Saturday, March 31, 2012

International at home

So, this weekend I travelled to DC in order to sit in on a PhD international psychology class. This is where I have decided to focus my efforts and energies and am gearing up for the changes. Yesterday, I chose to travel by Megabus to DC;I anticipated having time to myself to read, listen to music or to sleep. None of this happened. I sat next to a young woman who struck up a conversation with me. Turns out, she is from Bahrain and is a med student doing her month-long elective at CHOP. I learned that she is Sunni and heard, first hand, her experience of Arab spring and the struggle that her country is currently experiencing between the Sunni and Shiite. It was a very fascinating conversation; we wound up exchanging information. I am curious as to where this will take me. Today, I opted to return by train, again with the same expectation that I had for the bus. Yet again, I was incorrect in this. I wound up sitting next to a woman who is in the US, with asylum status, from Bagdad. From her, I learned about the struggles of being a refugee in another country, the hardships, the fear, the desire to be accepted, the need to provide for family. These last 36 hours I recognized, in a very real way, that the global concerns are not in "that country over there", but right here. If we will just take the time to sit next to, to listen to and engage in conversation with those who are different from us, the possibility of learning and empathezing is remarkable available. I feel blessed and moved to have been priviledged to meet these women and bear witness to their stories, even in the few short hours we had together.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's Coming to an End

Well, I am in my last few days here in Zambia and I both sad and excited. I am looking forward to returning to the states and talking to my family and friends and being able to share about my experiences here. On Tuesday afternoons Kathleen runs a women's club - Chiwemwe Ladies - where they gather to make beads and necklaces and sew together handbags made out of plastic bags. This is a time for the women to share with one another, to have an oral Bible lesson, but it also provides these women, who normally have nothing, with income - some with a way to provide for their families, for very few to suppliment their husbands income. It was such an blessing to spend time with these women, to just share that space - I did very little talking, but I was able to just be with them and to observe and learn. They also shared songs with me and some dancing - that was fun. I had to say my first good-byes to them on Tuesday. They prayed for my journey home and they prayed that I would not forget them or their stories.

Tomorrow I say good-bye to the teachers whom I have worked beside for the past 5 weeks, I am sad to do this, but I am excited for what these teachers are doing and their work with the children and what they have taught me and what I was able to share about creative arts in therapy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


This past week I traveled to Livingstone with Erna, a teacher from the Hope school. Erna and her husband, a pastor, are moving to Livingstone and, so they graciously took me with them. Erna was a great travel companion, for 8 hours, as we drove to her new home. She knew so much about the plants and the land and would frequently point out to me the trees and plants and me the names.

In Livingstone, I was able to go to Victoria Falls, though, I was told repeatedly that I would not enjoy them as much as if I were seeing them in June or July as this is now the dry season. The amazing thing about the Falls is that they are shared by both Zambia and Zimbabwe - though in Zimbabwe the falls are going strong and you can see the mist from the Zambian side.

I hiked the gorge to thte Boiling Pot (467 meters down and then back up) in order to sit on the rocks and put my feet in the water. This was great fun, but it was a little intimidating as it was all rocks and straight down and then straight back up - thanks for taking me rock climbing Chantelle - this really helped :)

I also was able to climb a tree - there is this huge tree with a ladder and platform built into it and I climbed it and could see all across the land and the falls, too.

My favorite moment was learning a melody on a xylophone-type instrument and playing with an indigenous man - it was a highlight to say the least.

At night, I took a sunset cruise on the African Queen and saw hippos, crocs, and herds of elephants - this was a very pleasant and relaxing time spent on the Zambezi River.

I am back at the Village and am embarking on my final week here. I must admit that I enter this last week with mixed emotions - an excitement to return home and to see family and friends and share my experiences in person, but also a sadness that I will leave all the people that I have come to love.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Winds Bring the Rain

Each morning one of the teachers at the school tells the students .. hear that bird, it is calling to the winds who will bring the rains. It is a commonly held belief here that the summer months, which are so dry and hot, have these amazing gusts of winds - mostly in the mornings and it is these winds that will bring the rains in Jan. I don't know if it's true or not, but it's kind of fun to think about.

