Molly in Africa

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Language Lessons, a Funeral, the Germans & Football

Lots going on these past two weeks!


Language Lessons: We just completed our language lessons yesterday and they were wonderful.  We hired a language teacher who works with Peace Corps named Shupe to come and live with us for two weeks and give us intensive language lessons.  I was a bit nervous about the lessons and the idea of having another housemate for two weeks but everything went SO WELL!  I’m able to understand more of the language now and I now understand the structure of the language- how to form sentences, add adjectives, etc.  Shupe crammed a TON of information into these two weeks, so it’s been a little mentally draining, but so worthwhile!  In the next week or two, I hope that more of the information we were given will settle into my brain and I’ll be able to sort through it and actually use it!  We’ll see how that goes. :)

            I have to talk about Shupe a little bit now because she was amazing.  Not only was she a great teacher, she stayed so well with us.  I felt comfortable with her almost immediately and when I think back on these past two weeks, I can’t help but smile.  Starting the second day she was with us, Shupe was teaching me songs in vernacular so that we could sing together.  I was better at joining her when the song was really simple so I learned a song sung at weddings, a song that little kids sing about food, a song sung during the harvest time and a song that raises awareness about the benefits of breast-feeding.  Haha, sort of a strange assortment, but it was really fun!  In addition to that, Shupe just added such a great component to our conversations.  Her experience teaching language to foreigners has given her some great insights into the differences and similarities between our cultures and she is really knowledgeable about life in Malawi.  I guess to summarize, I should say- Shupe was great and our community will really miss her.


A Funeral- Two weeks ago, Madam Mwalweni’s father-in-law passed away.  Madam Mwalweni is my co-worker at MIRACLE who works in the Social Office with me.  In Malawi funerals are very important.  In villages, when a funeral is happening, everything else stops- no meetings, no work… nothing happens because everyone is expected to be attending that funeral.  Attending a funeral serve a couple purposes. 1. The obvious: burying the dead. 2. Consoling the family and friends. 3. Somehow proving that you were not connected with the death.  Witchcraft is commonly accepted here and so when people get sick or die, it’s quite normal to ‘blame’ someone for causing that pain.  By showing up at the funeral, it clears suspicions.  4. You’re supposed to go.  It is seen as respectful and proper culturally to attend a funeral for anyone in your family, for anyone in your village, for the family of any of your friends and for the family of any of your co-workers.  For those last two, it actually gives more respect to your friend/co-worker for you to show up.  It is a clear sign to their family and neighbors of how well respected they are and that they have good relationships with people.

            So we all went to the funeral.  We walked the 7 or 8 km to where it was and by the time we got there, he had already been buried.  We stayed for about an hour or two and it was so interesting to see and be a part of it.  I don’t have words to describe the experience right now but shoot me an email if you want to know more- it was really neat.


The Germans- There are two girls from Germany that are working at Lusubilo (an orphan care center in town) that we’ve been hanging out with a lot these past two weeks.  They’re 19 and 20 and we’ve had a lot of fun with them.  One day they came and met us at the lake; another day, they came and joined us for dinner; another day, we had a surprise slumber party with them (there was a message invite so we were surprised when they showed up a day early) and then we had the expected slumber party with them when we actually expected it.  It’s been cool to hear their reactions to the culture here and also just to chat about their lives in Germany.  I’ve learned a lot from them through our conversations.


Football- I finally have gotten off my butt and have started girls’ football (American soccer) at MIRACLE!  We had our first two trainings this past week and the girls are really excited.  After the first training we had a little meeting and I asked when they wanted to play again and they excitedly said, “TOMORROW!”  We’re going to train twice a week and I’m really looking forward to this time with them.  It’s fun to see them learning the new skills and just interacting freely with one another.  We had a scrimmage on Thursday and there were some good moments of passes or good defending, but there were also times when I was doubled over laughing at whatever had just happened! :)  I think they will improve somewhat quickly though because they’ve never been taught anything about how to play before but they are eager to learn. 

It’s also just been really fun to hang out with the girls.  The classes I teach at MIRACLE are predominantly male and the students who are more outgoing and have gotten to know me outside of the classroom are again, predominantly male.  I’ve loved getting to laugh and be silly with these girls and of course to encourage them. 


At 3:55 PM, September 19, 2009, Anonymous HeinemanCTA said...

Molly -- What a fun post. I loved reading all about your adventures with Shupe, the funeral and finally "getting off your butt" and onto the pitch. Great Terrific to hear all about everything. Thanks -- do it again soon. Love Dad

At 9:04 PM, September 23, 2009, Blogger Kathryn said...

Mols- SO glad to hear that your doing well! I miss you tons and talk about you all the time. Goodluck with the football team it should be a blast :)-Kathryn

At 5:22 PM, October 02, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly: Just checked in after a long absence (U.S. winter, spring and summer). I need to ask your folks about the elephants. Good to hear that you worked your way through the blahs, though I gather you will never be comfortable with the advantages that you have over the folks you know in your sector of Malawi. Your Peace Corps neighbor (30 kms away) is cool, living closer in style to the people. The phrase describing this that we used to use in Maryknoll is "going native." And, that is a lifelong process involving learning the language, adoping local behaviors, dressing like the people. But then you bump up against local customs -- only the men get their feet washed on Holy Thursday. There's always going to be some discomfort, something to kick against or "bitch" about. Thanks for your witness and sharing your story.
Dan Maloney


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