Huge Update

Ignore typos, i am too lazy to check
October 9, 2011
The volunteers are split up into 3 towns: Holets, Managesha, and Addis Alem. I am staying in Addis Alem

I was given information about my host family today , a few hours before I actually moved in with them. My host mom, Shirkloh, is a widow who works as a merchant. There is a boy, Barrage, who is 9 years old but they were unsure of who the little boy’s parents were. At first I was disappointed that my family was so small. I envied the volunteers with 8 kids. But, I tried to look on the bright side and cheer myself up by repeating over and over “I will be able to get a close bond with my family because we are small.” We had ONE Amaharic lesson the day before and we were now ready to board that bus and meet our host family. The older volunteers put on a skit to prepare us for what to expect on the first day. We learned how to say the important words such as bakkah meaning enough (Ethiopians will offer you a lot of food and will continuously tell you to eat so you have to keep saying enough ) , we learned that a sign of affection is to grab a big chunk of food and put it in a loved one’s mouth, to show respect you shake hands with your right hand, grasp your right elbow with your left hand (thumb facing upward), and that it is part of the culture to make sure you do not feel lonely. Therefore, they will spend a lot of time with you. At 12pm, we boarded the bus, ready to meet our new families! I was SO nervous. The entire time on the bus I kept wondering if I was going to mess up and forget the few sayings I learned. I definitely didn’t want to offend my family the first day we met. Finally, we got to the site and of course I went up to the lady who had the sign that said Bernard and gave her a big hug! (I misread it and thought it said Breanna). Eventually I figure this out and go to the person who has my name. Anteneh came in place of my host mom, he is my host mom’s nephew. All of the volunteers and families sat down to eat and proceeded to get to know each other. We said the two phrases we knew. How are you? What is you name? Then we all looked at each other with a ‘what now face’ and laughed. All of the host families had had volunteers previously so they knew we didn’t know much and laughed at our feeble attempts at conversation. Fortunately, some of the families spoke English so we were able to have a conversation. I found out that I actually don’t have a small family. My host mom and another volunteer’s mom are sisters. So pretty much they are in each others home all the time. During the lunch, I had to use the bathroom. I asked the question that all of the volunteers made sure we learned quickly “Shint bet yet naw” (Where is the bathroom). I wanted to make sure I knew how to ask that question in case of emergency ☺ I must say I must say I am not in Kansas anymore and that hotel with the toilet that you couldn’t flush the paper down was def a luxury. I opened the bathroom ‘door’ and saw a hole that was there for me to do my business. But no worries! I had prepared! I asked a couple of volunteers how do you use the bathroom without splashing, making a mess on yourself etc. The trick (when you are going #1) is to put your knees together! SUCCESS! It worked! I even went number 2 and got it right in the hole! Guess Im a pro. I shared my success with the other volunteers and the trick I learned, we are now all pro’s ☺ After eating, we went to have coffee ceremony (which they have 3 times a day and 3 cups, especially before special ceremonies). A woman takes the coffee beans, cooks them over a fire, grounds them up, boils them in a coffee kettle and then serves it you. It is a pretty lengthy process. It encourages people to spend time with family and talk. After coffee we head to the house where I meet my host my and the little boy. We eat again (they are always trying to feed you) and have another coffee ceremony. I gave them half of my gift, which is candy, I will give the rest of my gift before I move to my permanent site. We then walk around Addis Alem (the town I am staying in). We were followed by little kids that shouted forengi,forengi. I wonder if they would call me forengi when I am alone, but they sure call me forengi when I’m with other people. There were cows peeing in the middle of the road, and goats, mules, horses, and chickens all just hanging out on people’s front yards.

Oct 10,2001
Happy Bday Hassan! Hope you liked your gift!

All of the volunteers who live in Addis Alem went to meet the important people of the town, including the governor of this town and nearby towns, the mayor, and the police. The volunteer coordinators and language facilitators, were introducing us to them and letting them know why we are here. After the first meeting, the governor welcomes us in Amarhic and the facilitator translates. He tells us if we need anything to go to him and that he hopes we feel at home. After he finishes welcoming us, I say with a straight face that I hope conveys my appreciation “iballalellu” which means I am called. I pause for a few seconds, realize my mistake, and my eyes bug out. We then say “immasayganlow” (thank you) and bust out laughing. I no longer mix those two up ☺ I was given ‘props’ for taking the initiative to thank the governor, even though I said the wrong phrase. Haha!

Oct 11, 2011
Today was the second day of language class. I get frustrated with myself because I take a bit longer to catch on. I try not to compare myself to others, but I catch myself doing it sometimes. Today, I was very negative about learning the language/class. Just a bit frustrated with myself. I read letters from my family and friends and felt a lot better. I am here to help and in order to do that I must learn the language. If I need to get a tutor or spend more hours studying then so be it. But I can’t help if I cant communicate. I am practicing with my host family which helps.