As we near the end of September, it is getting hot. When I first got here it was not so bad - warm, but comfortable. Now, it is becoming warmer and warmer and I find that being outside around 2:00pm is not such a great idea. I am drinking lots of water, as are the children and others who live at the Village.

This week I began to teach recorder classes - it is a lot of fun and almost all of the kids have taken to learning this instrument. I have also completed 20 assessments of the kids here and am in process of completing the write ups and sharing with both the teachers and the housemothers here.

Some of the kids have decided that I should learn to speak their native tongue - nyange - so they say words to me, have me repeat them back and then tell me what it means in English - it is slow going :)

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon with the kids at the Village - mostly the boys, though, as they wanted me to read to them. I read for 2 hours - they picked up book after book and this morning they were waiting on the porch for me to read some more. I think I have found my group. Also, the kids realized that I had video capabilities on my phone and, so I recorded about 5 videos of the kids just being silly or singing or dancing around. Then, of course, they had to watch the playback over and over.

Being with the kids and just being at the Village has been such a blessing and a great time. One of the funniest stories this week was told to me by one of the housemothers, Mommy Rose. As I was walking to school on Friday, Mommy Rose came out to talk to me. She said that Gift was with the other kids before walking to school, when he all the sudden appeared outside her kitchen window. She heard Gift saying, "I think you should stay here" - upon looking out the window, Gift was shooing the flies off his body and telling them to stay there - such a hoot.

On Tuesday I head to Livingston to go to Victoria Falls - should be an interesting and exciting trip!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Singing in the Morning

One of my favorite experiences at the Village so far, is the fact that the children gather together at 7:15am to sing before they walk to school. I am enjoying hearing this as I get ready in the morning or on the occasion that I am awake and ready, I join them and then walk to school with them. All people should start their mornings like this.

I am also enjoying playing games with the children in the afternoon - usually this is monkey in the middle, which appears to be a cross between monkey in the middle and dodgeball - I am usually the target and the kids laugh and laugh when they hit me and I'm out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hockey Pokey and "Auntie, Push Me"

kids playing hockey pokey as they waited for hair cuts

Yesterday I played with the kids outside while they waited to get their haircuts. They wanted to see pics of my family and so, I brought my laptop outside and showed them the pics that I have. Then, they wanted to "write" their names on my computer, so I opened Word and we proceeded to write each child's name in a document, so that they could see it. Finally, they discovered that I have music on the computer and had me search through the music to see what they wanted to hear - we finally stumbled upon the Hockey Pokey - they formed a circle and began doing the dance, over and over :)

There is a swingset near the cottages and several of the children were swinging and as I walked by, "auntie, push me", so I spent the better part of an hour pushing on the swings and showing the kids how to hook their legs over the bars and swing upside down.

Today, we had church - I must admit that I felt moved to tears today - the children lead the service - the singing and the drum playing (I recorded much of this) and also the praying. There were about 50+ kids and 6 adults. Watching and experiencing this ... I have no words right now.

Friday, September 10, 2010

School is in Session

sunset in Zambia - taken at Ibis Gardens

Yesterday was the first day of school - one of the teachers is ill, so I immediately became a sub-assistant in the room - I also was able to run my first group with this class - it was alot of fun and today I was able to run the group again and the kids were singing one of the songs out in the playground after.

Today, I began the task of starting to assess some of the students at school - it is make-shift, but seems to be working okay - I assessed four kids and then had the opportunity to meet with Kathleen and the teachers to discuss - this was interesting and one of the teachers expressed an interest in learning more about music therapy as she believes that it can enhance how she works with the students.

I am learning much about the culture of Zambia, but also about the people that I am able to interact with. All seem eager to hear about me and where I am from as well as share their life experiences and stories, too. This has been highly enjoyable and I look forward to continuing to listen to people's stories.

I am trying to upload photos, but so far no dice.

Also, a story for M'lade, Steve and Stephanie (whom I know will appreciate this) - so, my flight to Zambia was uneventful for the most part - I basically slept. However, for the first time EVER, the overhead compartment about me opened when we were taking off and a bottle and snickers bar fell on my head - this after just watching the safety video where an animated person had bags fall on their head. I knew the three of you would want to hear this story :)