The Zambezi Floodplain
In the words of Bilbo Baggins:
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your front door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
We now know a little of what Bilbo meant. We signed up for an international practicum all those months ago and can honestly say, we didn't really know what we were getting into. This
last week we have started to understand how to "keep our feet" as we begin our time in Mongu.
These past few days have been quite eventful. Travelling halfway cross the world in about 30 hours, arriving in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. Braving an 8 hour bus ride from Lusaka to Mongu with only squatty potty pit stops. Unpacking and setting up and learning our way around Mongu. It has been a lot of change in a short period of time!
One thing we have already noticed is that we are incredibly privileged to be staying here at Liseli Lodge, our temporary home in Mongu. There are two students to a bedroom (most of which have ensuite bathrooms, with great shower pressure), each with a bed to ourselves, a kitchen to cook our own meals in, a living and dining area, lovely outside space, good electricity (most of the time), and even WiFi!
But there are many differences between us, the makuwas (white people), and the individuals we see once we literally "step out [our] front door."
Language differences - even if many here speak English, the Zambian accent can sometimes be hard to understand, as we're sure the Canadian accent can be for the Zambians!
Financial differences - even as we live in a beautiful compound, many live in huts or small houses made with wood and thatch.
Cultural differences - women wear dresses, chitenges (wrap-around skirts) or pants past the knee; men hold hands; and people seem to be less hurried, busy, and stressed.
Appearance differences - we stick out like a sore thumb! Which makes finding each other in crowds easy, but when we sit in a cab, we are pointed and starred at and children will smile and wave and run beside our vehicles. It is easy to see that we aren't from around here!
Physical differences - the compound we live in, like many of the building compounds in this area, has concrete block walls and a gate.
Although these differences have quickly become evident, we also recognize that, as Julianne's mom has been know to say: "people are people." It is easy to stick with only our Canadian nursing students and feel apprehensive about interacting with the people here. However, we are excited by the challenge of getting to know our new neighbours and learning about what unites us.
"The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out." ~JRR Tolkien
Janeva, Julianne, and Laura