Surrender | Victoria Falls

Vic Falls
Zags in front of the misty falls

Victoria Falls is a waterfall on the Zambezi River and it is located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is one of the world’s largest waterfalls, with a width of 1708 meters. As a Washingtonian myself, there is pretty much only one other waterfall I could think to compare it to, which is Snoqualmie Falls. I cannot begin to describe my astonishment when we first walked up to the viewpoint to see the most grand, extraordinary sight I have ever laid eyes on. If I were to estimate, I would say that these falls could equate to about 50+ Snoqualmie Falls’ – and for my Washingtonian readers, you understand how massive that is!

Yesterday was quite a spectacular day! After a morning breakfast of eggs, sausage, and toast prepared by the lovely people at Fawlty Towers, our group headed off to see the famous Victoria Falls. This attraction has been something that we have all anxiously anticipated from the first walk to our hostel in which we could see mist in the distance and wondered: are those clouds low in the horizon? Or could that possibly be one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World?

From every single viewpoint, you can see a rainbow reflecting off the side of the falls, presenting a unique array of colors to the already magnificent view. The powerful “whoosh” of the water roared in our ears from any distance. We walked along a bridge crossing the canyon and felt the mist against our skin. To the right were dense clouds of mist that were thick enough to mask the enormous falls, and to our left was a wide canyon with a splendor of green plants and trees amidst the rock walls. Prior to walking to the closest viewpoint of the falls, Jeff had warned us that we would likely get a little wet from the mist, but our clothes would dry off in the sun. However, nothing could prepare us for the sheer power of these falls, showering us with every step. Upon reaching the viewpoint, everyone in the group couldn’t hide their faces of joy and amazement. We all just stopped and lifted our arms out into the falls, surrendering to its beauty and letting the rains completely take over us. We lifted our feet and jumped in the puddles just like little kids. Some of us embraced each other with hugs, while others stood in awe. This was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

From this joyous experience, most of the group headed to a bridge in the canyon that serves as a border from Zambia to Zimbabwe. This bridge also serves as an attraction for bungee-jumping, zip-lining, and swinging, which is what we were seeking to do. Around 1pm, after about a mile walk to the bridge we were met with some disappointing news: the staff had decided to take a break until 2pm and would continue their adventure operations after. Additionally, they were no longer serving any food. So, without any desire to walk all the way back to the market to get a lunch, we waited patiently and loaded up on granola bars and Coca Cola to fuel our tired and nervous selves.

And then it was time. Mackenzie, Emily, Ava, Tyler, Audrey and I all walked to the middle of the bridge for our terrifying free-fall. From our view, we could watch Eva, Jazmine, Joci, Sarah, Dugan, Andie, and Kalie zipline across the canyon from Zambia to Zimbabwe (quite literally!).

Bridge over the Zambezi River canyon

I was the very first one to jump off the bridge on a giant swing. With very little time to even process what was going on, the people working with this adventure company quickly strapped me in and dragged me out to the edge of the bridge. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to go. “Move your feet to the end!” They demanded, as I gripped their arms in terror. Just past the platform was a 413 foot descent into the canyon of the Zambezi River. One. Two. Three—Surrender.

I jumped, then fell. And fell some more. It felt like I was falling for eternity. Finally, when I was met with the cushion of the rope, I realized I wasn’t dying, but in fact flying in the most picturesque place I had ever seen. I spread my arms and legs out and screamed and laughed in delight. I couldn’t help but keep laughing. Looking up 413 feet above, I could see all my friends cheering me on. What a life this is!!

Tomorrow morning we embark on the real journey of this trip, as we will see what life outside of this tourist city looks like. None of us really know what to expect or how to prepare for this next step. But if there is one thing that we have learned thus far, it is that we just need to surrender and trust in the process. There are many things that are out of our control, but I believe each of us are here for a reason and our unique qualities are going to blend together beautifully in partnership with the community we meet in Zambezi. Thank you to everyone reading and keeping up with our journey, we can feel your support from many miles away. This is just the beginning of it all, and we could not be more excited.

–Katy Rettenmier, Gonzaga ‘24

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Lessons for Life, From the Bush

Group picture along the river with the infamous “Mr. T” and Lance on the far right

It has been an exciting two days! As I am writing this, we are in Livingstone unpacking from our safari adventure in Botswana’s Chobe National Park. It was the most beautiful, inspiring, and perspective-altering experience.

Our group formed in the SeaTac airport a little over a week ago, so we are still figuring out the group dynamic and building trust. These last couple of days has provided us the opportunity to go deeper with each other. We now have nicknames, inside jokes, and the first beginnings of mutual trust and respect. The safari was a beautiful environment for us to strengthen bonds, create lasting community, and soak up each other’s company before our departure for our pursuit of accompaniment in Zambezi’s community and culture.

Our journey started with a boat cruise on the Chobe River—led by the charismatic and beyond knowledgeable, Mr. T. Wildlife on the river is lively, harmonious, and thriving. Each animal has a role, and they play it perfectly. The boat and the open-air Land Cruiser tour provided an ideal environment to observe, record, and bond with the animals and each other.

The animals—on the river and in the park—were as majestic, enchanting, and enormous as they seem in photos and media. Chobe National Park has no shortage of impalas, elephants, and giraffes. In the beginning of our tour, our co-leader Abbey said something along the lines of, “Impalas are the McDonald’s of the bush.” She was right; it seemed like an Impala was never out of view for very long. However, I learned to appreciate their comforting presence as time went on.

