do it 2 times a week, other times every day), they conduct home-visits to each one of their 40 participants homes in order to encourage parents to sign a consent form allowing their child to be tested for HIV, they attend and assist graduations making sure that their kids are shuffled through the testing process with a caring adult figure at hand, they also deliver results to parents, conducting a second home-visit that ensures that the testing information gets back into the hands of the guardian. If they are a coach-counselor then they accompany any HIV positive youth to their appointments at a pediatric clinic. In summary, they care more than any individuals that I have ever met!
With a new crew of stellar individuals we, GRS, say hello to a new year of ambition, trails, and successes.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
A few weeks ago on a lazy Sunday we decided to take a drive. It is not often that you are able to jet out of the city in a 4x4 and explore the roads. Spiak, Jamie, Max, and myself encountered a village, an endless road, and a priceless sunset. It was one of those haphazardous encounters that epitomized the beauty of the sun and left you feeling grateful for its provision and for friends; romanticized in a way. Photos are a sad attempt at justice because it would take the wind blowing through your hair and chickens running across the street to complete the ambiance surrounding the 3x5.
Driving briefly outside of the city suddenly you are in the bush. There is a field and trees and brush and no sign of the life that you know is sunken behind the fascade. A sense of freedom is paired with the perspective of distance and I have to say it is a comforting feeling. I miss the ability to see for great distances, to get up high and marvel at all that you can’t see on a normal basis. Lusaka, although at a decent altitude, lacks vertical dimension. A few hills and skyscrapers are an attempt at relief. Although I would trek warily up the skyscrapers, they are old and barbaric looking- reminiscent of an uncreative time.
The weather is changing. Fall is here, making the light all the more powerful and my spirits a bit melancholy. I have woken up on multiple mornings thinking that it is time to get up for school, time to walk on a campus, time to study. Maybe this means I am craving a classroom? (food for thought). More than anything I find that the shift to crisp morning air and an encouraging sun has given clarity to so many things in my life.
A clear thankfulness for friends has cleansed my impatience and centered me on small joys. The brief emails received, a hug, a longing memory, they all compile into a sentiment of being the luckiest girl in the world. So to all you reading, thank you for that. Similarly the purity of the season has allowed me to reach a new level of curiosity towards Zambia. As time passes I feel that we become stagnant and complacent and for whatever reason I feel jolted back into wonderment.
I wonder about what I have missed and what I will not have chance to learn about Zambia. When you live somewhere you often forget to sink your teeth into things and ask questions because habits are the way they are. But often that is how you gauge what you know- by asking questions. This year has taught me that. To ask questions of what you already know and pursue deeper understanding. I’ve tried to initiate curiosity in all pieces of my life…what do I want to do next, what do I think about this, that, and the other. Perhaps it is a sign of maturity and growth but really what I appreciate most about this self-realization is the fact that I am on a path and I have no idea what each moment will bring to that path…what the next brick I lay down will be, not even I know.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Returning to Lusaka it was time to see the heart. The chaos, the trash, poverty, plastic bags, basically where the 3 million (per 2010 census) Lusaktonians (made that one up) are during the day. We found them…buying material and shoes, shouting and selling all of the nick-naks and any piece that they could get their hands on.
We explored the shops at city market, walking by a movie store, a copy shop, and some women selling cow hearts. A conglomeration of anything and everything posed at the west end of town. Walking the streets of town, something I don’t do often, allows you to see a side of Zambia often missed. Lusaka is a sprawling city and town center is not the meat and pride of the city. Perhaps it once was but currently it is a piece of a greater puzzle, but to sift through the pieces time and a guide are helpful in order to appreciate the final product. We walked through the streets. Observed business men and women heading to meetings, observed lines of people waiting to get their voter registration cards, and encountered the mass exodus across the bridge that steadily occurs from 8:00 till 17:00 daily.
Hitting a few hot spots within the city, Sugar Bush and Zam Bikes, my parents got a better feel for the entrepreneurial opportunities of the city. Early mornings and afternoons were spent reading and relaxing on the porch.
