I have my interview for my site placement this Thursday at 4:30 p.m. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking on the 3 must-haves and I have even journaled about it to try to gain a sense of what I want. Before arriving to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and even having conversations with my brother, I thought I wanted a mountainous region because of all the beautiful scenery I would be able to see. But now that I know a bit more about Ethiopia, I think I’ve changed my mind.
My three musts for site (here’s to hoping that Peace Corps finds me suitable) are that 1. I stay in a region that speaks Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia as I want to gain proficiency. 2. I want to be placed in a small region with a neighbouring hub site rather than living in the city. 3. I want a region that has moderate climate.
My reasons for changing were personal but ultimately, I think it would help me integrate into my host family and my community. As previously mentioned in my original blog (I no longer have assess), I wanted a humbling experience that would help me grow as an individual. That being said, Amharic looks like it is a very difficult language to write and understand. Ethiopians use their own alphabet called the Fidel or the feedel. I’ve only had language class once last week, but will have two more sessions on Thursday and Friday. I figured that I came to Africa for a purpose and while I am completing that purpose, I want to be as integrated and as fluent as I can become. All or nothing, baby. Although I’m struggling, I really find myself wanting to become fluent in Amharic and not depend on any of my books. With that being said, although I may not be able to get as much exposure speaking the language if I am in a small town, I will at least know that I am not just a face in a sea of faces. I want to integrate into my site and really feel welcomed. I want to be able to walk to school and have children and community members know my name. It may seem selfish but I want to know my time sacrificed from my loved ones but put into this amazing country has meant something. In a way, I know I want instant gratification and it is something that all human beings want. What really matters to me is one-on-one personal conversations and I hope to come out at the end of my service making at least one good Ethiopian friend. As far as the climate, I like moderation and change in seasons. I have done complete heat before and it was unbearable, but I could never do just complete cold all year round. In the end though, I know I will end up loving to wherever Peace Corps see me most suited for.
Today, we had our famous training for food sanitation and diarrhea. Needless to say, it was quite informative and amusing at the same time. Here I am and this all seems interesting, but I already know what it feels like to have worms. When I was young, I had worms in my poop and to this day, I still remember that feeling. I’m not intimidated of diseases and I know I can keep boiling water in addition to doing everything I can to stay safe. What I am intimidated by is the fact that I am going to have to be doing it alone. When I had worms and other parasites/bacterial infections, my mom would take care of me. Do I really need to start taking care of myself? Where is my Ma to give me medications, and give me “manzanilla” or chamomile when I’m sick? Who is going to go to the store when I have run out of medications and household items? Oh wait, that’ll be me.
On a side note, I leave for Butajira this Saturday. Butajira is about two hours away from the capital, Addis Ababa and it is when we will start staying with our host family. Throughout the week, there will be training for both host families and trainees so we are both aware of the do’s and don’ts. I’m interested to see how my host family will act to the tattoo on my bicep. Ethiopians are very conservative and although the men do look at the women, Ethiopians are proud of who they are. They dress nicely, with dressed up clothes and shoes. That means that for me, I will not be able to wear short sleeves again for the two years that I’m here. Also, there will be a month of practicum where Peace Corps staff including the Program Manager and even the Ministry of Education will come observe the 611 (Group 11 Education) at their schools. Kind of intimating!
I recently just got back from a very cheap dinner with a friend and we discussed our pasts and where we come from. I mentioned to him that I was beginning to feel stuck in Delaware, unsure of where to go next and even unhappy with things and people that would generally put me in a great mood. After I graduated, I became a “real adult” and unfortunately that “real adult” was no fun. I felt like not much could spark my interest and I had lost my passion. My dreams that I have for myself far exceed the small state. Who knows what the future will hold for me, but I cannot wait to be able to speak Amharic and have long conversations with my host parents and my host siblings. Keep me in your prayers as I continue to find my way in this unique and wonderful continent.