We were lucky enough to see a pride of lions feasting after a freshly made kill of Cape buffalo. That whole first day we were on the hunt for lions. It was approaching dusk as we drove endless dirt roads tracking them, but things felt different as Mr. T slowed our vehicle and said he smelt a fresh kill (I’m telling you—this guy was a legend!). We began to see other vehicles parked alongside the road and slowly 3 male lions came into view. We were so close! As we moved further along, we saw the buffalo carcass and more lions feasting from it. I expected to feel more sad or disgusted by the act, but it truly was beautiful. Mr. T explained it well when he said, “the lions are grateful to the buffalo for providing food for the pride.” As we drove away, we saw two buffalos lying under a tree about 500 feet away grieving the loss of their loved one. It was tragic, but somehow peaceful. “Life on the bush,” said Mr. T.

As majestic as the lions were, they could not compare to my love for elephants. Elephants are amazing to see in real life, in the wild. It is clear, they are wise, loyal, and family-oriented. We saw countless baby elephants with their herd, and their mamas never failed to shield and protect their babies from outside influence. We could see them playing, teasing, and loving on one another. Trust me when I say, many tears were shed.

As we sat around the fire at night and asked each other questions. My peer Kalie poised a question to Mr. T. She asked why he chose to become a guide, and in classic Mr. T fashion he responded with, “because I see and learn something new every day.” That stuck with me. Mr. T is a lifelong learner, and I think we all could benefit from his wisdom and the lessons from the bush.

Our time on the safari was beautiful and amazing, but it was also reflective and challenging. There is nothing more pure than seeing mother nature in all her glory, and Chobe National Park provided us all an opportunity to grow and think deeply about our actions and behaviors. Abbey might have said it best—as she sobbed at the sight of baby elephants nursing from their mother—”why can’t everyone just recycle?”

The Animals on the bush can teach us all valuable skills, and I saw unique traits in each species that reminded me of our own characteristics and values:

The strength of lions to take down prey,
the loyalty of water buffalo to mourn their fallen mere feet from their predators,
the patience of hippos to bask in the sun and float in the water as a practice of self-care,
the trust of giraffes to follow their tower blindly,
the ambition of impalas to always seek the strongest mate, and
the love of elephants to protect their young from any outside disturbance.

I wish—for myself and our community—these traits throughout our journey to Zambezi and beyond.

Nicole “TANJ” Perry
Gonzaga ’23

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I’m an American.

The gang and our lovely tour guide, Memory, at the David Livingstone Museum. Sorry if the photo is squished; we can’t sort out the aspect ratio.

Hello from Livingstone! Today we had another busy schedule that continued to enlighten and challenge us. Again, we were encouraged to partake in genuine and, sometimes, difficult reflection, making our time here that more meaningful.

In the morning, after our lovely breakfast at Fawlty Towers, we participated in a guided tour at the David Livingstone Museum, just up the road from us. This tour was intended to last about two hours, but like any other valuable thing in life, it took time. More time than we initially gave it credit for. We left the museum four impactful hours later, and I was feeling both in awe and unease.

The tour included information on human evolution, cultural practices, Zambian history, and David Livingstone, a white, British missionary. He made three trips to Africa in his lifetime, passing away during his third, and eventually becoming the man that the city of Livingstone is named after. I came in with an expectation that David Livingstone, a colonizer, would be depicted with the same connotation that we hold for those individuals. However, he was held in a much more positive light. Not only is the museum named after him, but there is an entire section dedicated to him and his three excursions. For me, this was the beginning of a greater realization.

Throughout the entire tour, but especially David Livingstone’s section, our tour guide did an exceptional job providing the facts. She explained historical events, their effects, and the reactions met with them. And the level of knowledge that she shared – it left me speechless.

Multiple thoughts flew through my mind. First, there was not one point in the tour where I felt I was being told how to feel, or that information was not being shared. Yet, it also became clear the emotions held with each topic being discussed. We were receiving the truth – all the good, the bad, and everything in between. It was refreshing. Second, our tour guide was so incredibly knowledgeable of Zambian history. Granted, it is her job, but there was a uniqueness to the way she interacted with us and the history she presented that stood out as distinctly special.

At one point in the tour, we mentioned our upcoming journey to Zambezi, and her face lit up in response. She jokingly said, “take me with you!” this interaction was revealing in the fact that while we are having this spectacular opportunity to travel across the country, various Zambians do not have that same chance. But in no way are we any more deserving than our tour guide to have that experience. So, in that sense, it was a nice reminder of how privileged we are to see the things we’re seeing, and to feel the emotions we feel.

Leaving the museum, once the awe sunk in, I began to feel another realization. There has never been a point in my life where I could explain American history to the point our tour guide did. I simply do not know it well enough, nor have I carried a sense of urgency to thoroughly know it. But ironically, I believe that there is a significant importance on knowing history to grow from it – to learn from mistakes, and to celebrate the ways in which perseverance unfolds. Our tour guide provided a sense of pride for the history. I saw this pride especially when she was explaining the meaning of the Zambian flag. The colors – green, orange, black, and red – all represent something. Green for the agriculture, orange for the minerals, black for the black population, and red for the bloodshed spilled while fighting for independence. This importance for and pride of history shown by our tour guide fittingly manifests in her beautiful name, Memory.

This idea of being proud of one’s country is not foreign to me, nor would I say it is foreign to the rest of our group. However, I do believe there is a difference in what that means for us, especially in a foreign country. We all know the rude and ignorant American stereotype. We have seen it first-hand while we’ve been here – by other American travelers, and even ourselves, unintentionally. It is real, and it is something I expect our group to continuously tackle during our time here.

