I was at a training in Lilongwe when I hit my six-month mark so this
is a little bit late. It's okay though because I am in Malawi and
everything runs a little slower here, so this only shows I am
integrating well, right?
Compare and contrast how you thought your service would be by this
point, and how it actually is.
I think I imagined that after six months I would feel pretty
comfortable with teaching, daily chores, Chichewa, knowing transport,
all of it. Still, six months isn't much time, so I wasn't expecting
to know everything.
I am pretty comfortable with my home and with teaching, but I still
come across new things everyday. For example, I just recently learned
that my village trading post has fresh milk in bags. And I just went
to my first PTA meeting last month, which was a whole new experience
for me. So I am still learning, but my life has more of a routine to
it than it did when I first got here.
What do you do in your free time...if you have free time?
I like to read, garden, play with my neighbor kids (lately we are
drawing with chalk), try to figure out new ways to cook tomatoes with
onions and rice, read the news and of course blog!
How has "integrating" into the community been going?
For me, my community is my school, my village trading post, and my
neighbors. When I am in those places, I feel pretty well integrated.
At school I know all the teachers and I have my students and my
classes and my work in the library, so I feel comfortable there. In
the market I usually buy from the same 6 or 7 vendors, so we say hi
and chat in Chichewa when I go there. My neighbors are really friendly
and helpful, and I spend a lot of time with my neighbor kids. So
while I will never be confused for a local, I feel like after six
months I have made a place here for myself.
If you have any type of media, what do you watch, read, listen to, etc?
Mostly I read books. I usually have a few going at the same time-- a
couple new ones including the one I am currently reading for the book
club, plus rereading some of my favorites, like "The Mists of Avalon".
I listen to music sometimes. I have been listening to a lot of
Frente! and Cat Power lately. I was also able to download some
podcasts when I was in Lilongwe, so now I can catch up on a few
episodes of This American Life!
Do you have any new hobbies?
Does weeding my garden count? Because I have to do that everyday. I
have made a couple friendship bracelets with some embroidery floss
that the previous PCV left for me. Plus I just got a new book from the
PC library so I might have a new hobby in time for the next PC
What's at least one thing new that you've learned since being at site?
Let's see... I think the biggest thing I have learned is how to make a
little bit of water last a long time. I am pretty efficient with the
use of water for bathing and washing dishes and other household needs
Other stuff: I have learned a lot about fire from burning my garbage.
I can now hang, repair and properly wash a mosquito net. And I learned
a new way to cut a pineapple.
What time do you usually go to bed?
I get in my net by 6:00pm since it is dark and the mosquitos come out,
but I usually go to sleep around9:00pm. Hence all the reading.
What do you typically eat everyday? - what do you "still" like and
what are you sick of?
Breakfast - maize porridge with brown sugar, raisins and pumpkin pie
spice (thanks, Becca!)
Snack - energy bar from care packages, but those are almost gone so I
might try eating boiled cassava as a snack now
Lunch - egg on toast, piece of fruit if I have any, or peanut butter on bread
Dinner - rice with soya pieces, tomatoes, onions and whatever veggies
I can find (today it is eggplants)
I still love toast and peanut butter and eggs and maize porridge. I
am kind of over the rice and veggies dish, but I try to spice it up to
make it palatable. I make spaghetti once a week which is a nice
treat, and I've made pancakes a couple times, though it isn't really
the same without syrup.
What does your typical "work" day look like?
I usually wake up at 5:30am and start getting ready for the day. I use
the latrine, get my water for the day, start boiling my drinking water
and making breakfast. I leave my house and walk to school which
starts at 7:30am. This term all my classes are in the morning. In
between my classes I am usually marking homework, preparing an
activity for the next day's lesson, or working in the library. I
usually leave school around noon. I might stop at the market to pick
up a few things and then I head home. I make lunch and maybe relax a
bit, then start lesson planning for the next day. Usually the
neighbor kids will come by and I will take a break and hang out with
them for a little while. Then back to lesson planning. Around 4:30pm
I start my evening routine of bathing and cooking, so I can have
everything finished in time to be in my net by dusk.
What are you so over, but you still hafta do it for the next 1.5 years?
Well, there are lots of things that I won't be sorry to say farewell
to after I complete my service, but I try not to think about them too
much (because I still have to do then for another 1.5 years). I will say that I don't enjoy having my bathroom outdoors,
especially when it is raining and my yard is basically a muddy
obstacle course on the way to the latrine in the morning. But that is
more a Rainy Season problem, which won't last forever. And of course
the Rainy Season has lots of cool stuff too, like how pretty and green
everything is right now, and the gentle patter of rain showers on the
tin roof, and how fast my garden is growing, and all the cool frogs
and toads I see in my yard. So there are lots of things that I like
about this season too. That is kind of my way of getting by here. I
try to think about what is special about being here in Malawi, and
focus on that.