So here I am, in a new blog, preparing for a new adventure. In two months I will go to orientation, and a week after that, barring huge unforseen problems, I will go to Macha, Zambia. (If you haven’t seen it on a map, here is a link to Google Maps. It’s not as small as it looks; the community is spread out over about 6,000 sq. kilometers, but it is quite rural.)
As far as fund-raising, I currently have $4,063 of the $5,400 I need — there is a $4,600 required contribution for the MCC SALT program, and the rest will cover student loans beyond what they will assist me with. I’m feeling incredibly grateful for the support I have received so far, and very loved by my community.
To answer a question that I have received from any number of people, no, I have not yet started packing. At this point I do have a box for cool-weather clothing and other things that I expect to want in Zambia but don’t think I’ll need before then.
To answer another question I’ve gotten a lot, there’s been a lot of paperwork (I needed notarized copies of my entire life, including my college diploma, to apply for my work permit), and I had to get shots for yellow fever, polio, typhoid, and hepatitis a, not to mention a tetanus/pertussis/diptheria booster, in addition to a number of innoculations that I’d already gotten, including meningitis, hepatitis b, and some other things that I’ve forgotten. Yes, it is a malarial region; there’s a malaria research center attached to the hospital in Macha. I do not intend to get malaria if I can possibly avoid it.
For a final frequently asked question, the official language in Zambia is English. The local language in Southern Province, where I’ll be, is Tonga (there are 73 distinct regional languages spoken in Zambia, not to mention any number of dialects). No, I have not started studying Tonga — I think I’ll get six weeks of language lessons after I arrive — because I have been unable to find any resources or native speakers to help me do so. But Culture and Customs of Zambia reassures me that 80% of people over the age of fifteen speak English, and people who have been there tell me that people will speak English in Macha, and I’d have to go into very remote areas to find people who don’t speak English at all.
Hopefully this is crossposting to livejournal. Feel free to read it here or there; I’ll try to answer comments in both places.