Later in our day, we made a trip to the Royal Livingstone Hotel, right on the edge of Victoria Falls. Here we had a traditional British High Tea with delicious sweets. On our way there, myself and seven others had a very genuine conversation with our van driver, Charlie. He spoke of his family, smiling with every word. He shared the importance of his grandmother, his Gogo, to him. He told us the wise advice she gave him when dealing with rude or inconsiderate customers, specifically American ones. Her advice was, “try to understand their perspectives and your life will be easier.”

I think it’s safe to say hearing that required a moment of thought afterwards. Such a simple sentence yet the intentionality behind it is so powerful. Taking that moment’s notice to try and understand one’s perspective, regardless of its connection to our own – it can change an interaction entirely for both parties.

Keeping that mentality in mind, we arrived at the hotel that is undoubtedly breathtaking and unlike anything most of us have seen before. The edge of the property is met with the rushing Zambezi River, Victoria Falls’ mythic mist is in sight, and animals such as giraffes, zebras, and impalas roam the grounds. The buildings were similar to ones in America, appearance wise. Honestly, it would be safe to say that we felt a form of familiarity when we were there. However, after that initial wave of excitement and wide-eyed curiosity, a few of us began talking about how the hotel did not even feel like the Zambia we have come to know so far.

Our group at the Royal Livingston Hotel, with the beginning of the Victoria Falls behind us.

After that, it became clear that staying in this hotel would mean easy access to a bubble that prevented any relationships with local cultures, locations, and people that have quite literally made our entire journey what it is thus far. What then, is the purpose of this hotel? To me, it did not feel like it was for the purpose of our trip – standing in accompaniment with others in which we are equally growing and benefiting; serving in tandem.

Then I thought of the museum and the conversation with Charlie. Memory showed so much excitement that we are going to Zambezi, unlike many other tourists who come. This is not to “pat us on the back” by any means, but to show the reality of the practice American tourism. It’s disappointing that it is not expected for Americans to want to know the culture, to want to immerse ourselves. And that disappointment is only amplified when asking Charlie if he experiences rude Americans often, and his answer is “yes.”

Our time here so far has introduced us to so many thoughts and emotions, but I feel that today has been the first day we’ve had to genuinely and directly address the implications involved with traveling as Americans. The assumptions about us our valid, but how do we challenge them? How do we serve in tandem when the expectation is us wanting to be served? I’m excited to find the answers to these questions, to tackle all the challenges, and to grow with the experiences.

Kiso Mwane, Eva Palmer (’23)

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A whirlwind welcome to Zambia

We were able to attend a panel discussion on arts in Zambia with two current university students who grew up in Zambezi. A nice connection to our history in Zambezi and Zambia’s present vibrancy.

Yesterday morning at breakfast, Jeff asked us who wanted to be the first one to write a post for the blog. I remember thinking “wow, whoever volunteers for this is so brave, I could never do something like this,” as starting off this blog for our Zambia journey is a lot of pressure, something that makes me uncomfortable. However, for some reason I look to my side and my right hand is up in the air, and I see Jeff with a big smile on his face saying, “Sarah will be starting us off!”.

This is what this journey is about, the uncomfortable. Pushing ourselves outside of our own comfort zones is how we will truly connect with the communities we encounter, and what will let us make the most out of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

It is now our 3rd day in Zambia and as I write this, I am on a 7-hour bus ride full of Zambian individuals, along with our Gonzaga cohort, with the sound of popular African music playing in the background. We are on a journey from Lusaka to Livingston, giving me a chance to reflect on the whirlwind that has been the past 2 days of rich cultural and learning experiences, completely surpassing what I expected the start of this trip to be like.

After a long day of travelling to Zambia and keeping ourselves busy to overcome the combination of sleep deprivation from the two days of traveling and jet lag, we began our first full day in Lusaka sharing a meal of fruits, avocados, teas, and other assortments of breakfast items prepared by the wonderful staff at our hostel. We reflected over what we’ve experienced upon arrival, talking about the pure smiles of everyone we’ve met to the intrusive feeling lots of us have felt, of being foreigners in a country’s whose culture is very different than the one we grew up in. We finished our breakfast talking about our excitement to begin establishing connections and learning about life here, packed up and hopped on our bus to tour the University of Zambia.

We met up with Michael and Gilbert, old friends of Jeff and Josh, who both grew up in the Zambezi community, moving to Lusaka for university. We began with introductions, learning that Michael is studying engineering at University of Lusaka and Gilbert is graduate school studying medicine at a nearby university.

As soon as we stepped through the gates of the university, I was shocked when I realized that we were on a college campus, followed by a sense of guilt when I realized my surprise stemmed from my privilege of being able to go to a private school in the United States. The entrance was rather bare with a few trees on the dirt pavements, with a couple old buildings to the side with laundry lining the sides.

As I continued to observe my surroundings, I saw students with their books in hand, walking down campus talking to their friends. I immediately could see myself walking down bulldog ally talking to my friends about classes and whatever was going on that day. I experienced my second uncomfortable element of surprise, that these students were my age. However, I later realized that although they were college students just like us, Zambians that go to college make up a mere 1% of the population. I found it difficult for me to relate to their experience when since birth, it was pretty much certain that I would get to go to college when here going to college, something that I think a lot of us take for granted, is extremely rare.

We continued to tour the campus and Michael and Gilbert answered questions from us. I asked Michael what the most popular major is, and he answered by telling us that it depends because people only major in things that guarantees them a job. This makes health and education very common because these fields usually have more job openings. This made me think a lot about how majors work in the U.S. Of course, people typically chose majors that will help them get a job after college however, due to how different the job market is at home compared to here, we still have a large variety of options. I never realized how lucky I was just to be able to major in what interests me and that not everyone has that privilege.

