Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming! Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming!

Home stay goodbye party! A blog post is coming!

New mailing address 

From now on I will be receiving mail at my school! 

Abbey Secondary School 
Alina Nestjorkina 
P. O. Box 11 

How many people can fit into a daladala?

Always one more! Yesterday I went to town by myself to my future village. On the main road I waived down a daladala, a small bus with a specific route, and hopped in as it was taking off. The bus was a little crowded but I managed to find a room to stand up front among baskets and bags. At the next stop the conductor asked me to move back because he could not open the door. 

I moved to the isle and more people got on the bus. At this point I am in full body contact with three people: font, back and left. As we are coming to another stop I am hoping that somebody is getting off…no…more people getting on. The bus door can’t close anymore and I have floor space for only one of my feet to stand. As the bus is moving, you just have to hold on to the bar above with all strength as all people sway with the motion of the bus. Finally we stop again and some people get off. I can now stand with both feet on the floor. 

At another stop a passenger needs to get a bag that is tucked away behind the last row of seats. Unfortunately the back only opens from the inside and there are too many people in the isle for conductor to get to the back. Lightbulb!! He’ll open the back window, without a warning climb in through the window and over the person who is sitting by the window, squeeze to the back and open the back door for the passenger to grab the bag from the back!! Great lightbulb idea, and it works! 

We are on our way again, now we can all stand with both feet on the ground, however at each stop about five people get off the bus to let a person out. As the bus starts moving the five people jump onto the steps and hold to a bar inside as half of their body hangs outside the bus. Half an hour later I arrive at my destination, a town with a little market to do my shopping. Fortunately the bus on the way back is pretty empty, and even though I am standing the whole time, no full body contact with anyone. 

The proverb of “always room for one more” is really true! This experience is still considered mild, and I’m excited for a more extreme transportation story. When I asked my volunteer shadow about his worst bus experience, he said that it gets to a point when you want to crawl up into a ball and cry (and this is from a guy who backpacks countries solo). I am assuming that when I get to that point I WILL crawl up into a ball and cry, and then make a blog post about it! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014 

Where will I serve?? 

Our sites were announced on September 27th. That was a day we have all been anticipating for long time. The event started with a group of Tanzanian dancers and drummers performing. A lot of volunteers joined into the dancing and it was fantastic. Afterwards we sat down and a few people gave short speeches. Then THE BOARD was uncovered. On the board were 61 photos covered with 61 sticky notes and pieces of thread ran from the stickies to a pin that lead to a place on the map of Tanzania. First person at random came to the board and took off the first sticky note: and the first face was uncovered. We all cheered wildly and the person came up, got a folder of information, picked up an apple and two American candy bars (apples are rare here). Then the person proceeded to take off another sticky note from a photo in their region. 

More than half of sticky notes were peeled but my face was still covered somewhere….at last a volunteer peeled a sticky note and it was my photo!!!! MTWARA!!! I am going to Mtwara region!!! I grabbed my folder, shook hands and unveiled the next name! Then I grabbed the coveted apple and candy bars. While waiting for my name to be called I was equally excited to get my apple as I was excited to see where I was going. Fresh apples!!!! Anyways, there are 5 volunteers going to Lindi/Mtwara region (including me). All the announcements were followed by excitement, sharing of information, taking photos, another awesome performance of the Tanzanian dancers/drummers and fun time. 

Volunteers traveling thought Dar es Salaam left Korogwe on Saturday late morning (after early morning crocodile adventure). We spent the night in Dar and next morning were picked up at 5 am by PC driver at the hotel. The next hour was quite hectic. We went to Ubongo, a huge bus station where we were to load busses going south. It was still dark, yet there was already traffic. There were thousands of people, many tried to help us get our stuff to the bus (for money). We fast walked through rows of huge charter buses, some were pulling out of their spots and it was the person’s responsibility to get out of buses way. The bus just took off and you ran and squeezed between huge moving busses to get to your bus. There is NO way I would of been able to do that without the help of our Tanzanian driver. We finally got on our bus, but had one more step to do; transfer busses at another station before heading south. When bus pulled up to the next station I realized one of my backpack pockets was open and my Burt’s Bees Chapstick gone. I closed the pocket and checked the other one… it was empty… my point-and-shoot camera was gone too. I didn’t have too much time to think about it because we had only about five minutes to switch busses. We settled in our seats and were finally on our way. The bus left the city around 7:30 am and arrived at my banking city, Massasi, around 3:30 pm. 

In Massasi, we were met by 3 volunteers who live in the region. We hung out, explored the town, ate and stayed at a guesti in town. We were assigned a volunteer to shadow and the next morning me and my assigned shadow volunteer left early to his site (he had to teach the first period). 

On Thursday I arranged to go see my future school, we took a bus to town and then walked about one kilometer to reach the school. I will be teaching at an all boys, private, Roman Catholic, boarding school. The students speak good English (ang get punished if get caught speaking Kiswahili), the water comes from a spring which is safe for drinking, the school has really nice science labs and is currently hosting two other volunteers (not through Peace Corps). 

After the tour of the school, my headmaster drove us to a vocational school (that is part of the same catholic mission). There’s a chane I’ll teach math at the vocational school too. We got to see shops where students were learning welding, machinery, mechanics, carpentry, electrical, etc. The mission which runs the school is also associated with a printing press, a hospital, butcherer and I’m sure other things. Their primary partnership is with Germany. 

