Saying Goodbye

At the end of my YAV year, with two weeks left to go, my instincts are telling me to slowly filter out of people’s lives so that they hardly notice I’m gone. I don’t want tearful goodbyes, sad encounters, or people telling me how much they’re going to miss me. Moments like those have always…

What I’ve Learned in Zambia

This past week, my family visited me in Zambia, which was an incredible experience. Not only was it amazing to see them again after 9 months but it meant a lot to me that they got to meet my host family, worship at my church, and meet the people who form my community. But one…

Reflections on Culture Shock

May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service of something greater than ourselves May we endure; May sorrow bond us and not separate us May we realize the greatness of our sorrow and not run from its touch or its flame   May we not be afraid to see or speak our…

The Art of Standing Still

It feels like I’ve been running all my life. I was running when, after immediately receiving my college acceptance letter from Penn State, I accepted the offer that same day, thinking that doing so would eradicate any grain of doubt in my mind that it was the right decision. I was running when I begged…

Being a Woman in Zambia

It’s taken me months to write this blog. I’ve tried to form the words, taking into account how talking about this issue will affect the Zambians I know and the people back home. But this might be the biggest issue I’m dealing with here in Zambia. And I can’t hide that from people. The female…

Thoughts on Being a Minority

During our Thanksgiving retreat, the YAVs felt a sense of belonging with one another. The people around us didn’t question our presence. We weren’t given special attention. We didn’t feel like our environments were monitoring us. I had a strange but affirming sense of peace during the retreat, knowing I could be myself and not…

Thanksgiving with Elephants

Guys, something amazing happened. The YAVs spent their first retreat (and Thanksgiving) in South Luangwa, which is a beautiful national park in Zambia. When we arrived at our lodge, John (another YAV) and I were walking toward reception when we heard “don’t move.” We froze (as you do when someone says that phrase). Then comes…

The Legacy of Colonialism

Zambia gained its independence from the British on October 24th, 1964. Yet, there are still glimpses of the colonialism that shaped this country and we, as white Westerners, get to see that influence. One of the examples I have to explain Zambian’s construction of whiteness is my commute to work. I leave the house at…

Meet My Family

In the confusing, constant chaos that is my life, there have been some small (and some very large) blessings. I love my job (I’m the Communications Associate for the CCAP Synod of Zambia) because I get to meet people in the church community and tell their stories. I also love my mentors in the Mandevu…

Observations from a Village

The Zambia YAVs have been in the country for about three weeks now and we’ve had some pretty interesting cultural experiences. But this blog post is going to be about one particular experience that had a strong impact on all of us. Last week, we stayed in the village of Chimwangombe with the Sakala family…

(Dis)orientation

In my last blog post, I talked about wanting this blog to be an honest telling of my experience in Zambia. So I’m going to talk about how much I struggled during my YAV orientation and how difficult it was to absorb what we were being told as volunteers. The most difficult thing we heard…

Me and My Anxiety

What I don’t want this blog to become is a site where I pretend everything is OK, where I ignore the presence of doubt, where I filter out the difficulties I will inevitably encounter in Zambia. What I don’t want to do is lie and pretend like moving to a foreign country, living with a…