After the tour, we were supposed to have a quick lunch and then go to a talk at an art gallery. However, in Zambian fashion, that quick lunch lasted two hours. By the time we were done the gallery was almost closed. However, we were able to make it to the last, supposably couple minutes, of the talk which of course lasted about another hour. There were extremely intellectual artists, who were able to take their art to extreme depths. Upon learning that here was an American group going to a rural African village in the audience, one of the artists made a comment about the importance of waiting for people to ask us what we’re doing there. This stood out to me and another member of our Gonzaga group; Tyler, so we decided to ask him about it after the talk.  

This man is named William or Miko, which he told us means cooking sticks. He explained to us that it’s important to let people come up to us and ask what we’re doing there instead of just coming into the community and telling everyone what we’re doing there. He said upon getting there, people are going to want to get us a chair and food or drink before they sit down with us and ask what we’re doing there. There’s a cultural importance of letting people host us and ask about who we are. In a way, we are foreigners interrupting their daily life so it’s important to keep this in mind as a sign of respect.

His last comment was a suggestion to us to ask others how much money they make in a year. He said they will not know, which shows how little people care about money compared to the money focused mindset in the U.S.

William then introduced us to an American women named Betty. She was born in the U.S and came to Zambia to work for 6 months but ended up never leaving. She explained to us about how she fell in love with the culture and how community oriented it is, as opposed to the mindset of individualism encompassing the U.S.

She gave us advice for how to approach the rest of our time in Zambia and emphasized the importance of listening in their culture. She encouraged us to listen to everyone’s story and to always continue asking questions, with being careful that we’re not only talking about ourselves.

In these past few days, we’ve learned so much about the importance of the simple act of learning others’ stories. I look forward to continuing that as we journey to Livingston, our last stop before our 3 week stay in Zambezi.

Sarah Barsky
Gonzaga 2024

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Tired but thrilled!

To our dear family, friends, and supporters: we’ve arrived in Lusaka. After over 20 hours in the air and well over 10 more in airports, we arrived safely in Zambia this morning. We met up with longtime friend of the Zags, Dominic Mizhi Sandu, had a chance to change money and shared a wonderful first lunch. All are well and looking forward to a night of rest after a dinner in Lusaka’s historic Show Grounds. We are excited to share this journey with you through our blog and will start posting daily tomorrow!

Kisu mwane,

Jeff Dodd

Assistant Professor of English at Gonzaga

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The next chapter

Chinyingi Bridge 2019

Tambokenu, mwane.  Welcome back to the Gonzaga in Zambezi blog.  In May 2007, Gonzaga University and the Zambezi, Zambia community wrote the first chapter of our partnership, a relationship rooted in the ethic of accompaniment.  This practice of accompaniment asks each Gonzaga student (now 300+) to walk in solidity with Zambians as they move to greater levels of community self-sufficiency and personal empowerment.  Through community engaged projects, students and faculty strive to operate at eye-level with this rural community in opposition to the “savior complex” of many short-term international tours.

After a pandemic pause since 2019, we are excited to write the next chapter of accompaniment with our friends and mentors of Zambezi.  On May 18, 2022, a team of 18 undergraduates and four faculty/staff will embark on a five-week study abroad program.  Our program is rooted in relationships and we are thrilled to reunite with friends, young and old, that have hosted and taught Zags for more than fifteen years.  If you are unfamiliar with the Gonzaga in Zambezi program, I encourage you to watch the 2 minute video below.

YouTube player

We hope you will follow along during the next five weeks as Gonzaga students reflect daily on their experiences in Lusaka, Livingstone, Botswana and Zambezi. We invite you to comment below each blog post (we will read each one) and let us know what you are learning through our words.  If you are an alumni of the program, we hope you will share a memory or greet a friend in Zambezi. 

For returning faculty and staff, our travels in Zambia have been transformative and we await the journey ahead, knowing the stark hardships and deep joy that this next chapter holds. I want to leave you with a stanza from Irish poet John O’Donohue’s For the Traveler blessing:

May you travel in an awakened way,

Gathered wisely into your inner ground;

That you may not waste the invitations

Which wait along the way to transform you.

Dr. Josh Armstrong

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Hello all family and friends!

I am posting this from the Dubai airport (we made it!) but have been writing while settled into seat 44F next to the one and only Bryce Joshua Kreiser. Many of my peers are queuing up the movies they plan to watch, devouring a book, or chatting up a fellow zag or new seat mate. That is, except for Preston Matossian. From what I can see, this earnest friend of ours is finally catching his breath and a few laughs after his sprint from security to the ticket counter, back through security, and to Ethan waiting patiently for him at our gate to be some of the last to board the plane. Why? You might be asking. Well friends, let me tell ya. Preston was notified at the back end of security that the not one, not two, but THREE axes packed in his carry-on luggage would not be suitable to accompany him aboard our plane tonight. Fortunately, he had plenty of time to declare and check all three weapons and get into his seat before Daniel would have lost his seat mate and Ethan would have spent some quality time with Preston and the Flying Missions pilots.

Following the ax debacle, this second flight of the day has been notably more still than my first. Partially because we are in a Boeing commercial airliner instead of this morning’s six-seater bush plane, but mostly because plump and endless crocodile tears aren’t pouring down my face the way they did this morning. The first hour or so of this morning’s flight was spent clinging to my sweet seat (& suite!) mate Ellie as we both let ourselves cry. I’m talking ugly cry. I’m talking weep. Oh yes folks, I said it, weep.

