i am currently down in lusaka, we've just had TOT (training of trainers, part of peace corps' ongoing love affair with acronyms) which is basically a logistics meeting for all the trainers who will be helping with the new intake of volunteers due in june. i'll be helping to train the life group for the last 3 weeks of training, should be fun. this also is a reminder that i now have been in zambia for a full year, seems incredible.
my friend joel has left, back to the land of milk and honey. we had a great time while he was here, the presence of not one but two muzungus in muyembe really thrilled the children--they got some quality white man watching in. joel and i started playing frisbee on the soccer pitch when we didn't have much else to do, giving us an opportunity to showcase our 2 inch vertical leaps, mediocre running ability and lead hands. the first time we played i looked up after the first few tosses to see knots of children literally sprinting towards us to get a look at what we were doing. every frisbee game after that we'd be surrounded by kids which made it difficult to chase down errant tosses--a problem since 90% of our throws could be categorized as such. once we grew tired, though, it was nice to have them around as they would scamper after particularly bad throws as well as the occasional hat hurled in frustration. plus, the game was so foreign to them they probably didn't realize you aren't supposed to allow the frisbee to bounce of your hand/knee/face or launch it 20 feet over your partner's head.
last week the life/rap programs in luapula held a week-long workshop for village counterparts on a variety of subjects. it was a good time and beneficial i think, there were several interesting discussions about gender. it is funny to hear zambians air certain opinions on the topic, mostly because we westerners have been trained to be so highly sensitive about the subject; zambians, however, will blithely bust out with a sexist comment. as the only american male at the workshop it was sometimes up to me to try to counter some of those opinions since the american girls probably didn't have as much credibility in zambian eyes. one counterpart in all seriousness opined that good nutrition lessens divorce since "women aren't so difficult, if they're well-fed they will be happy." knowing i should say something, i broke in and offered that that was probably only true if there was chocolate involved. somehow, the girls later forgot to thank me for defending them.
we always try to incorporate hiv/aids discussions into every workshop we have, simply because all other development work we try to do is pointless if zambia doesn't start halting the epidemic that is absolutely crippling the country. so, hiv/aids education is critical and serious, but there are moments when it is difficult to maintain the somber face the topic deserves; i usually find myself wondering what the appropriate facial expression should be when watching a zambian counterpart struggle to demonstrate the proper condom application method using whatever model we have had to press into service (a bike pump once, usually bananas or cucumbers--a pcv once used a bottle of beer in a bar. he told me later that he was feeling pretty good about his extension technique until he tried to fill a condom with a liter of water to prove his boast about how strong condoms are. the condom broke, spilling water all over the floor and leaving him to try and convince a skeptical crowd that he'd been using one that had expired).
we recently had our province-wide meetings; me, shawn, richard, maneesh, and parker all decided to kill and roast a pig as we'd done during manfest '06. we spent a lot of time bragging about how this pig would be the best pork anyone had ever had, since we'd done so well at shawn's the one time we'd tried it (we now understand that that particular success was what is commonly referred to as "blind luck"). i killed the pig and we then convinced the guard to clean it, who finished the job about 3 times as quickly as we could have. we stuck it in the ground and continued raising expectations of magnificent pork among the other pcv's. about 14 hours later, with an expectant crowd gathered around, we pulled the pig out. silence...and then richard turning to erin and discreetly inquiring if she could run to the store and get 5 extra bottles of barbecue sauce. the pig was nowhere near cooked, a serious blow to the assembled male egos. several rash promises were made (mostly be me and shawn) to eat the thing anyway to prove all the complaining crybabies wrong but cooler heads prevailed and we ended up butchering the thing and roasting it like crazy. the pork turned out ok but what little faith the girls had in our culinary abilities was forever destroyed.