Once again, the Zags are in Zambezi! And at long last, Zambezi is more than an abstract prediction or our final destination, but rather a new reality and home. Our group remains in shock and awe of the community we are beginning to accompany.
If today, our first full day in Zambezi, is emblematic of the rest of this trip, I may just stay. It started with a run to the airstrip, where we welcomed our straggling faculty members Abbey and Catherine. Eva then a led a full abs circuit in the courtyard as our adoring fans, the children of Zambezi, watched on. After a full breakfast I walked 100 yards down the road to play soccer in the sand and the sun with the best 12-year olds I have ever seen. After my team casually lost 8-0, I searched for Jazmine unsuccessfully in the markets, so that we could buy needed but elusive tomato paste. We met and organized our search at lunch, but before I left, Mama Katendi handed me a knife, a bowl, and pointed to three chickens. As instructed, I quickly cut the heads off our dinner. Jazmine and I finally found our desired tomato paste in the ninth store we visited. After a long day, homework continued with reading about the principles of accompaniment and the drawing of a personal map of Zambezi. I can only hope to offer something in return to the glorious welcome we have received from this wonderful corner of the world.
We may have only seen the tip of the African iceberg called Zambezi, but we have already begun reflecting upon our early experiences here and the continued realization that we are on display: our culture, our skin. The children flock towards us in hopes of studying and feeling our strange hair, the skin of our hands, and even our ability to have fun. Only one thing is for certain; we cannot match them on the football field. Adults watch us and greet us or call out “Chindele!” or “white person.” Some occasionally inquire about the upcoming classes we’ll be teaching or eagerly beckon us into their shops. At all times I feel the need to represent where I come from but also try to adapt to this very new place. The overwhelming overstimulation of constant attention drags my consciousness in new directions, searching to find a solid base to work from.
Life within the compound and the lessons we learn from classmates and professors are hopefully beginning to build the base we need to thrive in Zambezi. We must begin to adapt to this small home to make it our own. We now rotate through needed duties like cooking and writing this blog, among other things. Our first reflection in Zambezi asked us what our hopes, fears, needs, and intent were for the next few weeks. While the answers differed, I could empathize with answers of each one of my classmates. There is so much we do not know or understand. Yet, we carry on and while each day brings new adventure with new people, we face adversity as a group and I am confident we are capable of accompanying this Zambezi community towards a hopeful future.
As we orient ourselves to this new reality, I am forced to ask myself what my purpose really is here. What gives me the right to teach something here in the first place? Our groups are meant to provide something needed in the community, but I ponder what I can teach people that I know so little about. I do not feel as if I have the answers to my questions, and many times even what questions to ask. There is still time to navigate and potentially answer these questions in our new home, but who knows where they will come from?
My first full day in Zambezi was wonderful, but I know we are here to accomplish something more than that. I hope to find it. I know we are here to accompany a community in hopes of learning and maybe teaching something new, but I and maybe others, must continue to search for our place in that process.
Our “vacation” in Lusaka and Livingstone is officially over as we begin to experience something we were always committed to but never fully believed would arrive. The nervous tension, ever growing as we neared Zambezi, shattered the moment we landed at the airfield and is now replaced by the vibrant vibration of Zambezi and our excitement to begin our work here. The grounding forces of the experiences and people that led us to this special place will hopefully lead us to new ones as we learn and adapt to Zambezi.
Paal Bredal, Gonzaga Class of ‘22
What kind of chicken did you prepare? Oh my god what an experience! What a thoughtful, honest and inquiring blog! Thank you for sharing your journey with us and making us feel right there with you guys.
So glad to hear you have all safely arrived in Zambezi! Can’t wait to see and and read more. Thank you all for your thoughtful posts.
Gooooood morning chindeles! My name is Kelly Norris, and I am a blast from Gonzaga in Zambezi’s past as a 2009 alum. Josh, I am thrilled to read about this year’s journey. Please greet and extend my warmest hellos and best wishes to Father Dom, Jessie and her family, Mama Kuwatu and her family, and Timmers’ family if you see them.
During Father Dom’s first trip to Spokane, he and I sat down to pen an article, “One Among Them” for Gonzaga’s OneWorld magazine. I wanted to send you a small quote from it, as I feel like his words are more powerful than mine ever will be as you begin your journey in Zambezi:
“A few years ago, some of my parishioners came to me asking for my help in constructing a permanent building for worship in their community. I was delighted to help, and saw their desire to construct their own church as a step forward for Zambezi. However, my community wanted others to finance and build the church for them. I believe that we are richer than any donor, we have our hands that together could build this church. I knew that if each community member brought one brick, we could begin to construct a foundation. If each community member brought two bricks, we could construct walls. We need help that will empower us to stand on our own two feet instead of help that will provide us a temporary crutch. We must invest in Africa’s future as if we are branches on the same tree; we are all connected, and can enable each other to be self-sustaining. If everyone brings just one brick, we can work together to uplift and support Africa.”
You are now one among them. What is your brick?
You stand on the shoulders of those who came before you. I am thrilled to know that each of you are standing on mine. Take care, and much love.
Glad the group made it to Zambezi safely. Looking forward to reading more on how the groups adapts to everyday life in Zambezi. Change can be uncomfortable sometimes but praying the group remains teachable to hopefully get answers to some of your thought provoking questions.
Also, thank you so much for mentioning you & Jazmine’s search for tomato paste. It brought fond memories of us cooking together.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Wow, we can only imagine the sights, smells, and sounds of the village. Thank you for continuing to share your stories here so we can share in your experiences.
Oh, you guys, we are sending big love as you prepare for your first day of work/teaching on Monday!!
We just LOVE the intentional living and learning you all are doing. It is so inspirational for us here in the states to do the same as we love each day. To have those glasses in everyday and never forget to see, live and learn from every experience.
Enjoying everyone’s insightful posts and now the stories coming about daily life in Zambezi! As you accompany this Zambezi community “towards a hopeful future”, I would note that they are also accompanying you – enlightening and learning from one another. It is possible that in the long run they may impact your lives more than you impact theirs. Keep asking questions.