As mentioned in the earlier blog authored by the aforementioned Presto, I had been feeling some type of sentimental way, and shared a song called Linger from my scouting childhood with the whole of our group and our guests at the Accompaniment Dinner on Saturday evening. This song is one that’s been stuck in my head and heart over the last few days as I kept wishing to linger a little longer in Zambezi. As Preston already relayed, the lyrics end with: “And as the years go by, I’ll think of you and sigh, this is goodnight and not goodbye.” Today on the flight out of Zambezi, I wished so badly for this to be the song that ran circles around my head. Instead it was my friend Jessie’s beautiful song she sang both at the Chileña farewell party and the Accompaniment Dinner. The sound of Jessie’s voice so powerfully echoed inside my head: “The time has come to say goodbye, the time has come to say goodbye. We hope to meet, rejoice again, hope to rejoice again.”

Each new day in Zambezi, I felt a string in my heart tie itself to any person, place, feeling, or event it felt called to knot itself up with. Some strings, like the one that will always tie me to Chingalala or the market, reflect the width and surprising strength of the twine we used to hang the art projects in the grade seven room. Some strings were as sturdy as the bungee cord I trusted with my life just a few short weeks ago. I think this strong bungee is the kind of string that will always tie my heart to Mama Katendi and to Chileña. Another heartstring resembles the knots tied around my ankle in the form of an anklet that matches the bracelet of one of my students who I grew particularly close to. This morning as we flew into the sunrise towards Lusaka, I felt the tension pulling on each of the strings in my heart now tied to hearts in a place that I am going so far from.

In my pocket is a bow made as a remembrance by the student whose wrist matches my ankle. Each time I run my finger over its cotton, I find myself turning over the question, what happens when goodbye comes? What happens when we can’t linger in a place anymore? How can you linger so many miles away from people who have tied their heartstrings to yours as you’ve tied yours to theirs? If you even should, how do you guard yourself from the pain of attachment or the fear of futility? When you so badly wish you could linger, for only a little longer, but you can’t, is it grief you feel?

I don’t know. I really don’t, and I’m hoping that’s okay.

I do know that accompaniment, friendship, companionship, and kinship -this partnership involves a certain empowering and life-giving mutual indebtedness to one another. That the closeness that has followed from seeing, knowing, and loving each new friend to the best of my ability given the time I have, no matter how much it might hurt when those heartstrings pull, gives way for the tightening of a bond, of a knot in the heartstrings of people connected over space and over time. I do know per the demonstration of the Deputy Headmaster at Chileña Secondary that just as you cannot separate Coke poured into Fanta, Gonzaga cannot be separated from Chileña. We ultimately are one. Our liberation, just as now our heartstrings, are bound together.

This may have been one goodbye, but I will linger in Zambezi, and Zambezi will linger in me. I will linger as the future Gonzaga students who keep writing chapters in our story. Zambezi will linger in my heart as I travel to and love each new place, and each new person. I will linger in the hot air balloons that each of Isaac and my almost 70 students so artfully created. Our students will linger in the moose song; each time I sing it (which is more often than you think) they will be there. I will linger on the wrist of my student, she will linger on my ankle. I will linger in the memories of those whose heartstrings are now tied up in bows, knots, and vines around mine, and those same people, places, events, and feelings will forever linger in my memories, in my heart.

Gratefully yours world!

Kisu Mwane,

Leila Lewis ‘21

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Sweet Dreams Zambezi

Goodbyes: not always easy to accept, never saying exactly what’s desired or wanted. Only attempting to convey the love and appreciation felt along this amazing, yet tumultuous month-long journey. Hopping on bush planes tomorrow, beginning the long, airborne journey home to the United States, I can’t help but feel a lack of closure.

I would be outright lying if I said I have loved the entirety of this trip. Day 4 of computer classes hit hard. Leaving times of welcoming lectures and class expectations, the computer team navigated ways to build connection and teach all of our students. Mind you, with around 25 students per class, 3 classes, and about 10-11 computers depending on the given day and whether those said computers decided to work, this was not an easy task at hand.

Starting computer lessons about Microsoft Word, we gave our students a project about family members. Type about each member of your family in a word document and save that file. Simple enough, right? Not quite, because the lowest number of family members was deemed to be around five and the speed of users was estimated to be around three words per minute. Joel, a member of the first class, similar to me in age, raised his hand to ask about the finger placement on a keyboard. Eager to make conversation with my students, I began to ask him about his life, family and goals. What I did not expect was the conversation of kids and parenting. We chatted about his two children and how being a father has shaped him into the man he is today. The theme of young parenting was present throughout the lessons, even with girls in grade school, coming to lessons in their school uniforms. “You don’t have any kids?” they would ask, “Do you not want any?” It seemed to be common culture for young mothers and fathers to raise children as single parents, the family dynamic of ‘a village raises a child’ in full swing with masses of kids hanging out by the gate, around our classroom and playing around the community.

“Do you have kids? Aren’t you my age?” I would ask in return. This always was followed with giggles and laughter, continuing on with lessons and sharing of stories. But deep down I felt a pit in my stomach of discomfort and uneasiness. How will I be able to fit into this hot-climate culture and a place so unlike my own? With the intention of walking “with” people, how are these relationships supposed to develop when lifestyles completely differ to the point of doubts and insecurities developing?

Later that day, grappling with how I was going to be integrated into this community, growing and learning about myself the way I was anticipating, I remembered a quote from one of my favorite artists addressing the issue of normality.

“Normality is a paved road. It is comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”

– Vincent Van Gogh

The sandy pathways of Zambezi represent the journey that we have made to a different climate, culture and routine. A complete opposite of a paved road, Zambezi caused some instability within the first few days. I was slipping, getting stuck in the sand, trying to gain footing and balance, walking in a community that I feel starkly opposite from, not only in my appearance, but also in many of my values and lifestyle.

