Last night my Bamaama, my host mother here, told me that she is looking to lose some weight. That she wants to “reduce her weight”, possibly by cutting down on the number of lumps of nshima, the staple thick-grits-like food that we have with every meal here. It struck me because, in a country where we are focusing so much on malnutrition, and not having enough to eat, it seems rare to me to be talking to someone, especially in the village, who is focusing on eating less, and not on eating more.
Especially because they use being “fat” as a compliment here. Being told that you are looking fat, or that you have gained weight, is a good thing. Opposite of what she is trying to do.
That just struck me as odd.
I am in the middle of packing my things. Spending my last days with my host parents, packing all of the books that Peace Corps has given me over the course of training, shopping for a farewell gift for my language instructor and for my host family. Spending the last days in the village, and in my hut. Working on fixing my swear-in dress that the tailor butchered. Buying food in town and eating picnic lunches with Hannah at the filling station (one of our favorite pastimes).
We finished all of our final exams and presentations this morning, and we have a cultural ceremony tomorrow. Each of the language classes has prepared something, mostly some sort of song or dance, and all of the trainees are cooking a giant American meal for our hosts.
And then we go to Lusaka.
In Lusaka we have swearing in on Friday, where we officially become volunteers! And it’s about time.
The training period has been long, and has felt even longer. We have gone through all of the highs and the lows that they promised us that we would, and we have gone from knowing nothing about where we are to itching to get out of the training village and into our real villages to get to work. We want to start working, to start learning to fit in, to start our next two years.
The past three months have been aimed at teaching us the skills to thrive in our communities in our actual service, but now we are ready to stop having our hands held, to stop being taken care of, and to actually dive into it all.
At least for the most part.
I will miss little things, like getting help with my laundry. And as much as I am itching to cook my own food, and eat what I want when I want, I will miss coming home every night and having food waiting, and prepared.
In the end it almost feels a bit like going off to college. Sure it feels scary to know that I am moving to a new place where I don’t know anyone and don’t really (well kind of) speak the language. But it is also exciting. It sucks to have to leave my friends here, but I know that we will talk, and I know that I will see them (well, the ones that I want to see) again. And it’s weird to have to think about not having anything definitive that I am going to be doing for the next three months (at least), and no idea of what I will actually be doing for the next two years, but that is also pretty cool. I’m going to get to do anything I want. And everything that I want. All on my own.