February 1, 2003 - Personal Web Page: 38 people showed up to become the education group of Peace Corps/Malawi 1996

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malawi: Peace Corps Malawi : The Peace Corps in Malawi: February 1, 2003 - Personal Web Page: 38 people showed up to become the education group of Peace Corps/Malawi 1996

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 5:20 pm: Edit Post

38 people showed up to become the education group of Peace Corps/Malawi 1996

38 people showed up to become the education group of Peace Corps/Malawi 1996

On September 17, 1996, I arrived in Washington, D.C. to begin the adventure of a lifetime. The 17th was the day that "staging" began for myself and my group in Washington. 38 people showed up to become the education group of Peace Corps/Malawi 1996.

The following are bits and pieces from my journal throughout my time in Malawi:

"Today I am at the training (in country) for the Peace Corps. I am in Washington D.C. for the first time and it is quite a special time. I have felt weird for the last couple of days because we have been meeting so many people who are going to be there with us in Malawi. . ."

"Malawi: I am here at last. We headed off from Washington Dulles Airport on Friday at 6 p.m. We flew to Amsterdam. That was a lot of fun. We went with a large group to a different area of the city. We saw a sex museum, the Anne Frank House, the flower market and the red light district. Our arrival [at Bunda College] was a breathtaking sight. The schoolgirls from town came out and sang and danced for us. The reception was amazing. They (all 150 or so) were singing and dancing to a traditional 'Welcome to Malawi' song. The girls pulled us in and we danced with them."

"Today we came to our village for our 3 week village stay. We slept in until 7 o'clock today and then we got our shots for Hep B and the second rabies shot. We then loaded up the buses and said goodbye to Bunda college. I was glad to leave that place but I fear this village stay, so I was also very nervous. We left the college and after we got through Lilongwe a bit, our bus broke down. When we got to the village there were about 200 people there to greet us. I met my host family and had my first meal with them. The nsima wasn't bad, but the greens almost made me puke."

"Today I hit my all time low in the Peace Corps. I was this close to asking to go home. I hate the village stay. I hate the language classes. I hate pretty much everything about this country. My host family has two little girls, Dama and Vevina (or something like that). They are really cute and would be nice to play with, but I'm not allowed to really because I have to talk to my abambo most of the time. I'm really getting sick of this place. Tonight I was rather rude. I ate very little and went to bed early. Oh well, live with it. They don't speak English so its hard for me to explain it to them. I AM SO FRUSTRATED!"

"The days seem to go a lot faster now (knock on wood). I think I'll make it through the village stay. I have seen a lot in this village and it's really hard at times to analyze what it is I'm actually seeing. The men work in the fields about half an hour everyday and then are goofing off the rest of the day. The women work their asses off all day long. My family is an interesting one. My father's name is Laurence. He's 23 and treats me like a little kid. He always has to know where I am and what I'm doing. My mother is a very sweet lady. She protects my stuff and does a lot for me. It was really weird the other day. I was talking to her when she pulled out her breast to feed her little boy, Benson. I doubt she really knew how uncomfortable I felt about that situation. To her it was natural. My two little sisters, Eve and Dama, are two very cute little girls. They keep asking me for balloons. I made the mistake of showing Dama how to make annoying noises with the balloon and now I hear nothing but."

"I'm at Domasi right now. I got back from my site visit yesterday. Pirimiti. My impressions of the place weren't the best, but they also weren't the worst. I like the place. It sounds like everything is pretty much set up for me. I just have to carry through on a few things. Zomba looks pretty good. If I can just get through these next few weeks of teacher training, I'm in the clear."

"I'm here the morning before Nick and I plan to tour Malawi. Nick showed up on my doorstep a couple of days ago. It's really good to see another American. We went into Zomba yesterday and I bought a puppy for $2.60. It's really cute but also a bit whiney. It kept me up all night, pissed on my bed, and gave me fleas. I wonder if this is what having children is like."

"Well today I taught my first official class. There were only 4 students there so I didn't teach much. Just enough to confuse them. I came back after my break to teach another class, but nobody was there so I left."

". . . a really cute puppy. I named it Mlonda which in Chichewa means 'Watchman.' It was a pain in the ass. The first night I had it I had to keep it in my spare room and eventually kept it outside. . . followed me to school one day. The other teachers got a kick out of that. It really was cute. But Mlonda is no longer. It seems that these parts are often visited by hyenas during the rainy season. I came out one morning to find a broken leash and hyena tracks everywhere. Oh well."

"Lately I've been going home for short little breaks. Every time I do that I seem to run into or at least walk by this old lady working in the field by my house. She doesn't wear a shirt so she's basically naked from the waist up. The thing is that her breasts haven't seen a bra a day in her life. It's pretty awkward to say the least. She always says hello to me when I go by so I'm supposed to look at her and be polite. It's rather unpleasant. I've been having some digestive problems lately. Serious diarrhea. A couple of mornings ago, I woke up with a strange feeling in my abdomen. I got up and the force of gravity took over. With no time to run outside to the toilet, I grabbed the first thing I could find. A Tupperware bowl. Anyway what do you do with a Tupperware bowl full of shit? Bury it in the front yard of course!"