However, day by day, walks to the market did not seem as daunting. I knew the path, could walk decently through the sand while still holding conversation and even started to say hi to new friends at different shops as well as my students that I ran into. My flowers of kinship in the sandy walkways of Zambezi had started to sprout and I was giddy with excitement to nurture and tend to these newfound relationships.

 But what happens now that these relationships started developing? Digging deeper into my journal writing and my fellow Zags in conversation, I realized my deepest fear on this trip, one that I described, handing my rock to Leila and Regan, which Leila labeled perfectly. The fear of attachment. I love with my whole heart. Some may say this is a strength or a weakness: that is up for debate. But, I love deeply, susceptible to pain and brokenness when that is taken away. But I knew I was leaving. I have always known that I was going to be leaving. And that was the most painful weight on my heart and obstacle in making and forming these relationships. My fear of not making connections soon disappeared with continuous conversation and vulnerability. Language differences became just but a small barrier as I dug deeper into my students and friends. But the nagging countdown of days left in my head stuck as I went through lesson after lesson, market run after market run. I had gotten my footing in the sand, having relationships sprout up with every step, blooming into wonderful stories that I will keep in my heart, but the deadline until goodbyes haunted my thoughts, knowing that they were inevitable.

Our group is not meant to stay here forever. Goodbyes are meant to happen. Our time here is only but a chapter in the book of Gonzaga’s relationship with Zambezi. New chapters will be added with future groups of Zags and faculty, there will be new stories, new relationships, new struggles. Some characters in these new chapters will be returners, but some will be fresh, stepping into the sandy pathways with chances to grow and flourish.

As our time here in Zambezi has come to an end, this does not mean that the 19 of us will stop growing. Am I feeling a sense of closure as I spend my last night in Zambia writing this blog to all of you? No. Far from it. However, even though our feet are not going to be planted in the unpaved roads of Zambezi, walking to the market, school or just playing games with the children, we refuse to cease reflecting and thinking about our time here. As we close our eyes, we dream of this Zambian community, the friendships made, meals shared and memories created. We picture the sandy roads, vibrant sunsets and clear skies full of stars. We don’t say goodbye to Zambezi, we say sweet dreams.


Behind you, all your memories.

Before you, all your dreams.

Around you, all who love you.

Within you, all you need.

The biggest of Kisu Mwanes,

Emma Cheatham

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Enjoy Right Now, Today

But a few nights ago,

I found myself in the kitchen between Mamma Violet and Mamma Katendi, cutting sweet potatoes with utmost precision. A flow state accompanies me as I balanced the task at hand and the small talk amongst the three of us. The light dialogue prompts Mamma Katendi to ask, “How are you going to describe Zambezi to your parents?” –  the flow state is crushed in an instance.

 Within moments, I find myself warping through the inner dimensions of my mind, playing back every feeling and experiencing that has washed over me in these three weeks. There is no answer. The flow of the conversation has come to an abrupt stop, Mamma Katendi and Violent stop to see if I am okay. I snapped back into it and spit out something along the lines of, “the people here are very hospitable, there’s good and bad, the sunsets are nice”. The conversation and cutting is able to continue on, dinner must be served.

Flashback to 6:30am that morning. I am with a friend that has been a close companion that I met through my homestay experience; we plan to go fishing (let’s call him Gunter). Gunter’s gleaming presence often reminds me of that first true night in Zambezi; Isaac and I freestyling over a beat produced by our homestay – it would be safe to place us in the category of ‘aspiring’ rappers. Later that same night, after much banter and camaraderie, it’s time for Gunter to head home. Shortly after, my homestay alludes to Isaac and I about Gunter’s struggling with  heavy drinking, that sounds like it has gone on for some time now.

My western lens intensifies! My homestay’s compassion toward Gunter that night was not match for the ideas I was conjuring on how to avoid seeing Gunter at all costs. He had a problem. That problem encouraged me to place him in a box, a box of single stories, of assumptions, a box lacking curiosity, a box lacking grace. A take a moment to breath, what has preparation for this class taught me? I take a second-deep breath, and I am taken back to the Center of Spiritual Living (CPL) in Santa Rosa. A place my dad dragged me to here and then following my senior year. I am reminded that the quickest way to never know anyone, is to live a life guided by assumptions. I muster the courage up within me, this courage enables me to strip back a layer of my lens – “let’s meet up again Gunter” something along those lines.

Three weeks later, and Gunter is my closest friend in Zambezi. From freestyling endlessly, to introducing me to his family and home, to letting me name two of his dogs, which I named RobbyP and Pesto (RobbyP was stolen:( ),to teaching me about tribalism conflicts in Zambezi, to the perpetual struggle of alcoholism in his family, the limited job markets his up against, and his struggle with boredom and idleness. Wow. A word that Gunter says regularly is fitted in what came out in our time together over the three weeks. Thanks dad for dragging me to CPL, and thanks to Josh and Father Baraza for encouraging me to be compassionate of those that lie in the margins of society. Not to pity him, but to exists with him in those moments, to listen, to ask questions, to enjoy one another, to reciprocate appreciation of one another. 

P.S Tonight was the Accompaniment Dinner – Isaac, Chloe, and I are the MCs. Isaac does a backflip, it’s lovely. The choreographed dance does not go as planned. Leila and I are wearing matching chetengi, we take some awkward prom photos.    

Zags and Zambians are in the kitchen and in the front yard cooking dinner that will feed over 50 people. I found myself in dialogue discussing social anxiety with a Zambian friend. I cannot stop dancing. Zambians and Zags give short speeches regarding the impact of one another. I began to tear up. I hold back these tears. Maybe one day I won’t.  

