I feel like I spend a lot of my time here analyzing things. Analyzing the place I am in, myself, the things I am learning. The challenges I face while being here, while not being at home, being away from friends, from family, and the challenges that come with the need to forge these new bonds in a new place, all the way across the world from my home, in situations and places that I can barely even begin to describe to my friends back home.
“Yika yidi yikala neyi mukweti kunu?”, my teacher asks me, in Lunda: what are the challenges that you have here?
“Well,” I reply, “chidi chakala kudiza kuhosha Lunda. Nawa, sweje, chidi chakala kuhosha na mabwambu ami ku Amelika, na chidi chalema kuyileja haja wumi wami kunu.” It is difficult to learn to speak Lunda. Also, especially, it is difficult to talk with my friends in America, and it is difficult to tell them about my life here.
And I go on. It is difficult to learn to live in a new country. It is difficult to be living in someone else’s house again, and to not have full autonomy over my life. It is the new customs: a need to greet everybody when you meet them on the street, whether you know them or not. People staring at me. Kids shouting at me whenever I go by. Asking me for money. Making fun of how they think Americans speak. Ilanga, chidi chakala nawa kutongajoka ya yikala ya wumi kunu. But it is also difficult to think of the challenges of life here.
Last week we went on site visit, and I got to go see the village in Northwest province where I will be living. Its called Minyanya, it is probably 60 km from the district capital at Mwinilunga, and maybe 250 km from the provincial capital, Solwezi.
And while in Minyanya I could start to see all the new challenges that I will start to face when I move. Because the first few months will be difficult. It will all be difficult, but especially the beginning.
New challenges: not just learning to speak Lunda, but learning to understand what people are saying when they refuse to slow their speach down for me when we talk. The fact that my house is right behind the clinic, where all of the clinic staff lives. This is nice because it is convenient for me, but because the clinic staff are all government workers, they are not really part of the community. So I will need to work extra hard to make sure I get out into the community and integrate myself.
And there are also those things that everyone is going to face during community entry, those first few months in the village: figuring out projects. Determining where to work, with whom, and how. Figuring out a daily schedule for myself. Fixing up my hut to make it my home. Learning how best to get around this new place. When and where to get my food, water, charcoal, everything.
But these challenges are all also exciting. Daunting, but exciting.
It’s kind of cool to get to admit that I am heading into something that scares me so much, but that I am also so excited for at the same time.
Because I really am so excited to post. To have autonomy. To be in a new place. To be in my home. To really and truly and finally get started with this whole thing.