"I'm going crazy out here. I've run out of good books so I'm reading the crappy ones right now. I can't wait to go to Lilongwe and stock up on good books. I put all of the books that I've read into the school library and my fellow teachers went nuts. They all grabbed a book and have been reading them."

"Today in Physical Science class there was a bird flying around the class. I didn't think much of it so I kept copying my notes onto the board. All of a sudden the bird flew right between me and the chalkboard. I stepped outside the classroom much to my students amusement. The bird kept flying around the room right above my student's heads. Finally a student hit it with a book and knocked it down. It flopped around for a while till someone picked it up and took it outside. Then I saw that it was a bat. Only in Malawi will class be delayed for bat attacks!"

"Today I taught my math class about graphing. I taught my students the basics of rise, run and y intercept. I taught them about m and b, gradient and y intercept. I graphed a couple equations and asked them if they could figure out what b was from the graphs and the equations. After a very long delay, one of the students figured it out. I was so proud and I think it helped the other students to have that suspense and then have a fellow student point out how it all fits together. Some days I think I actually enjoy it here."

"There is a strike here in Malawi right now. Of course Pirimiti isnít involved in it. I knew they wouldnít be. Other schools from around the area are, but the people here in Pirimiti have faith that the government will get them their money and also believe that the government will dock pay if the people strike. Tough situation but I think it's best if I just stay out of it. The people here are afraid of a lot of things especially change."

"Millions of benches! The benches are on schedule. We went and got the wood last Monday and we could have built them all during the next weekís vacation, but the wood is too fresh so we have to wait until the wood dries out. So another month of waiting. Then I do the report, pictures and Thank yous. Iíll have to work on the lab project proposal this weekend and then weíll have a real nice Science laboratory."

"Well itís been an interesting week so far. One of my students died on Sunday so we didnít have school on Monday, so I went to Zomba. The buses were a real mess. It was the end of the month and it was Monday, so everybody was trying to get to town. I waited about two hours for the bus and then barely got on that one. We were packed in that like sardines. I watched one of the conductors physically shoving people off the bus so they wouldnít overcrowd it too bad. There was a guy who died at one of the stages. His body was just lying there alongside the road and the police didnít come to get it until 5-6 hrs later. I heard a couple of different stories about who he was. I thought he was a guy who fell off one of the transports, but I think he was a homeless man who died of whatever causes alongside the road."

"I just got back from my big vacation. I went with Nick and Mike to South Africa. First we went to Harare, Zimbabwe. We watched four American movies, ate ice cream, pizza and had a lot of fun. Nice to get back to 'civilization.' Then we took a train overnight to Bulawayo. There were beds in the train so we basically slept on the train and woke up in Bulawayo. In Bulawayo, we met a lady at the train station who ran a Backpacker's lodge. We stayed at her place for a couple of days and at night went out to a nightclub called the Silver Fox. We met some very interesting people at that nightclub! One interesting individual in particular was a young lady named Mercy, who loved to dance. The problem was that she also had a little temper and the second night there we saw her get in a fight. We went to Pretoria. We stayed at a cool little Backpackers lodge and did some shopping. . . finally we were in Capetown. The best part about Capetown was hiking up to the top of Table Mountain. On our way back we stopped in Johannesburg and were escorted back to the bus station by police officers who felt that we were in danger because we, obviously, were tourists. We were back in Harare for New Yearís Eve. I spent part of the night dancing with a young lady who said she was a police officer, of course other people said she was a prostitute, but Nick said she came to our resthouse a couple days later in her police uniform. It was a fun vacation and was much needed."

"Well, Iím almost done with my Peace Corps experience. Iíve finished up with Pirimiti. Iím a bit disappointed with the results of that place. The Teacher in Charge is not the most competent of people and God knows when heíll actually finish the Science Laboratory. I really wish we had been able to finish it before I left. The word now is that there is no money, though if he actually spent the money on what he was supposed to spend the money on, we would be all done. Iím in Liwonde right now--relaxing, reading, writing etc. I leave Malawi November 24 to Tel Aviv, Israel. A week with Yoav then to Chicago and finally Jackson, MN. I'm looking forward to going back to America but Iím also very sad about leaving Malawi and Liwonde. There was an accident this past weekend in Malawi. Katie Macgillivary, a girl in my Peace Corps group, drowned in Lake Malawi. I just got a letter from her last Thursday. She sent back my pictures and site biography because she said she wasnít going to post them because nobody else responded to it. She said she was sorry and that the next time I was in Lilongwe I should give her a ring and weíd 'do lunch.'"


9/20/96 "Amsterdam"
"We went to see the Anne Frank house. That was pretty cool. Katie and I went to the bathroom. Katie had to wait in line but when I got out of the menís bathroom, I told her to go in there as there was no line for the menís. She did but she told us later that a guy came in on her when she did. She made a male grunting sound so that he would go away. She was a bit embarrassed by it, but I found it quite funny. . ."

Me, Nick, Katie, and Sarah

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Malawi



By Lizzie Nyirenda on Monday, May 05, 2003 - 6:53 am: Edit Post

Please help me find a friend Robert Brunner from Livingstonia Secondary School in Malawi.

By Tapera Chikuvira ( on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - 6:51 am: Edit Post

Please help me find a friend, Lizzie Nyirenda, from Malawi.

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