Friendship real and deep reverberates in the atmosphere of the echoing convent. Deep appreciation for others is something hard to describe, but I felt in that moment. I drink a coke with my guest, Given. My heart and head attempt to balance the complexities of the challenges Zambian face that I have seen with the current joy I am experiencing; it feels as though I am in Debby’s Aerobics class partaking in a rambunctious maneuver. I remind myself that we are not called to be idle or even hostile to other cultures because of our western lens. I particularly struggle with gender roles in Zambia, which at face value is hard accept. It becomes a clash of human autonomy versus maintaining respect for one’s culture.

Most of all, as I sit surrounded by people I love and am inspired by, I am in the flesh (say in Baraza voice), I am here. I wish to embody the third type of person that Father Baraza describes, those that act. I am brought back to a quote my friend used for his senior project, “small acts, when multiplied can transform the world” -Alex Urasaki’s CBSL 2017. Tonight, felt like the perfect manifestation of that. We are not here to change Zambezi, we are here to exists in accompaniment with Zambians. This is easy to forget, and sometimes the efforts to engage in simply play with Zambian youth or conversational Luvale with Zambians feels futile. But this trip is bigger than these three weeks. We are but a chapter in book, a book that has Zags and Zambians enthralled with every page. This chapter of Gonzaga in Zambezi, chapter 2019, has brought joy, discomfort, love, anger, feelings of futility, eye-opening experiences, and companionship to all those that have partaken in its creation.     

This trip calls us student to reevaluate control. Often, we become paralyzed by the things we cannot control. Control is one of the deepest desires of humankind. This is why boxes exists, they enable us to have control over our perception of the world. To see things at face value, and make quick analysis of whether a thing is “good” or “bad”. Instead, one should listen with true openness.

True openness, while it may sound cliché, holds upmost value, especially in unfamiliar settings. While I do not recommend jumping into experiences willing to accept all new ideas, similar to how one should not check the temperature of the pool with both feet, one should be conscious of the lens we have. Peel back that lens, ‘feel free’. And anyways, in the androcentric words of Aristotle, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”.

One last thing, embrace those that you love and build one another up. I’ll prompt the question, is time more valuable than those that surround us? Instead let’s Linger in those moments that are there, waiting for us now!

Leila’s words sung early tonight at the Accompaniment Dinner (which pulled heart strings and trigger tear ducts alike) does a great job summarizing the feelings amongst us as we prepare to leave behind this place we’ve been began to call home.

“I want to linger (mmm) a little longer (mmm) a little longer here with you (mmmmmm) it’s such a perfect night (mmm) it doesn’t seem quite right (mmm) that this should be my last with you (mmmmmm) then comes September (mmm)I will remember (mmm) our Zambian days and friendships true (mmmmmm) and as the years go by (mmm) I’ll think of you and sigh (mmm) this is goodnight and not goodbye”(mmmmmmm).

Let’s make time for each other. The African philosophy of Ubunu reminds us that we only exist because of each other. Let’s find ways to enjoy right now, today. To be present, to be in that discomfort, to ask questions, to be confused, and while we’re at it, love your parents too.


With that in mind…Happy Father’s Day! It’s nearing 12am so not everyone got a chance to show some love, but hope all the fathers have a special day regardless.


Ellie: Daddio! Thank you for all your unconditional love and constant encouragement and support! I love you to the moon and back and can’t wait to see you soon!


Caityln: Yo Daddio! I can’t thank you enough for teaching me how to work hard and to be resilient. Without your love and guidance, I would not be the strong person I am today. I love you! Also, happy belated birthday mommy! I love and miss you with all my heart!


Megan: Dad! Happy Father’s Day! You know if I was there I would be giving you a great gift and planning a fantastic day for you! Love you so much and can’t wait to see you!

Sammi: Happy Father’s Day Papi! Thank you so much for always being a great role model for me. Looking forward to talking to you and the family in just a few short days, love and miss you!


Leila: Hey there dad! Happiest of Father’s Day’s to you. You always told me that luck was where opportunity met preparation, and I will always say that that leaves out the category of blessings. You are of the greatest of blessings. I love you oh so much and I can’t wait to huge you in SeaTac on Tuesday!


Maurie! Hey Dad! You’re pretty cool I guess. Happy Father’s Day! See you soon.’


Chloe: Hello father, I’m so incredibly proud to be loved by you, known by you and constantly learning from you. Thank you for making me the woman that I am. *Chelsea*


Isaac: Dad! I cannot believe I didn’t realize I’d be gone for Father’s Day :/. Your card and gift are on their way (with me)… but until then, thank you for being the best father in the world; I appreciate and love you so much. Can’t wait to see you soon <3


Annika: Dad!! Happy Father’s Day!!! I can’t wait to see you when I get home in 2 days!! Thanks for always supporting me in everything and being the absolute best! I love you so much!! (P.S please tell FarFar Happy Father’s Day too)


Emma: Hey dadJ thanks for being my biggest supporter in everything I do and wanting me to achieve. I am looking forward to many motocycle trips to Alice’s in the near future. Can’t wait to see you in a couple of days! Love you with all of my heart.


Rachel Has: Papa Dave!!!! I love you with my whole heart and have missed you everyday of this trip. I have so many photos and memories to share with you. <3<3 Some of my favorite memories have been spent with you: skiing, biking, and watching a Blazer’s game or two. J See you soon!! #BestDadEverEverEver


Spencer: Hey Daddio! Happy Father’s Day to you ya dingus! Thanks for always putting up with the shitty movies I choose to watch, can’t wait to watch some more over bbq when I see you on Tuesday! Love you lots!


