When I wake up in America, I roll out of bed at the last possible minute. I trudge over to the bathroom with my hair an absolute mess and peer into the mirror seeing the disaster that needs to be fixed before I can leave the privacy of my house. In Zambia, my routine Is almost the same, except there is no mirror when I need to look at myself within the convent. I came to Zambia in hopes of finding my passion again and reflecting on who I have been thus far, without the help of my American habits. Literally, I could walk out of the convent with no idea that I had a booger the size of Pluto coming out of my nose, but I trust my peers… I think. No, I do, my fast friends have shown me myself through their own gracious eyes and have reminded me off the person I wanted to become when I was little Kalie. While in the markets I see glimpses of myself in windows, small mirrors, and cool fridge doors that hold my coveted Coke. Yes, by God’s grace they have it here. Zambians have also shown me who I am in their laughter at my jokes, absolute compassion from the moment we stepped off the plane, and vulnerability in their stories. They have all made me look inward instead of outward about who I want to be, both while I’m here and when I leave.
So, who do I want to be? Hard question, right? I want to be like the Zambian women who come three times a week to help us clean our clothes, even as they help wash away our misinterpretations of the different world we have entered. They smile as I give them my clothes with the dirt and failures of my day all over them, and they wipe away my dirty slate and allow me to grow through trying again.
I want to be like Wendy, who sells beautifully colored chitenge in the market and makes us feel welcome in the village. Every piece she gets is unique and has gone through a journey that makes them what they are. Embodying their hardships and bumps along the way until they are sold to a pair of hands that appreciates and cherishes them for what they truly are, beautiful.
I want to be like Eucharia, who treats us like her own children after only meeting us two times. Being our Mama in the hospital and offering her services to us to make sure that our work can be as valuable as possible even though she has the world on her shoulders. Truly a power woman.
I want to be like the Zambians who bring their own computers so that others in their community can learn about how to use them. I want to be like Mama Katendi, who creates the most heartwarming food with her student assistants, giving us the positivity and energy we need to thrive in the day ahead. I want to be like Jessie, the tailor who can take my two-piece set dream and make it a reality with her sewing machine, seeing visions and listening with understanding. I want to be like Josephine who takes time out of her day to teach us her language and culture so that we can gain perspective and understanding. I want to be like my peers who will never shy away from an adventure and who take the time to look out for me, seven of which even popped their heads in while I was writing this. I want to be like the kids who cheer on our sunset whiffle ball game from “behind the wall,” supporting us and our competitive game without fail.
Finally, I want to celebrate like the family in town who welcomed a new baby into the world today. Welcoming random “chindeles” including Eva, Emily, and Mackenzie, from the market into their dance party and teaching us how to, “Move your hips more, like this!”. Too often I pass over the little wins as I look forward to reach the next, but by slowing down these Zambians created a community and joy that I have never seen before.
I know that noticing these things is just the first step into making the leap from my life before Zambia to the life I want to live after this. Carrying this over won’t be easy or perfect, I am a human after all. However, I call out to all of you readers to please remember this when I return and challenge me to live out my goal when I forget where I came from. Reflecting in Zambia isn’t conventional or comfortable, which is what makes it such a liberating opportunity to find who I want to be.
Big hug, little kiss, little hug
Class of 2022
Reading this was incredibly moving. I loved reading about all of the amazing people you are meeting. It sounds like you guys are having an amazing and life changing experience! I cant wait to read about all of your adventures!
Sending love from Delft,
Ps. Im glad you found your Coke, I was worried!
ahhh kalie!! reading this is like having you tell a story at home. i’m so incredibly happy that you are enjoying yourself as much as you are. it’s thrilling to hear your words, even if it’s just through a blog post, and hearing how you are changing into a better person throughout your time in zambezi. this experience is truly once in a lifetime, and you are living to the fullest! stay safe and i love you the mostest
miss and love you kk. I’m happy to see you finally learn how to dance. I’m glad to see you having such a great time. Enjoy it and come back soon.
Your loving brother, Ethan
I am also very happy to see that she has been getting dance lessons hahaah!! Love you kalie 😉
Kalie, this was beautiful!! I love hearing about all of the people you have met and what an impact they are having in your life and who you want to be. It is amazing! I love that you are dancing as you rejoice with the new family who welcomed a new baby into the family! I am blessed to know you have a “Mama” that is there caring for you! I am thankful that you like your new pants and that you have Coke to drink! I am so happy that you are gaining perspective, appreciating beauty in new styles of clothing, and recognizing power from other women like Eucharia, Wendy, Jesse and Mama Katendi! God is putting so many amazing people in your life and I am so happy to hear that your heart is open to find what He wants to teach you from each person. I am so thankful to hear about your adventure and so grateful that you have such a fantastic team of support from Zambia.
We love you and miss you more than you can imagine! Huge hugs and kisses,
P.s. Josh…she is pealing away her onion!!
Love your post, Kalie It sounds like you are all learning early that it is the relationships you form that will truly shape your experience. Also loved your photos – possibly the only time I’ve ever seen Mackenzie dance! You go, girl!
Hi my love,
I am so glad I got to read this. I am so excited to hear all the stories when we see each other again. I can imagine you are making amazing connections and spreading your contagious energy and unconditional love with everyone around you. You may be my younger cousin but I look up to you and aspire to be you in many ways. I hope you know that everyone back home and in Washington is cheering you on and are so proud of you. I love you more than words can say. See you soon booty ;).
