Here we are… and here we go!!

Hello to all reading the blog, hope you are having a fantastic day.

After a violent reminder of my previous intestinal problems on a 5-seater Busch plane, and 2 ½ hours, we arrived in Zambezi. Smiling faces of Zags and Zambezians lined the runway to create a scene I’ll never forget. After dancing and listening to the Chilenga School choir, Daniel Li and I were led back to the convent by a group of 25 Zambezi children who I ‘presumed’ knew the way.

Once we all arrived to the convent, a quick volleyball session followed, the value of the term ‘Yaco akusi’ was learned, a few large spiders were named, and it was time for dinner! Mama Violet and Mamma Katendi treated us to a nshima, fresh chicken (shout out to Isaac and Caitlyn), Chinese lettuce, and some properly sliced apples. While the food was great and did wonders at settling my stomach, I could not help but notice a newly formed tension in the atmosphere. The conversation was smaller, camaraderie was at all time low, nerves were at all time. I, and many of my peers I learned, were uncomfortable. The unconditional love and praise we received was overwhelming and challenging to come to terms with. Father Baraza reminding us instead of trying to understand the high praise we received, but to be reciprocal of the excitement and appreciation that we were receiving. Many of us are in a setting that is completely unfamiliar to us. No longer in the tourist location of the Livingston, this feels more real than ever. As a group, I call us to return much of that praise and curiosity that we have received. The saying goes, “I can learn as much from you, and you can learn from me’ -anonymous. Keeping this in the back of our mind will enable us to be in accompaniment and to create those relationships with Zambians that we desire.

The following morning, I went to the kitchen just in time to see Josh and Ethan heading out for a run; I was able to jump on this train with two brilliant leaders who combined have nearly 20 years of experience in Zambezi – I was excited. I was quiet as I observed my new environment for the next three weeks, unfamiliar sights and sounds stole my attention – the voices of choirs around each block was quite the touch. I was amazed that even after two years, Josh was being greeted hellos from local. Furthermore, Josh mentioned a story about a Zambezi man that had a polaroid picture of himself with a Gonzaga student in his shirt pocket who hadn’t been on the trip for 6 years! This made me excited for our potential to make a lasting impact in Zambezi through a commitment to relationships and endless learning.

Returning from the run, I was met with a wonderful oatmeal bar put on by Zags who woke up early in the morning to prepare the feast. In the moments following splitting into our teams (health, business/leadership, education, computers), I witnessed a great sight. A majority of my classmates were journaling and reading away, which was sweet! A reminder that I am surrounded by a bunch of curious students that are in the process of growing themselves.

After a 45 min meet up with the health team, the excitement and nervousness for our first class is officially brewing. Today fellow students got the opportunity to check out the market, read + journal, and play basketball at the nearby court (we even have a game set up for Tuesday!). In a couple of hours, we live for homestays, were we will be staying with a local family for the night. Exciting times of tension and growth are upon us, here we go!   

Preston Matossian ’19 

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5 Responses to Here we are… and here we go!!

  1. Barb Haas says:

    Thank you for this blog! I’m sure I am not the only one (parent, friend, loved one, etc.) who is so grateful to be able to feel just a tiny bit that we are along for the ride. Thank you for opening up to this experience and letting us all peek into your world.

    I love my Zag and I am so proud of all of you for taking on this experience. If we choose comfort we often miss out on the opportunity for growth. I hope you continue to put yourselves into those uncomfortable moments and thrive!

    Love you Rachel Haas – you are the bomb-dot-com!! 😉

  2. Patty Helgesen says:

    I can’t wait to read the blog each day! It is so fun to get a tiny glimpse of your experience and each one of you has done a great job putting us there with your stories! I can only imagine what it must be like to experience it firsthand! What a gift each of you are getting to be able to experience and challenge yourself with something so unfamiliar! Soak up each experience!

    Love you Annika! We miss you! Love Mom, Dad, Alyssa and Lucy

  3. Erika Brown says:

    Thanks for the reflection, Preston. I appreciate the way you began to dissect that unsettling feeling upon entering a new culture and community, I hope you continue to lean into that discomfort. I loved to hear about your run with Josh and Ethan. I have heard so many stories that come from those morning jogs and I’m sure there are more to come from your time with them.

    Chloe- thinking about you always. I hope that this experience so far has brought you challenge along with comfort in knowing this is where you’re supposed to be right now. I’m so excited for you. P.S. On a super unrelated and unnecessary note- we are now car twins… be prepared for that (virtual weird face and noise followed by a hug)

  4. Bridget Shoenberger says:


    I am glad to hear you are sinking into the uncomfortable that follows such a welcoming. I remember being in your same place and wondering what on earth I had done to receive such a welcome. I hope you continue to explore and reflect and am wishing you the best in this next part of your journey!

    Daniel Li looking fresh as ever in this pic. I am so excited to continue hearing about your trip through the blog and can’t wait for you to have all the experiences these next few weeks will give you. Sending lots of love from back home and am glad to hear you survived the bungee jumping!
    Lots of love
    Bridget Shoenberger

  5. Kelen says:

    Preston & Zags, welcome to Zambezi! I remember those initial nerves and many “firsts” when arriving. Preston I’m sorry to hear about some sickness on the bush planes – that’s like worst case scenario for sure. I’m glad the mamas prepared you a high class meal for night one to feel a bit rejuvenated – what a kind welcome! Something you and Regan both wrote about sparked this proverb Fr. Baraza kept telling me when I was in Zambezi, it goes like this:

    Every morning in Africa a Giselle wakes up. It knows it has to run so fast; otherwise it will become the food of somebody. Every morning a lion wakes up and knows that it has to run so fast, otherwise it will die of starvation. And in this case it is not a question of if it is the Giselle or the lion. The fact is that when morning comes, you better start running.

    Sit in the comfort and uncomfort, but also don’t hesitate to just run with what’s in front of you. I’ll be praying for you all as you foster relationship with your host families, prepare for your first week of classes, familiarize yourself with the walk to the market, practice luvale, and get into routine; stay stoked and eager.

    Alea- I just looked up “Zambezi Environmental Issues” in google scholar just to channel some good vibes your way. Thank you for your post, it was beautiful. In recognizing your desire for construction yet gift to also be calm and adaptable – know that I am praying for you as you transition from Livingston to the ambiguity of Zambezi. Enjoy sharing your authentic smile and self.

    Leila- I’m thinking about you today. Enjoy holding close those who are so eager to know you. You are beautiful.

    Chloe- I can’t believe you’re in the convent and in Zambezi right now, that’s insane! You’re so good at “being” where you are – I’m trying my best to channel that over here, it’s not as easy as you make it seem. Cherish the beginning of a new space that loves you. My heart feels close to yours today.


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