Nshima. Finally my parents were able to try a bit of nshima. Zambian food made by a Zambian, Moomba. An evening meal with a family of Zambians that allowed us to try vegetables, ground nuts, chicken, ocra, beans, and gravy with nshima. A well rounded meal…
Following me to work, my parents were able to enter Matero, the city within the city. The compound of horrible roads but beautiful schools, manily because of the kids who attend them, sometimes. We drove around and visited coaches that were finishing up an intervention explaining the biology of HIV. How it attacks your immune system, what the immune system does, etc.
The following day mom and dad left. Headed back to NM and to life there. I went back to work. An extremely unproductive and odd day for me…the weekend has been spent regrouping. Finally there, I think.
Till next time.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Early risers. Off to the border crossing, what a scandal that is, not for us but for the truckers that wait weeks for the two ferries to cart them across the river. Lines of trucks formed miniature communities of people- stoves burning, chairs popped up- perhaps the first trailer park? I don’t mean that negatively, the community was unassuming and raw. My heart goes out to those weary drivers waiting for a boat to cross them over. Ever think of building a bridge? Hmmm, a brief insight into the politics and stalemates marking Africa’s infrastructure.
Being up close and personal with nature in the Chobe National Park impacted me inCross the border was a safari vehicle, Leanord, and what turned out to be an astonishing interaction with natural beauty. Our camping safari consisted of 3 days and 2 evening. Camping out in the bush at a luxiourious camp, set-up for you upon arrival, complete with think mattress-like mats, pillows, comforters, a cook, wine, marshmellows, a shower, a bathroom- pure convenience. To complete the safari package, 2 river cruises, and 4 safari drives.
Our first day we spotted hippos, baboons, spider monkeys, water monitor lizards, a slew of birds and insects, crocodiles, elephants, giraffe, lions (male, female, juvenile), cubs, cape buffalo, impala, kudu, etc. the list goes on and on and there is no way that I could ever recount bit by bit the moments of this trip. What I can say is that I saw much more than I ever expected- see pictures below.Being up close and personal with nature in Chobe National Park impacted me in multiple ways…you see the lion king and you visit the zoo, but you never imagine that animals mingle, co-exist, and never-ever look themselves in the mirror. To not know what you look like, can you imagine? Most likely there is a certain freedom found within this ignorance.
We were in a group with a couple from Sweden, a young girl from Holland, and our guide, shall we call him, Master Leanord. Master Leanord was, is, and will always be a bush baby, a true believer and master of the African bush, especially Chobe. He knew the prides of lions by look and feel, understood the personalities and dynamic of each miniature ecosystem and character roving through the terrain. He would narrate the activities of the animals with such ease, as if he had written a script for the animals and they were just following cues. He had the eyes of a hawk or a lion or whatever animal he was looking for and it was obvious that observing years of animal movements and interactions had left him with a fantastic wealth of knowledge.
Did you know that elephant trunks have 4,500 muscles and that most elephants are either right or left trunk dominant? Did you know that a black and white saber can somehow magically disappear into the green and yellow stripped reeds? Did you know that the black tufts on the back of an impala’s heels give off a scent that allows the herd to relocate each other after being separated? Did you know…that is the epitome of Master Leanord.
The elephants and a honey badger visited us, separately, on the two nights that we were in camp. A true proximity. The safari of a lifetime.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
After a brief hiatus I am back. I apologize for the static as you have all been waiting for an update- some indication that I am still conducting myself in a respectable manner. Well I am pleased to say, I have been…here’s what has been up- or I guess for all you readers down, if we consider the geography of it all.
About 2 weeks ago my parents arrived from New Mexico- land of the green and red chile!!! A much anticipated visit they walked through the gate and my worlds collided in smiles, hugs, luggage, and stares. Welcoming them to Africa, to Zambia, to my life, to my job, and to traveling on the left side of the road was an ambush of language (Nyanja), customs (women’s day and chitenge), and many muzungu (white people) mouths to feed (nshima).
Our plan: 2 weeks of days in Lusaka, a trip to one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World, safari, and ENCHILADAS.
