Home Sweet Home

Many of us have learned that home is where the heart is, or it is what you make it. In San Diego, I moved several times and although it was a pain to move there was also a rush of excitement. This is because of my love for interior decorating. It’s a blank canvas with full of possibilities. 
Zambia has been one of he biggest transitions in my life thus far. And with new changes come new opportunities. I’ve decided to take on the challenges of living in a hut for the next two years with no electricity, Internet,  running water,  or conveniences that I had back in America and make the most of it.

In a way it is daunting and scary, but also exhilarating and exciting. Since then, I’ve been enjoying reading books, painting murals, and getting to know the community.

I’ve learned to enjoy the simplicities of cooking on a brazer and getting creative with recipes. Surprisingly, there are many foods that keep well without a fridge.
As much as I miss home and comfortable amenities it provides, it’s also refreshing to be able to disconnect and discover the simplicity of the Zambian culture.

Since I am a 2nd generation volunteer, I was fortunate enough to inherit many things from the last volunteers that I didn’t have to work with a completely blank canvas.

As Peace Corps volunteers, we tier in as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation volunteers. Second gens have the ability to build off the last volunteer’s projects. Our community is a little more familiar and comfortable working with an American. But I face the challenge of being compared to the last volunteer’s work efforts and living style that they may use it as leverage or guilt.

Although we are assigned as different generations, each volunteer makes their service their own and may be facing completely different issues or reap the benefits.

I was able to inherit a beautiful couch, bed, closet organizers, and a few other things. I made some improvements and am currently working on some other home projects to make Zambia feel a bit more homey. 

Nesting has always been one of my favorite hobbies and I hope to inspire others by making my home my own.


The Surreality of Swearing In

After 11 weeks of endless technical sessions, language practice, and engulfing ourselves in the Zambian culture, the day has finally arrived. I can now officially call myself a Peace Corps Volunteer!

Swearing in felt like a dream. After weeks of preparation, 66 of us couldn’t believe we made it to the finish line. We all dressed the part by getting chitenges tailored to our liking so that we fit the part of a true Zambian. 

As we sat in anticipation to receive our certificates, we listened to the words of wisdom said by our Country Director. One thing that stood out to me was the fact that many of us are first generation in our family. They listed the many diverse countries from which we came from Senegal to Indonesia, from Ghana to Philippines. Our diverse group received the title of United Nations of Peace Corps Zambia.

This made me reflect as to why I joined in the first place; not only give back to others, but show my loved ones how much I truly appreciate them. My family immigrated from the Philippines in hopes for a better future for their children. They struggled through months of paperwork and years of hard work, enduring the stress and criticism of broken English. My mom once told me that she used to carry a pocket dictionary at all times because she was afraid to be teased if she didn’t say the right thing. As a token of gratitude I wanted to experience what they have endured and taste what it was like to completely integrate in culture that is not your own.

These past couple months has helped me realized a fraction of the challenges that my family has faced and how thankful and blessed I am to have them.

When the speeches were done, our names were finally called as we took an oath to uphold the mission to spread peace and friendship in Zambia. We celebrated the day with thanking everyone who supported us through our journey thus far. 

We are now officially Peace Corps volunteers ready to take on any challenge that comes our way.

To Farewells and New Beginnings 

The past few days were such a blur. Our bodies were put through an emotional hurricane consisting of laughter, tears, and anxiety of the unknown. The place we all called home for 3 months was slipping away from us as we start a new chapter in our service. Our families who welcomed us with open arms, taught us about their everyday lives, and were patient with our language skills now had to say farewell, wishing us luck in our next chapter.

On our last day of PST, we celebrated together by embracing and infusing the American and Zambian culture. We sang both national anthems and performed traditional dances from each tribe. 

Us Mu Chilundas decided to narrate an old folk tale. The tale said the following:

A father and son went hunting and took it home for dinner. The son warned the father to eat only the meat and not the bones. The father was stubborn and didn’t listen; so later that night he had trouble in the bathroom and called out to his son for help to remove the bones.

Although it may sound very strange, the message behind it was to teach others to listen loved ones rather than putting their pride first. 

To share a piece of home, we also performed the evolution of dance ranging from the 20s to the popular dances now; starting with swing, to twist and shout, from bye bye bye to formation, these songs threw us back in time. In addition, we all cooked for our families so they were able to taste the diverse pallet of America. 

We ended the day with a final goodbye as we headed to Lusaka to prep for swear in.

The Long Journey Ahead

I am not much of a writer, nor am I very witty or clever, but I figured this is a good start to update you all on the various adventures and travels I’ve been on. Apologies in advance for the spelling and grammatical errors.

As most of you may know, I’ve been yearning to join the Peace Corps for years. Well good news! My dream finally came true! I got invited to be a CHIP (Community Health Improvement Project) volunteer in Zambia, Africa. So last June I packed up my bags and cried my eyes out as I said so long to my loved ones and boarded a plane to my new home.

Once I landed I was quickly introduced to new faces, new environment, new everything. I got fully immersed into a new culture within a matter of days.

With 38 other volunteers who soon became my new family, we all took on the challenge to learn the technical skills and Zambian customs to help make a difference in the community. 

From malaria to HIV, and Safety and Security to Diversity trainings, we spent 8 hours a day 5 days a week in an insaka understanding the intricacies and challenges we may face in the next two years. We also did cooking demonstrations to educate on proper nutrition and teach high school students about the importance of safe sex practices.

But the learning doesn’t stop there; becoming a peace corps volunteer is a job 24/7. After a tedious 8-hour day, we would come home to our host families to practice language. Although it was exhausting at times, it was great to be able to exchange stories and learn from them. We were able to cook from a brazer, wash clothes by hand, and fetch water from a borehole. 

It’s crazy how much I’ve done in the little time I’ve been here. And now our 3-month training comes to a close, as we enter community entry. 

By next week, I will be swearing in to be an official peace corps volunteer on August 31. All the hard work of studying, integrating, and speaking a new language has finally paid off!

After swear in I am moving to Chana in Northwest Province, Mwinilunga District. I will be off on my own in a bush learning to grow pineapples, fine tune my language skills, and establishing relationships with my new community.

It’s been a long, challenging, and rewarding journey thus far and am excited to see for what’s ahead.