Thursday, August 17, 2006

PCV Finally

i am currently in mansa, i also am now officially a volunteer after our graduation on monday. the graduation itself was not all that interesting, although it was nice to see my homestay family one last time. we swore an oath, apparently the same one used in the military, signed our names to the two year commitment, and were welcomed as the newest volunteers in peace corps zambia. tomorrow those of us being posted in kawambwa district are heading up to the district capital, kawambwa, where we will finish up our final shopping on thursday and friday. on saturday i am being taken to my village. i am excited that it is finally almost here, but also nervous--but, it's a beginning, and hopefully i will settle in quickly.

the training group has now split up, and it was sad to say goodbye to several of them who had become good friends but who have gone to different provinces. i will see them 3 or 4 times a year from here on out, which will certainly be strange after having seen them every day for the last nine weeks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You'll Need a Chitenge for That

We've made it into Kitwe for the evening, we were moved out of our homestay houses this morning and into a college campus just outside of the city where we will be staying for the next couple of days. Our graduation ceremony is on Monday at 11 am, there are going to be a variety of different speakers so the production has the potential to go for a very long time. Once we've been sworn in we will officially no longer be PCT's but PCV's...woohoo. It is exciting but also sad and a bit intimidating; sad because I will have to say goodbye to many of the friends I made during PST and will not see them for another three months when we have in-service training. It is intimidating because I will be dropped off in my village on the 19th--I will be the only white person there, I will not know a soul in the entire village and surrounding countryside, I have absolutely no activities planned to fill the day other than what I can think of to try to keep me busy, and I don't speak the language hardly at all.

With that said I have received some more news about my site from the previous volunteer and there are some reasons to be excited. Apparently there are several women's groups in the area who are interested in starting a small sewing/knitting business, as well as one that wants to learn about small animal husbandry and beekeeping. My house is supposed to be very nice, I have a Mango tree and Raspberry bush in my yard, and the old volunteer left most of his furniture there so I don't have to worry too much about furnishings. I also acquired a hammock this last week which I am thrilled about.

This last week was busy but fun. The trainees staying in Chankalamo village decided to have a goat roast on Thursday with all our families in order to thank them and celebrate the end of PST. I had to transport the live goat to the site of the roast several days before on Tuesday--I found out later that the best way to transport a male goat anywhere is to simply sling it across your shoulders. But, I tried walking it over, a trip highlighted by me crawling into a thorn bush in pursuit of the goat after it slipped the rope, a laughing mob of children surrounding us as I tried to drag the goat up a hill, and me being tempted to break out my Leatherman and slaughter the thing on the spot. But, I finally prevailed, and thoroughly enjoyed the goat meat several days later.

The Nyanja families attending put together a mock initiation ceremony for young girls that was extremely interesting. The highlight was a lot of dancing and laughter, although the actual ceremony is very serious business and quite the production from what I've been told by volunteers who have witnessed it. One interesting tradition that two of our female trainers exhibited for us concerns respect: before they went out to dance they approached the old women who were doing the singing and drumming and laid themselves on the ground in the fetal position at their feet and clapped three times. They then rolled over and repeated the process on their other side, then got up to dance. The gesture was met by ululating whoops of appreciation from the bamayos--apparently it is a Bemba tradition, but since they are cousins with the Nyanjas that tribe appreciates the act as well. Things started to deteriorate when I was pulled into the dancing area by a determined bamayo so that I might represent the Bembas as it was mostly Nyanjas who had been doing the dancing. I dragged Brad with me so I wouldn't be alone in my humiliation, a bamayo wrapped chitenges around our waists, and we proceeded to break out our best moves. The Bemba and Nyanja dances are slightly different, but both involve a prodigious amount of hip movements that are supposed to be fluid; I sincerely doubt whether mine were so, but I certainly gave it my all as my aching hips and legs could attest. I did hear from both our trainers who speak Bemba that I received a lot of compliments from the bamayos afterwards--I think that was probably a result of all the chibuku the women were consuming, but I'll take it. There are several pictures of Brad and myself in action, but I am hoping that they never reach the public sphere.

Sunday, August 6, 2006


this past week has been extremely busy as PST is starting to wind down. we have all of our final tests coming up, as well as some last second projects that we need to complete before we can change our acronym from PCT to PCV. on top of all that i've been selected to give the speech for the bemba LIFE group at the swearing-in ceremony, so there will be some extra work involved there as well. but, we only have a week left and then we will be heading to our villages, which i think everyone is excited about. i also found out that my village is called muyembe, and is located in kawambwa district, and is supposed to be very nice.

the big excitement of the last week was that my homestay family's house was attacked by impashi, or red ants. i woke up at about 1 a.m. on tuesday and could hear them talking out in the yard. i wondered what could be going on but fell asleep again before i could give it much more thought. when i walked outside the next morning the yard had been burned--there isn't much vegetation in the yards anyways since they intentionally keep them bare in order to be better able to see snakes, prevent their houses from getting burnt by run-away fires, and not provide a habitat for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. but what little greenery there had been was now gone, and i asked my bataata why. he explained that the red ants had attacked and then had started for my house so they had to burn the yard in order to stop them. red ants here can attack in the millions, and they bite viciously just as the ones in the states do, and there is really no way to drive them away except with fire which has some obvious drawbacks. so, my homestay family was forced to spend the entire night out in their yard while the ants took over their house. my bataata said that they saw them crawling down the walls of the house and ten minutes later the entire room was completely blanketed with's an unpleasant experience to say the least, and i'm glad i was spared it, although i felt badly for my family that couldn't sleep the entire night.

my mailing address is going to be changing once i leave here; if you are planning on sending me a letter, please send it to the new address since i will be gone from kitwe by the time any letter sent from the u.s. gets here:

Joshua Meservey
PO Box 710150
Mansa, Zambia

please remember that the envelope must say "air mail" on it or it will be put on the slow boat to china. the pc house in mansa, my provincial capital, does not currently have internet so my access to email is going to be extremely limited, if i can get it at all. i will always enjoy receiving emails, but if you write to me via snail mail i promise to write back to you--i can get your mailing addresses from the letters you send me. i may actually be getting a PO Box in kawamba, the nearest town, since i will only be in mansa about once a month. i will be sure to let everyone know the new address if i do get it; if i do, the kawambwa address will probably only be good for letters, packages would be safest going to the mansa address.