Your favorite eldest cousin,
So great to hear from you, Kalie It sounds like you’re having a wonderful experience. How I would have loved to be with you when you were so close to the giraffes. Continue to have fun and make a difference which I know you will with your positive, mental attitude. Love you so much
Kalie babes! I’m so proud of you. You have such a way with words! You’re so amazing and you’re killing it!! I cannot wait to hear ALL about it when you get home!! Counting down the seconds. Love and miss you
WITH LOVE, Katie 🙂
Kalie I love this! I love that you are taking/making the time to be intentional and reflect on this amazing opportunity. I love how you are ‘paying attention’ to your environment and every beautiful person you come into contact. I will take your challenge and will continue to remind you to be like the amazing women that be have inspired you when you return to the states. God is continuing to do great things with you.
On a side note, does this mean you are going to start getting up early?
Love you girl and so happy you are able to be in Zambia!
We laughed. We cried. Thank you for sharing your words with us, Kalie!
We are grateful to be introduced to the people of Zambezi through your stories. Their impressions on your soul will be everlasting.
Kalie! I’m Chloe, and I went to Zambia in 2019 (with Ethan Kane, shout out!). My favorite thing to talk about is humanness – how incredibly raw, vulnerable and challenging it can be, while also being electric and joyous. I see that through your writing today. I fiercely applaud you for recognizing the ways in which you’re struggling, and also the ways that you’ve living into new habits with grace and resilience. Zambia is a gift that continues to give even after you’re back home, so live deeply into the small moments. Those memories will serve you for far longer than 5 weeks. My senior year poetry professor told me that a good poem allows you to live twice. In a similar way, a good Zambezi memory allows you to live and feel it over and over. If you have a day full of hardship or lack presence, continue to give yourself grace – you’ve all embarked on a difficult journey and again, you’re only human! Though through that hardship is where the relationships you lean on with each other can thrive. I am still best friends with the people I chose to invest in while in Zambia. You got this humans!
Abbey, I’ve been going to yoga and devoting some of my practices to you. Joe and I miss you dearly in the mornings! Sending you all my love! I am bringing home a puppy this upcoming Sunday, so our hangouts will have a +1!
Josh – I hope you’re carrying on the legacy of the dog in Djibouti.
Jeff – I remember the first time we met was in the Spokane airport welcoming Father Yona here and you asked me to coffee soon after that. Zambia continues to give! I can’t wait to reconnect when you return.
Are all of you English majors? Minors?
Thank you all for sharing. More than just sharing, really. You pull us in. You make us feel nostalgic for somewhere we’ve never been. And for those who have been there, surely you rekindle their memories and bring the magic of their experiences more to the surface of their day. It’s impressive!
Blaine, we are at The Barn and all is well. We miss you–I keep putting out 4 placemats, 4 towels–but mostly we are thrilled that you get this opportunity. Love you!
Amazing, amazing, amazing! Your story-telling is marvelous and the content of it even marvelous-er (truly worthy of a bad grammar acclamation)! I’m so thrilled that you’re smack in the middle of this amazing place, that you’re so present to the small details of it and what all those details could mean for you. I’m praying for you and I am FOR you! Big hug little kiss, Ignacio (uncle Kent)
Katie, It was great to read of your experience and reflections. May you continue to learn and grow. Thank you for sharing, it is exciting and sometimes a little intimidating, at the same time.
We don’t know you well but you are family and family love and care for one another.
Aunt Gloria Van Zee
Kalie, I got this link (Dancing in the mirror) from “a mom friend of a young student, through a friend”, what an incredible set of experiences, writings, and prose!. Through life and circumstance, I was able to live and be a part of other people’s life and family for short periods of time, as I was growing up, they became life’s lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom, and they stayed with me throughout my life, as cherished experiences. Treasure yours, they will live in your soul forever.
Wow! Thank you for your words Kalie!! It seems like this trip is proving that your world is expanding, your sense of self is being honed, and your outlook on what is just, true and of worth is being deepened! Keep writing and looking for ways that He is growing you more into who He wants you to be!! Cheering for you from Fort Wayne!! Lots of Love! Tia Tammy
Kalie, this is absolutely beautiful writing, and I it made me feel connected to my wonderful bestie/roommate even from so far away. I miss seeing your chaos when you would get out of bed every morning, and am hyped to hear you still are getting your coca cola fix! So proud of you and all you will do during what sounds like an incredibly rich and formative experience.
SO much love, Anna
Kalie, honestly almost teared up reading this. So happy for you and so excited for your wonderful journey ahead, both in life and emotionally!! Big big hug and lots of love!!
All my love and well wishes,
Beautifully written Kalie. It’s wonderful to read all the lessons learned thus far.
You just never stop finding ways for us to be proud of you do you. I’m guessing that as great as your report was it’s just not possible to convey the sounds, smells and feelings you have over there. Keep up the good work for our Lord.
Love you always
Gramps and Grandma
I must admit, Kalie, that your prose are a welcome repose for me who is weary of the doldrums of daily grind here in the States. I pray you continue to discover your passion and gifts and bring them back with you.
Celebrating this experience with you,
Hey Kalie! I love how you are making the most of every opportunity in front of you! I love that you’re having this experiences, but more importantly, I’m so excited that you get to share YOU with so many more people. Grow with each opportunity. Grow others with each encounter you have. God is good, all the time. All the time…God is good!
Love you SOOO much!