Can you tell that I was really excited about the food?! I have to say 7 months sin green chile was almost unbearable. But I survived and now I’ve had a my fix for the next 7 months.
Upon arriving we checked my parents into the 252 B Twin Palm Intern House, introduced them to the majority of the office and ate. What did we eat? Chicken wings. The following day was spend shopping at the Tuesday vegetable market- full of color and chaos, shopping at the cultural village for symbols of time spent in Zambia. Bartering and bantering filled the morning. March 8th is International Women’s Day and a day off in Zambia. GRS decided to have a women’s group/coaches training event at a farm outside of Lusaka. We headed out there in the afternoon, to introduce my parents to the realities of my life: dancing, chitenge, nshima, heat, and a whole lot of talking.
Perhaps a bit of an overwhelming experience, my parents met the peer educators that I work with, my colleagues, and the women’s group that supplements and assists the GRS curriculum. It was a stunning day. Hot, sunny, and an initiation into who the members of GRS are, lots of faces.
In order to introduce my parents to all the faces in my life, we held a braii (aka bbq) for our parents. Max’s, my housemate, parents were here at the same time. Parent’s weekend!! Lots of food, drink, music, and conversations peppered the night and seasoned it with a family feel…
Next morning it was off to the bus station, onto the bus, and 5 hours down south to Livingstone. After a luxurious lunch we headed to the falls- or should I say the storm…literally smoke and mist thundering away. Seeing the “smoke” as we approached the falls and hearing it as we walked along the path…photos can testify to the shear volume of water but only memories will suffice for the sentiment of being pounded by water, soaked to the bone, having to scream to be heard, and a slight reversion back to a child playing in the rain.
Drinks and dinner at the Royal Livingstone that evening left us pampered, satisfied, and sleepy. In prime shape for Botswana and the adventures to come.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
A day of driving, running, spacing out, and all together a typical day in the life of a GRS intern. It needed to be documented. Places to see and people to meet. Nothing sensational but rarely an experience paralleled.
I awoke to the horrific sound of cat’s attacking each other in our living room. There is this notorious black and white cat, with insanely freaky blue eyes, that frequents our house. More appropriately he frequents our pantry and torments our cat. The sound is one of death and at 3 or 4 in the morning my brain is in no state to process nor function. Anyway…I darted to the living room smacked the table and the problem was solved.
So I have this routine of waking up and making coffee. We have a French press and it is the first thing I do every morning. Make coffee, feed dog, walk to 10 feet to the office.
Since the new year my position has placed me “out in the field.” I love saying this because it makes me feel like I am really bush-whacking it and like I am doing something important. Not that what I do isn’t important, all I am suggesting is the power of language and phrasing to mislead (nothing nobody didn’t know already). But what being in the field has done a few things. I now know almost all of our 60+ coaches names, can speak more Nyanja, and I am getting a sick tan. Ha!
Being in the field has taken me to new parts of Lusaka. Compounds where Muzungu’s hardly ever exist. There are days where being the celebrity of the neighborhood lifts my spirits and other days where I feel like I am the freak. Today I felt a satisfying mixture of the two. Venturing to Matero (about a 30-40 minute drive from the office) we visited Nelson Mandela School. A beautiful ground perched atop a hill. Rarely are you able to get some altitude in Lusaka so it is nice to see what is around you. We arrived early to visit our coaches so Hildah (my M&E partner in crime) and I walked down to the market to buy popcorn and ground nuts (peanuts). As we were purchasing popcorn this gentleman beelined right up to me…darting across the market to talk to the crazy lady buying popcorn. He proceeded to walk with us as we went to buy ground nuts and then all of a sudden chaos of criticism bolted at me from all ends. First, women aren’t supposed to buy ground nuts because of all the protein that they have. Only fit for a man, of course, because women don’t need protein cuz we don’t have semen. So that set me ablaze, then I was in shorts and all the mama’s selling their vegetables, ground nuts, etc. got mad at me for not being in chitenge (fabric that everyone wears). It was a strange dichotomy. I wasn’t angry, just exacerbated. I just always find myself asking…”aren’t there bigger problems than what I am wearing and who eats what?” But I think I ask those questions everywhere…not just in Zambia and not just in Matero.
