Full Hearts

Impromptu 80s dance party while doing
the brekkie dishes.
(L-R: Dee, Bella, Kylie, Clare, and Grace S.)

Musana Mwane blog readers!  

Yesterday was a hard day for many, so we woke up today with hope for more positivity in this beautiful Friday! Clare, Dee, Grace S., and I woke up early to go for a run. While we ran, Sierra, Grace E., and Bella cooked up some eggs, oats apples/oranges/bananas, and French toast. It was DELICIOUS!! This fueled us and got us prepared for the day.

The vibes continued to be good as the dishes were washed and Taylor Swift was played all throughout (friends and family at home please keep me updated on the Eras tour). Today is also our 13th day of this trip, which is Taylor’s lucky number so things are bound to go right.

Next on the schedule was the business class led by Megan, Bella, Kendall, and Dee. They talked about core values and everyone was very engaged and excited about all of the discussions. They also took some personality tests and talked about social styles. While they taught, Kylie, Genesis, Hattie, Maddie, and I all went to the market to pick up some skirts that Genesis had made and to buy some chitenge (fabric). At 12:00 Mama Josephine came to teach us Luvale/Lunda. We learned a lot of common phrases and two songs. Mama Josephine is a great teacher and did a wonderful job of being patient and elegantly explaining the pronunciation of words. Once class was done, Clare, Bella, Kylie, and Kendall immediately broke into improv song and dance performances that were so good you would think they were actually choreographed.

For lunch, we had a quinoa salad and a fruit salad that was so lovingly prepared by Mama Katendi and Mama Violet. We were all silent because it was so good. The Mamas never miss.

After lunch it was time for dishes once again and the playlist for this dance/cleaning party was 80s music. We heard songs like Super Trouper, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and One Way or Another. Is there a better way to bond than to boogy? The answer is no. By now it was 2:30 and it was time for Kris, Jeff, Hattie, Maddie, Kylie, and me to head to the Zambezi boarding school and for Grace E, Clare, Genesis, Sierra, and Grace S to teach their health class. We had so much fun at the school observing a spelling class, drama class, and a debate class. Getting to see how Zambians run their school system was really cool and all of the teachers that we met were incredibly passionate about education. At the same time, the health class had 14 attendees today and their focus for their lesson was sutures.

Once we were all back together we played fun games like Slap Jack, drew, and danced some more (because duh) while we waited for dinner. We had a dish with potatoes in eggs (like a french-fry quiche) alongside rice, apples, oranges, and leftover quinoa with a newly purchased and very popular chip seasoning sprinkled all over.

Today was overall very good, but we did find out some pretty sad news. Genesis will be leaving us tomorrow to head back home due to a family emergency. We will miss her so, so much and wish she could stay, but also wish her the safest journey home. We were able to say goodbye to her by getting all sappy and partaking in a very sweet group hug. We spent a lot of time together as a group today and I think that it was really nice after having such a hard day yesterday. One recurring theme that I have noticed with this group is that no matter what any of us are going through, we are there for each other. We check in with one another and allow ourselves to be unapologetically vulnerable. This to me, is a very rare and special group of women (+Jeff) and experience that we get to share with one another.

To my family/friends and boyfriend at home. I miss you all terribly and can’t wait to show you all 1000000000 pictures when I get back. Please prepare yourselves. I’m thinking of making a slideshow. Attendance is mandatory. I love you all!! 

Lauren Benham, WSU class of ’25

PS for those following us from afar. Tomorrow night we will be away for our homestays, so check back on Sunday for the next update!

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7 Responses to Full Hearts

  1. Sherry Cibula says:

    I do LOVE the updates to hear the day-to-day goings-on. You gals are all testing your metal over there and we are sending so much love and support to you all. Believe in yourselves and trust in each other. I can’t imagine how different everything is there. You are an amazing group.

    So much love,
    (Clare’s) Mom

  2. Mark and Susan Harrold says:

    What an exciting trip you ladies (and Jeff) are having—-and thanks for sharing it with us through your blogs—they are the closest we will get to Zambia——also are enjoying the pictures posted with the blogs—-we admire your moxies and enthusiasm—-we pray for your continued enjoyment, learning and safety—-Susan and Mark Harrold—-Hattie’s grandparents

  3. Blaine Atkins says:


    I am glad to hear y’all are growing in vulnerability, that is special and must be very comforting while in a still somewhat unfamiliar place 🙂

  4. Kelly Hawkins says:

    Thanks for the shout out LuLu!!! Love and miss you too kid! ♥️♥️

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for all the blogs!! We are so happy that we can follow your adventures.

    Maddie, can’t wait until you’re home to do the dishes!!

  6. Katy Rettenmier says:

    Ladies — (and Jeff)

    You all sound like you are really deep diving and settling into the world of Zambezi. I hope you guys know that reading each of these blog posts has brought me to tears – it’s bringing back all my senses as if I’m right there again. Each little detail you all share: the sound of roosters in the morning (and all the time), the smell of fish in the market, the inevitable feeling of sand in your shoes; it’s all so real and active in my mind. Well done for reaching out and pursuing those vulnerable relationships. Those are so important. Those are what change you the most. Keep going, Zam friends, I am proud of you all!

    For those of you teaching the Business and Leadership class, could you please tell your students that Katy is thinking of them? I hope Julius isn’t giving you guys too much trouble 😉

    Much love and mwane mwane,

    Katy Rett, Zam Zag ‘22

  7. Audrey Buller says:

    Lauren—thanks for a great reflection! I’m glad that today was better morale for everybody!

    Zags—embrace all that your homestay experiences are! This is a beautiful opportunity to live alongside a family even for just a night and I am really excited to hear about your experiences!

    Kisu mwane,
    Audrey Buller

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