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.