I made it back to the school in one piece and relatively calm. Popcorn in one hand, ground nuts in the other. As we walked through the school towards the classroom of grade 8s who are participating in our curriculum this cycle, I noticed many colorful paintings on the sides of the walls. On e of which was the reproductive system. We can never talk about sex, but we can place the anatomy on the siding of a school. Oh Zambia how I love you!
Introducing myself to the eager eyes of students is always an adventure. I’ve learned basic Nyanja and always practice on the students. This time I was applauded. I felt so proud of myself. I know my accent is terrible and I mess up every time, but the Grade 8s at Nelson Mandela School have eternally worked their ways into my heart for their sincerity and encouragement.
What a day. Up, down, emotionally and physically on the bumpy roads of Lusaka that we drive on and, realistically, survive daily.
I shall attempt to balance myself out, until tomorrow.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Trash exists everywhere. One of my first memories is of the smell…burning rubbish smogging the sky and my nasal passages. A week’s worth of burning plastic bags, organic material, paper, food, and all manner of other things was enough to convince me to reduce my waste. However, you find that as you live here longer, the smell is customary, and the sight of trash in astonishing places no longer surprises (as shameful as that is to admit). We are however fortunate. There is a private (that is right, any removal of trash is privatized…a lucrative business I would think but no one has jumped on just yet) rubbish collection service that passes by our wall on Tuesday mornings to remove the trash that we produce.
Recently through a deep-cleaning effort we disposed of years of paperwork, trash, and miscellaneous items with the hopes of starting off the new year in a spirit of tidiness, efficiency, and above all else clarity.
On the other half of the compound…our home, there is trash produced at a rapid rapid rate. Between the 5 of us (lena, mike spiak, marissa, max, and myself) we produce a lot of trash. We all love to cook, be creative with our meals, and often find that our over ambitious spirits lead us to over purchase on vegetables, leaving us with a vast supply of peels, rinds, egg shells, rotten tomatoes, and potatoes sprouting foreign objects. All these factors contributed to the birth of recyclable art and recyclable earth.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Until now I have neglected to entertain one of my favorite topics…food, a subject of which at the very least 45% of my brain power goes towards daily. A main activity and source of energy exertion during my holiday, and life in general, was deciding where to eat, when to eat, and finally, what to eat.
Since the coast was calling my name in every way shape and form it seemed only appropriate to immerse myself in all things seafood, with the daily exception of a cup of coffee. In Durban it was chicken wings the first night…I know this isn’t seafood, but chicken wings are one of my favorite foods and having not had them (being too lazy to make them) it was a welcomed appetizer to the 2 weeks of fish oil overdosing.
Next came the salmon pasta in Durban, kudu bunny chow, prawns on pizza in Coffee Bay, more GIANT prawns in Port St. John’s, smoked salmon pizza, chicken bunny chow, fish market fillet…now this I must explain.
Maputo, Mozambique is known for their fish market; a smelly venue that is lines with crabs, fish in shades of pink and red that range from ruby to translucent, and of course, prawns! We ventured out with our friend, Joel, to the fish market…making our way through the fading stalls we selected our fish and our prawns and set out to find the stand that would fry us up some peri-peri (their version of spicy-spicy) prawns and fish for us. We selected a small venue, coined with its plastic lawn furniture and a powder green paint job we took our seats and passed over our purchase of 3 and a half minutes prior. The dueña of the shop and her helpers struggled to figure out the English instructions we relayed to them. Submitting we figured that they know best. And they did! A feast, fit for more than the 3 of us was brought to our table and aptly devoured.
Mozambique continued to be a quest of eating. Prawns, fish, peri-peri chicken, cashews, mangos…delicious vacation. And finally we revisited our trusty Mugg & Bean (Lusaka is getting one soon, look out!) for some coffee and quiche.
Kilograms gained: who cares?!