October 12, 2011
What is it like to be a forengi (four-in-g) in Ethiopia? Well imagine walking down the street and everyone staring at you (im talking a hundred plus people). When you look them in the eye, they don’t look away. You greet them and they either respond, laugh, or keep staring. I actually have a lot of fun with it, especially with the kids. Kids often chase after you yelling forengi, what is your name (in English), you!, Money money money, or China (to my Chinese friend). Sometimes, I turn around and chase after them! That always gives me a good laugh! Or sometimes I point at them and yell Forengi! Forengi! We have a lot of fun with the kids! The little boy that lives with me (I call him my brother) loves when I come around because I do cartwheels and play with them. Most of the forengi’s play with the kids. I love walking around with the volunteers and saying loudly “the forengi are here!!! the forengi are here!!!!” And don’t let forengi’s run into other forengi’s(other volunteers) we holler FORENJI FORENJI FORENJI!! My teacher also taught us how to say I am not a TV, I may try this phrase too if I get annoyed.

Oct 13, 2011
Called my mom today. I bought 100 burr worth of minutes (17 burr=1 US dollar). While that is not much in US dollars, I am given an allowance in Ethiopian money so that is a lot for me. I get about 300 burr every 2 weeks (I think) and then allowance to buy phones/bikes etc. All my meals are paid for so the other money is basically for random things. Anywho, I called my mom and got to hear her voice! I found out 100 burr is only 4 minutes and 30 seconds of talk time (pretty expensive for such a little time). But I must say it was SO worth it. It was good hearing her voice, I miss my family/friends. I also miss food. I opened up the oreos bag today, shared it with the family who said it was delicious. I only shared a couple of cookies though, as those who know me know that my family is not good at sharing (Especially my mom). Lol. I have a cold they gave me warm milk and are trying to help me feel better. My language skills are improving. I play with the neighborhood kids and practice my language with them. Please send me candy!!! Chocolate, kit kats, Hershey’s, oreos, ooo how I miss it!!Hand sanitizer is also wonderful as the shint bet’s don’t have things to wash your hands with (or even toilet paper) . But most of all please send letters. They really help during times when I am sad. My emotions are like a rollercoaster, there are highs and lows. The letters help with the lows.

Again if there is anything you want to ask, please feel free. Anything you want to know, need clarification on, just ask. I try to include as much info as possible but I leave stuff out, unfortunately, because it is difficult to write it all at once. So much happens in a day.

Oct 14, 2011
Today was one of those “we’re going to scare the mess out of you” days. Our doctor came today to give a presentation on medical issues. Basically, anything and everything can and will get me sick. Don’t step in a puddle or river because if someone urinates in it there are these parasites that can be released into the water , the parasites then find a snail and morph into super parasites that can travel through your skin (Honest! He used medical terms to describe it though). Therefore, I must avoid all water. Don’t eat the raw meat dishes because this long worm thing will grow in my stomach and make me starve to death. The malaria meds don’t prevent malaria they just keep the eggs in my liver. (at the end of service we get the pills that will kill the eggs) I MAY HAVE MALARIA RIGHT NOW!! Don’t drink the water, you will get more parasites. Someone you are around may have tuberculosis, which there is no cure for. You may bubble up when they do the tb test. Also, we were given a list of sympotoms for things like dongue fever and malaria…each one of them had the same symptoms, diahrea, aches, and high fever. LOL After being thoroughly terrified of anything and everything we had a brief break and then had a presentation on safety and security. So if your not worried about your health, they’ll make sure and get you with the security. It was definitely an interesting day.

Oct 15, 2011
We had our weekly ‘assessment.’ I took this to mean TEST and was nervous as heck! Although, the only thing that would have happened is I would have had extra tutoring, I didn’t want that! I enjoy playing with the kids after class (soccer, tag) and I wont be able to do that with tutoring. So, of coruse I was antsy. I forgot this is not college, it isn’t pass or fail, they just want to make sure you are doing ok and keeping up. I did decide that I would not cram, if I need extra help then I need extra help.

I did fine ☺ All you do is role play in Amharic with the language instructor.

October 17,2011

In Ethiopian culture, it is often common to “gorsha” loved ones. They grab food off their plates with their hands (everything pretty much is eaten with your hands) and they shove the food in your mouth. Well, you have to open your mouth but they put right in front of your lips and say “be, be or billa billa” (depending on the sex). It means eat, eat. Many volunteers dread being gorshaed because its not the most sanitary thing in the world. During our cross cultural classes we would often see skits of what to expect durign the meal and how to react. Well after a week of living with my host mom and not being gorshaed I was really surprised. The families are prepped about not overwhelmng us. Today, I was in a very happy mood and decided to gorsha my mom! I grabbed a BIG chunk of food and stuffed in her face and said BE BE BE BE! lol she laughed and opened her mouth! Then, she did it back. Not sure what I have opened myself up to. Lol but it was fun 🙂

Oct 18, 2011
I got to enjoy a weekend of doin gnothin gbut reading ☺ We went on a couple of hikes, saw a couple of breath taking views and waterfalls. We have taken a few hikes to some beautiful places. We are in search of monkeys but they are never out when we come. There are also hyenas out here but Im not really trying to find those lol. During our hike a herd of goats came by us. The village children picked up the goats and gave each one to us volunteers. I held the cutest little baby goat, but I hurried to put it down when the mommy started coming after me haha.

