Ups and Downs

The Gonzaga-in-Zambezi education team meets with the English Department at Zambezi Boarding School

Good morning from Hattie and the rest of the Gonzaga-in-Zambezi crew! I
apologize for the delay in this blog post—right when we went to post it at
about 11 o’clock last night, half of it deleted, and we decided to call it for
the night. This unfortunate end to the day was one of a few lows in our first
day of the health, education, and business programs—a day of ups and downs.

The morning started off strong with a group of runners and a nutritious
breakfast provided by Kylie, Kendall, and Genesis. After breakfast, Kris drove
Kylie, Maddie, Lauren, and I to Chilenga school in time for 3rd period at 8:40
a.m. I had the privilege of sitting in on an 8th grade math class, where the
teacher uncomfortably joked about how he still used chalk “like in the
19th century” instead of a Dry-Erase marker. Overall, however, the content
and structure of the class was similar to math classes that I’ve assisted in at
my former primary school, and I enjoyed watching and helping as the students
practiced problems on inequalities and solving for variables.

After the class ended, I wandered past the school buildings to a dusty field
on the schoolgrounds where there was a ton of activity. Apparently, the primary
school had cancelled classes for the day and was hosting a sports day instead.
Students played volleyball, soccer, and net ball, a game similar to basketball.
I found Lauren and Maddie, who will usually teach 6th grade English and Music
classes, engaged in an intense game of net ball with other girls. I joined in
and tried to adhere to the confusing rules. I look forward to playing more
games with these students and other locals throughout our time here.

At 10 a.m. Kendall, Dee, and Bella started their first business and leadership
class. Though the turnout was smaller than expected today, Mama Josephine and
her friend Mama Christine, who both attended the lesson, raved about the session when we came across them later in the market. The business team also shared that the attendees seemed engaged and were happy with the ratio of male and female community members in

Clare, Grace S., Grace E., and Sierra headed to the Mother and Child Clinic
this morning. Unfortunately, they were not able to do much today because of a
lack of supplies, the language barrier, and merely the lack of activity going
on in the clinic today as they were mostly scheduling patients. Nevertheless,
the health team did a great job observing and asking difficult questions. I
felt privileged to join them, along with Jeff, Kris, Lauren, and Maddie, at one
of Jeff’s “secret” spots—an open-air shop where we bought cool drinks
and muffins and debriefed our mornings under the shade of the thatched roof. I
look forward to learning more about the health system here through the
experiences of my peers.

Originally, I was going to take a different approach with this blog, but
after reflecting with the whole group and learning about other’s experiences, I
realized that today unraveled many of our idyllic expectations and illuminated
the challenges of our programs and the difficulties of navigating uncomfortable

Despite these bumps in the road, however, joy and inspiration persisted. Kendall,
Bella, Kylie, and Lauren did some bomb reenactments of a Taylor Swift concert.
The group shared a ton of laughs while playing Best Story Wins before dinner. Mama
Katendi, Mama Violet, and Dee prepared a delicious traditional Zambian meal of
cabbage, nshima, and fried chicken (RIP Norman and Rockwell). The education
team was inspired by students’ engagement in drama, debate, spelling bee, and
writing projects at Zambezi boarding school.

The shiny veil of our expectations has been torn away to reveal a more
complicated and nuanced reality. We are settling into this unfamiliar place.
The sound of the rooster crowing early in the morning… and at any and every
other time of day. The flickering shadows of laundry hanging on the line. The
sight of Mama Katendi and Mama Violet cooking in the kitchen. The pungent smell
of fish in the market. The cold shower to rinse off several layers of sweat
before bed. The feeling of small sweaty hands held in our own. This place is starting
to feel like home.

And yet, I know that many of my peers are hitting a stage of slight homesickness,
and that the only reason I’m so content here is because I know I will return to
my comfortable life and loving family in a few weeks. I am so thankful for this
incredible opportunity and for the thoughts and prayers from family and friends
back home. Know that I am embracing this experience and look forward to sharing
it with you when I return. The group is doing well and greatly appreciates your
support and comments. Keep the love coming, and we’ll keep thriving!

Much love,

Hattie Harrold, ‘23

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8 Responses to Ups and Downs

  1. Halle Aparicio says:

    Hattie!! I miss you. Come here and give me a hug. You’re the bestest ever.

  2. Virginia Ehler says:

    Thank you for your honest reflection. We are thinking about you all.

    You stated, “I realized that today unraveled many of our idyllic expectations and illuminated the challenges of our programs and the difficulties of navigating uncomfortable situations.”

    You will all grow and learn so much from this experience and be challenged to come up with ideas how to change and improve situations in life as you continue to be dedicated to the process.

    Thank you for this reflection


  3. Jennifer W Akins says:

    It sounds like you are getting to know Zambezi as it presents itself to you one moment at a time. What a wonderful foundation for a real relationship! Thank you for sharing your journey!

  4. Audrey Buller says:

    Thank you for your honest reflection Hattie. There are certainly many ups and downs during this experience and your reflection is helping me to remember the nuances of the rose-colored glasses coming off in Zambezi. Keep up this thinking!

    Sending all my love to everybody!
    Audrey Buller

    P.S—Maddie I’m all moved into Notre Dame and the girl across the hall might have you beat for a Chaco tan!

  5. Elizabeth Ford says:

    Keep on thriving everyone! We think of you all and all the wonderful things you are accomplishing!

    Keep dancing maddie!!!

  6. Pamela Wittman says:

    What insightful and transparent recollections that will continue to deepen, I’m sure. Hattie, every day at mass…holding you and all you are doing up on the paten. Clearly, you are becoming more compassionate and loving and grounded. How grateful I am to eavesdrop on this experience all of you are having.
    (Chaco tan, haha)

  7. Gonza says:

    Thank you Hattie and all your colleagues for sharing your love and grace with the people your love and grace with the people of Zambia. Can’t wait to hear more about your experience especially when you come back. Meanwhile continue loving and serving as I continue keeping you in my thoughts and holding you in my poor prayers.

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