As I settle into my new home in Mbeya for the next two years (don’t worry Peace Corps Cribs video soon to come) I’ve taken some time to reflect about what I want my first 3 months at site to look like.
3 months because in early December, I get to meet back up with my cohort for Early Service Training (EST) with my chosen counterpart. My counterpart will be a Tanzanian teacher from my school that hopefully will act as an ally and mentor whom with I can exchange ideas with and possibly carry out secondary projects with.
In addition to finding this blessing of a person before EST, these next 3 months are going to be an important period for adjusting to living alone in an unfamiliar environment, but more importantly to begin building relationships in my community and school. Although integration in part will come from being present in my community for some time, in an effort to be mindful and take some advice from one of the women that inspires me most, my former EPA Internship supervisor, I took some time to set personal goals for these next 3 months. Here’s the highlight reel of my intentions, mostly sharing them for some accountability and maybe to inspire you to take 5 minutes to meditate on what your hopes for this day, week, month are.
My relationship with God and my church community are what I attribute my ability to stay loving towards others and continue to feel blessings and be joyful even during the toughest seasons of life. I hope to continue to grow in my faith here by being more committed to spending time in the word and being mindful that God makes all things good.
I love learning and truly miss the intellectual challenge of my engineering courses. For continued learning, my intention is to opt for books and podcasts over Netflix and continue to make the effort to study Kiswahili.
I am one of maybe 3 volunteers that did not bring a laptop to country equipped with a 3+ TB hard drive filled with more movies than you can watch in a lifetime. Some moments I regret depriving myself of this luxury, but then I remind myself this was intentional because I have very little self control and know if I had brought one I would not read books or exercise or leave my home haha. But, I still have access to Netflix, luckily I’m only able to download shows when I go into town every couple of weeks.
As for language, while I could probably get by the next 2 years with my current level of Kiswahili, I was reminded of why continuing to improve is important while reading Trevor Noah’s book, Born a Crime. EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. While the book is about Noah growing up in South Africa, it had some laughable parallels to what I’ve experienced in Tanzania so far. More importantly I was reminded, “Language brings with it identity and a culture, or at least a perception of it. A shared language says, ‘We’re the same.’ A language barrier says, ‘We’re different.'” While Noah was talking about it in the context of racism and apartheid, a common language offers a starting connection point for two people to get to know each other and recognize simply, we are all human beings.
Speak as much Kiswahili as possible and ask questions to gain better understanding. These have both been personal challenges for me so far I think because, if I’m being honest, I have an issue of pride in not wanting to seem stupid and a lack of confidence in my language learning abilities (thank you middle school Spanish class).
Do yoga and don’t eat only cookies for dinner 🙂
While I set many little intentions that may or may not pan out, the most important one by far is scrawled on the second page and reads, “Meet cultural differences with curiosity and a desire to understand without casting judgement.”