Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Now you see why I love it here??"

Jessica's kitten Maluba.

Jessica-hugging a tree (can you find Jessica??)

Jessica with the family she lived with during her training et. al.

The picture of Jessica with this beautiful baby says it all!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Written by Jessica October 9, 2008

Hey everyone!
Thanks you so much for writing me. It's always the highlight of my day to get a letter from home. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about what's going on in your lives-it makes me feel more connected! Now that I am through with training and have some time on my hands I can respond!
I try to write at least one letter a day but only have your address if you have written me.

Zambia has been wonderful. Never have I been somewhere where the people have been so hospitable and kind. Life here is very peaceful and has a much slower rhythm. Time in Zambia is a much different concept than what it is in the states. I have really enjoyed slowing down!

When I first arrived in Zambia there were a few aspects that seemed "different" at first but I have really grown to greatly appreciate, maybe even prefer them. One of these is greeting others. Not so much in a city like Lusaka, but in more rural areas it is suggested that when greeting almost anyone, especially adults, you don't just say "hey, whats up" and give a head nod. Rather, you greet them in a local language and if you are close enough in distance you shake hands.

Another aspect I found to be slightly unusual was that of transport. The most common way to travel any distance here is by hitchhiking. At first I was uncomfortable about just hopping into the car with just anyone, especially not really speaking a local language. (there are MANY!) My concerns were of personal safety and of getting lost. Then someone explained that hitching in Zambia is safer than riding the DC Metro with regards to harm from another person. It is important to make sure before you get in a vehicle that it looks somewhat reliable! On the issue of getting lost, that is not a concern at all now. Where I live, in the Eastern Province, there is only one main road and all of my main destinations are the same destinations as other people!

People are always more than willing to go out of their way to help. Last week, before being dropped off in the village where I will be living for the next 2 years, I was in Lundazi, the boma (town) near my village (only 27 kilometers away) with my friend. We didn't really know our way around yet but we wanted to go see if we had mail at the post office. We approached a small group of people chatting and asked them to point us in the direction of the post office. One man stood up and just started walking, telling us to follow. He introduced himself and we chatted as he walked us 10 minutes to our destination. We thanked him. He said he was pleased that we would be staying in Zambia and that he would see us again sometime. He then turned around and walked back the way he came.

I realize that this is getting somewhat long winded and I want to keep it somewhat short since my mother will (hopefully! ) be typing it for me! So I will just tell you about my village, briefly....

I got dropped off here one week ago. My home is a nice sized mud (sorry, no dung) hut. It is located in the small village of Dekhani, in Zumwanda, which is in the Lundazi District in Eastern Province. So now you know where to find me when you come to visit!! My village is one of the 2 smallest in Peace Corps Zambia. (numbers here in the village always fluctuate) My village is comprised of 3 men, their wives, one other mother and one grandmother. (so 6 households including mine) Of course there are many kids! Everyone is very kind and welcoming. Usually every PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) has a host family at their site. I asked my PCV leader Kate, (who I am replacing in this village), which family is mine? She said "They're ALL your family!"

Each day the women make an effort to stop by my porch and greet me. Communicating with them is humbling! I'm still learning Tumbuka. It is primarily the men who speak English. I must say it's the children who have been the most welcoming and have given me the most entertaining company. They are always really great about teaching me Tumbuka words. Since most of them only speak a few words of English, communication between us is always a bit like charades! They always rush to help me if they see I am doing any tasks, even though I am fully capable and happy to do it myself. Drawing water, for instance has become somewhat of a game between me and the kids. (or "iwes", an informal way PCVs refer to them) The well is pretty close to my house so if I need water I first look to see if anyone is there. If it is vacant, I grab my H2O bucket and swiftly make my way over there. (If it is occupied, the person drawing the H2O always draws water for me before filling their buckets, which is a kind gesture, but makes me feel bad) So I make my way over to there, lower the bucket as quickly as possible and start to crank it up as fast as I can. By this time a kid has already run to help me. Only once have I been able to pull the bucket up and start pouring the water into my containers before a kid appeared. I try to tell them that I appreciate their help but want to do it on my own so "I can learn to be strong like you." But they always insist. Once we get the water, there is usually no hope for me to carry it back to my home. I always insist but am lucky if my helper (s) let me carry one of my two buckets.Speaking of which, it's already 11:30 AM and all I have done today is eat breakfast, play with the kids and write. (which I'm finding I actually enjoy!) It's about time I should go to get water so I can bathe and cook lunch before I attend a Neighborhood Health committee meeting at 14. Let's see how far I can go with getting my water on my own!

I miss you all so very much.
Call me if you can.
I have voice mail if my phone is off or if I am out of range. (My mom can tell you how to call)
And PLEASE continue to write and I will too!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

At home in Zumwanda!

I'm at home in my village in Zumwanda!! The people are happy.
The insects are overwhelming...HUGE crickets, scorpion, tons of spiders and the other night I had ants an inch long in my bed. I surrender! I'm adjusting to life here.
What's new in your life?
My address for the next two years is: PO Box 530376 Lundazi, Zambia, Africa. (Lundazi is the closest town to my village)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Birthday in Zambia!

September 25, 2008
Had a great birthday! Along with 29 other Peace Corp Trainees I cooked from early morning until afternoon preparing a meal to honor and thank our host families. I have never seen such a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies in my life!
Today we are saying goodbye to the families who have welcomed us into their homes and going back to Lusaka, the capital.
Friday we will be going to the US Ambassador's home and be sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers.
Not sure when we leave for our respective villages. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yea-I passed!

After studying all week for my language test I was relieved to learn that I passed!

"Tizamuonana". (Farewell/We'll see each other later)

Friday, September 12, 2008

New address for the next 2 years!

Wondering.... what is going on in your world??
Here is my new address. Hope to hear from you soon!
Love, Jessica

Jessica Petrone, Peace Corp Volunteer
PO Box 530376
Lundazi, Zambia
(no zip)

FIrst email from Zambia!

Mon, 8 Sep 2008 17:43:51
Hi Everyone!
I am finally on the computer for the first time today! Don't have much time but wanted to say hi. We would have ha more time to spend in the internet cafe |(i am using that term loosely) but I decided to hang out at the dambo behind the castle (castle in Lundazi, Zambia...strange, huh?) We were climbing on rocks, watching kids play in the water, and most importantly...wandering out on a log in the water watching a HIPPO!!!! We must have only been 50 feet from the massive animal who came to surface for 8 seconds (at most) at a time to let out a groan and twitch its ears! I am still in amazement! Running out of time on the computer so I will have to wrap this up.
I miss you all so much. Zambia is amazing andI love it here. I am still in training (where I learn technical skills for service and also the language Tumbuka). Right now we are on out second site visit, staying with a volunteer who has been here for a year. We head back to Chalimbana (where my home stay family and the training center are) on friday. We swear in on September 26 and then durring the first week of october i will be dropped off in my village, Zumwanda! I will have a new address. I will try to get it tonight and pass it on asap. So any mail you wish to send please send to the new address. There is nothing I would love more than to recieve letters. I have not really had tome to write, but I will have great opportunity to do so once I am through with training. I would love to know how everyone is doing.
Love and miss you all!
ps...i apologize for time to proof read!