Bryce: Jefe! Happy Dad’s Day. Thank you so much for the cards and comments, I appreciate your thoughtful, meaningful love, and your support. I look forward to being with you soon – thank you for your prayers


Alea: Hey Dad!! I love you lots and lots. Cant wait to see you in the airportJ Thanks for being the best!




Mwane Vule Mwane, Preston





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Oh the Places You’ll Go


The 6th grade class at Chileña.

Goodbye. Such a simple phrase, though it carries an abundance of weight and unknowing. How do you say goodbye to people that have stolen a piece of your heart whom you know you will likely never see again? How do you let yourself feel that sorrow without letting the weight of it crush your spirit?

There is no right or easy way to do so I am afraid. This moment in time simply approaches when you realize that the time you have spent with one another is coming to a close and you must say those dreaded words: goodbye. The only comfort I find in saying goodbye here in Zambezi is knowing I have done my best to express to each individual how much their presence in my life these last three weeks has meant to me.

Today, I along with the majority of the other Gonzaga students on this trip concluded our final day in class. While the majority of the other classes have students who are older and may have social media such as Facebook or email to stay in touch with their teachers, the ED team has no way of staying in touch with our students who are 6thand 7thgraders. Likely these students who have had such an impact on our hearts, we will never hear from again.

Throughout the last three weeks here, each team has worked tirelessly to prepare for each day of class and complete the curriculum we had prepared. Something that the ED team and I chose to focus on was the concepts of empowerment and expression. What is empowerment and expression? Empowerment: feeling and knowing you are strong and capable. Expression: showing your feelings, happy, sad or mad. Each day Caitlyn and I would begin the day reciting this with our students. While at first they were apprehensive and shy, they soon caught on to our enthusiasm.

Each morning we would walk in to our room and be greeted with “Welcome Madame” and they would continue standing until they were given permission to sit. Each day was truly an adventure at Chileña that none of us will ever forget. We quickly learned to expect the unexpected. From showing up to discover classes had been cancelled for the day to finding a dying chicken in the back of the class room or having a bat fly out of the rafters, every day was filled with lots of belly laughs and contagious smiles.

Every student brought a ray of sunshine to the dim classroom as well as a hunger for learning. Their desire to succeed shown through in their hard work and high aspirations. Mukenda and Omega want to be doctors. Hastings wants to be a pilot. Comfort wants to be a teacher. Royda wants to be a nurse. Jenni wants to be a soldier. I want them to fight for their dreams. I want them to soar.

But deep down inside of me, there is a voice that whispers, “Some of them won’t.”  This voice haunts me day and night and I struggle to come to terms with it. I want the world for these children who have given me one of the greatest gifts any person could receive: unrequited love. The thought of them not being able to achieve their dreams closes in on my heart and crushes it, leaving me only with a dull ache.

This is what I have struggled with the most during my time in Zambezi: empathy. All my life I have been encouraged to empathize with others. Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us, it is a choice we make. While this has been something I pride myself in doing it has become a burden here. It weighs on my heart in everything I do and I have worked tirelessly to shut it out during my time here out of fear. Fear of hurting so badly that the rest of the world is unbearable. There has only been one day here where I have failed to keep the sorrow I feel deep down at bay and I became so overwhelmed that it came as silent tears streaming down my face.

While there is so many things here and in the world that make my heart hurt, here in Zambia there are also so many things that inspire me and give me hope. I see a fire in the people here. I see a hunger and desire for more. I see their kindness to others. I see their openness to form new relationships and connections. I see their laughter and joy. I see their culture and I love them.

I see these things in Mamma Josephine whom divorced her husband because he wouldn’t let her pursue politics. I see these things in Mamma Love who was a teenage mother but worked her ass off, founded SEPA and then found herself at a conference speaking to world leaders. I see these things in Father Yona who works tirelessly to cultivate a better community for the Catholic Church. I see these things in Gladwell, the headmaster of Chileña Primary School, who wants what is best for his students. I see these things in Debby and Eucharia who support the youth through Zam City, and the kindness they radiate from their souls.

Every single one of these people have inspired me and have left such a profound impact on who I am and will continue to be. Thus, returning to the issue of how do we say goodbye to that? It will be no such easy task. These last few days in Zambezi will be filled with many tear-filled eyes and watery smiles as we prepare to leave the place we have called home for the last three weeks.

Although I will be leaving a piece of my heart here in Zambezi something that eases my conscience is knowing that I will carry with me the memories I have made with the people here for the rest of my life. I will forever remember the bumpy car rides, walks to the market to pick up ice cream, long talks with my classmates or Zambians, the sweet dreams conspiracy (whom we now know was the health team), the spiders, the cold showers, the friendships. I will remember the people who have inspired me and kindled my spirit. I will remember the joy upon each child’s face when being read a book. I will remember the goodbyes.

I leave here knowing all the lives that have touched mine and the lives I have hoped to touch myself. I hope to have kindled the fiery souls of each student through empowerment, expression, and the wonderful Dr. Seuss. In our final days at Chileña we read to our students Oh the Places You’ll Go.This is a truly powerful and poetic book that fit right into the theme of our class. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” I hope that you all can take this with you as a reminder to follow your dreams and realize you are in control of your life, just as I hope the students of Chileña have taken the same thing with them.

Much Love,

Regan Corley

To my friends and family: as much as I am sad to leave this place that has filled me with such joy, I cannot wait to hear from and see all of you in just a few short days. I have thought of you all every single day and you have truly walked this journey alongside me.



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