So lets talk about the food. Injera gives me gas. I am not happy about that seeing as you eat injera with everything. I have no idea what to do about this.

I don’t have any news to report from me but a couple of volunteers had funny things happen to them. One volunteer was eating with her family. They gave her an egg sandwhich and she was so excited. She attempted to express how much she loves the egg sandswhich to her family. But instead she ended up telling them “I love penis sandwhiches!” in Amharic. To this her family cracked up laughing!! HAHAH! I found this story hilarious!!

How do they get their food? This one is for you cousin Jamie! Lol. So out here there are market days every Monday, Wednesday and a big one on Saturday. My host mom is actually a merchant at the market, she sells soaps and stuff. Anywho, on these days people from the rural areas come to town (side note: honestly I cant imagine what the rural areas are lik because I feel im in a pretty rural area. But I guess they just don’t have electricity…we do have a TV tho im assuming they don’t have that either lol! Other than that im already pooping in a hole and there is only one paved road so what else is there..wathc me regret those words later lol). They come with all types of goodies, livetsocks, clothing with tailors ready to make outifts, lotions, soaps, lettuce, herbs, spices, pretty muche verything you can imagine. I will take a bunch of pics of this. So me and the forengi’s decide to go to the market and check it out. Lol Everywhere we went there were SOO many people staring! It was quite entertaining. I am still not sure what is so fascinating about forengi’;s but something makes people starte.

Good news, when I walk by myself I don’t get nearly as much attention. I pretty much blend in except for my clothes and even that they just think I may have come from the capital. Every one I meet says I am Ethiopian. Other host families seem to like me as well ☺ They tell their guests that they want me to come over.

October 20,1011
Today we learned ways to educate children about the environment and were given a few tools on how to approach environmental ecuation teaching. I may be working in this field, not sure yet.

October 21,2011

We went on a hike in the forest of a mountain. Peace Corps drove us halway up a mountain and we hiked the rest!! WHOO! I am NOT adjusted to the altitude! I was dying, trying to make it up to the waterfalls. I was in the back of the group, I had made it up the steep part of the mountains. Only to bump into volutneers going the opposite way. Out of breath, I rushed to say “you have to be kiddin me! I wasn’t that far behind, was I?“ I wasn’t, they had to turn abck because it was going to get dark and we had to be back by then. Fortunatley, being behind actuall paid off. Because I was in smaller groups, I got to see more wildlife. There was a chameleon that I thought was a lizard and almost stepped on, I even held it, ANNNNDDD I saw HUGE baboons!!! They had blue butts and everything! It was AWESOMEE!!!

October 22,2011
Site annoucement!!!

We had a Big dance party we’re we learned different dances from different region of Ethiopia. Then, we taught ourr style dances, (cupid shuffle was one of them!).

Then site annoucement!!!

We drew names out a hat, and that person would come out and find out where they will be living for the next 2 years ☺ I thought I was going to Tigray because of the placement interview but I was VERY pleased to find out I am going to southern nations. I will be able to have pineapples, apples, and mangoes. It is a warm, green area ☺. Both sites are awesome, Tigray has a lot of historical landmarks so I will definitely visit. But Im glad I will have pinapples ☺

My town has about 25,000 (its difficult to know how accurate that number is because there isn’t a census). I will have good cell phone reception, AND there is another volunteer living in my town. I am less than a day’s journey from Addis (the captial). On Halloween, I will visit my site with my couterpart (a local villager that shows you around town, helps you get adjusted, introduces you to people, and works with you on projects). I will stay in my town for a week and then return to training. I will continue to learn Amharic (some volutneers are switching langauges).

Today (not sure of the date lol)
We are now in Addis (the capital which is why I have internet) and we met our counterparts. Very interesting experience. My counterpart was focusing on the fact that I do not have an environmental background but a business background. I explained to him the areas that I can contribute from a business perspective. I can help farmers learn how to make the most profit from their land/agriculture. I also have experience teaching children, and can go into schools and teach abut the enviroenment. Eventually, he came around and understood what ways I coud contribute. But, even if the relationship doesnt work out. I can find another counterpart/organization to work with.


About bnw0404

I hope to use this blog to keep everyone updated on my Peace Corps journey from California to Ethiopia Disclaimer: The contents of this page, and all links appearing on this page, do not represent the positions, views or intents of the U.S. Government, or the United States Peace Corps.
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One Response to Huge Update

  1. Jami says:

    Howdy lady! Love reading your blogs! U know I’m a little disappointed about the food market lol!!!! U know I thought it was going to b worse than that but that’s good for u. The only thing I can do is SMH about the hole in the floor 🙂 love you

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