Monday, June 9, 2014

Community Entry...the beginning of my new life in Zambia

     I am in my second month of community entry and I am the only Peace Corps Volunteer in my village. Community entry in the Peace Corps is the first three months at site which allows Peace Corps Volunteers to settle into their home, become familiar with the surroundings and meet people in the community.

     My first two weeks of community entry were the most difficult because I felt like I had lost my identity. I didn't have my friends to help confirm who I am. I didn't have them there to laugh with, talk with or cry and complain with. I had to learn how to do this on my own. There really isn't anyone to turn to in those instances.

     I have become very strong over the past several weeks. But, I have also made some new friends and these new friends are from a different culture from my own. We eat different foods, have different worldviews and beliefs. Zambians have a difficult time comprehending divorce and how a woman can get by on her own. Also, they are perplexed with how I am able to live apart from my children. Zambians have very tights bonds not only with their immediate family, but with extended family members. They find it very odd that I only have two cousins and I have only met them once.

     But Zambians are accepting people. My host family has made it clear to me that I am a part of the family. And I really am. I feel very welcome going over to their house. I  go over almost every evening to eat dinner with them. I feel as though I have known these people all of my life. I come over and plop down on the couch and watch television with them. Yes, they have electricity which I don't have even though I only live about 100 meters away. But, anyway, I like this family and I am growing to love them.

     Once community entry ends I should be well integrated in the community. I will begin my work as a forestry extension agent helping the community members understand how they can improve their farming techniques and improve their lives in many different ways. I will work with people individually and I will hold workshops on malaria prevention and conservation farming. I will be available as a resource to help them acquire seed or obtaining fruit tree seedlings to plant at their homes to help with food security. I may also be able to help guide some of them on how to take on an income generating activity such as bee keeping.

     I hope to make some kind of difference in these people's lives. They already are making a difference in mine. I still have two years ahead of me for so much more exposure to a life that is so different from the one I've lived my whole life. I am very thankful for this experience.I am looking forward to see the kind of person I am yet to become. 

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