To say the least, I’m excited to settle here! I am heading back to Korogwe on Saturday and after swearing in will return here somewhat for good!! 

Thursday September 4, 2014 

A failed attempt at hunting crocodiles

There is a river which runs thought my training village. Many people go there to fetch water, wash clothes and bathe, however there are stories about people being severely hurt by the crocodiles and some died of injuries from the crock attacks. On Friday two of us ended up going to explore crocodiles. We walked down to the river and talked to people to see where we can find them. We walked near the bank in tall grass weary of crocks and potential snakes. Eventually we got to a river crossing with two dug out canoes. We paid a guy 1000 shillings to take us across the river one person at a time. The whole time I was anticipating a crock to attack us in the boat, but that did not happen. We walked a little further and found a place where crocks could potentially be resting on the rocks. There we talked to a guy who recommended us to come back at night because we are more likely to find them: he also asked us to pay him for the information he gave us.

We decided to go back to the river in the morning, this time we went with my kaka and dada. We got to the river a little before 6 am, but the crocks were not on the rocks where we expected to see them. Two men came to the river and talked to us about crocodiles. They are sort of crock pros and ate them before. The men offered to take us up the river and overall it turned out to be a two hour adventure up and down the river. We walked along paths with tall grass, crossed the river on log bridges, tried to cross on metal wire stretched tree to tree on opposite banks and just looked for crocodiles. All in vain. 

So that was a cool adrenaline rush adventure and we will go back to the river next week to see if we can spot the crocks!! 

Monday, September 1, 2014 

Do NOT take 911 for granted! 

A few days ago, a friend of mine had a seizure while we were sitting at a table. What do you do in such circumstances when there is no 911? Thankfully Peace Corps has the greatest health care in the country. We called the doctor on duty and were instructed to take a taxi to a local hospital. In town we were joined by PC driver and a staff member. We transferred vehicles and went to the hospital.

We turned off a paved road and drove for a little on a rough dirt road before pulling up to a building which begged a question “Is this a hospital?”. The hospital was dark and not sparkly clean like they are in US. We walked to an office where a “doctor” in a black, monster t-shirt asked what we are there for (later he said he is a med student). 

We called the PC doctor when we got there and doctors did all the talking and instructing. The medical student did not even know what a seizure was and just checked her pressure/pulse/resp rate. We had to stay in the hospital to monitor vital signs and requested a private room. After waiting in a dark hallway with water on cement floor for about 40 min, they said that a private room is not a available because they don’t have an empty room that has electricity. They took us to a room that had two bed (thankfully it was not a public ward with 40 beds in a row). The room however did not a have a light and we had to use cellphone lights to do a blood test. After a while we were asked to transfer to a private room that they have prepared. The floor was still wet from washing, but it smelled like a hospital should, had clean sheets and had a working light AND AC!!! My friend had to get an IV, but they don’t have fancy monitors to control drip rate, so I stayed up all night watching the IV (I slept for only 2 hours between IVs). PC staff was great and brought us crackers, fruits, pillows, water, sheets and toilet paper. Here you get really close really fast, and we shared a small hospital bed for the night. 

The next morning we headed to Dar, and Dar is fantastic! It literally has everything!!! Subway with cookies, great Indian street food, a legit superstore with check out lanes and ice cream! 
We got to go to some hospitals and do a lot of waiting, but in the evening we got to explore the city. We just walked from our hotel and started exploring things. 

So far we had PC cars pick us up and drop us off for official appointments, but since we had free time we took a daladala to PC office to explore. There we were joined by another PCT who was staying at an ex pat family for medical reasons. We were fortunate enough to be able to go to with her to her homestay which was a legit American house! It had 3 fridges, a dishwasher, and microwave. Also a walk in pantry full of American pantry items!!! It was fantastic and I drank some COLD juice with RITZ crackers. Then, we went to a grocery store and got treated to some DELICIOUS gellato!!!! It was fantastic!!! 

Tanzania has been such an awesome experience to say the least. I will be going back to the training village today, taking language and technical tests and then going off to my site for a visit in a less than a week!!! 

~ Sunday, August 24, 2014 ~ 10 am

Learning to cook chicken! 

My family has been talking about teaching me how to cook ugali and chicken and we decided to do it for lunch on Sunday. Today, as I was pouring myself some tea for breakfast, Rafa walked into the dining room with a rooster in his hand (Rafa = 10 yr old boy who lives in the house). When I saw the rooster I immediately made the connection: chicken for lunch = live rooster at breakfast. After breakfast my dada and I plucked, gutted and butchered the rooster. It was interesting to say the least. After we set the rooster to boil, I washed my hands and headed to church. 

Last week I started internship teaching at the secondary school in my village. I teach Form I ~ 8th grade in US. Currently they are covering conversions; but the biggest challenge is their level of their English. I feel that my kids don’t understand me more than half the time, but I am enjoying it quite a lot. I have the best view out of my classroom window and have students who are interested in math (or maybe they are just interested in the new teacher in front of the class). Today one of my smartest students came up to me during a class activity and said: “madam, I must touch your hair”. She then touched my hair and went to her seat. I will definitely have many great teaching stories from this experience!!! 

Last week we had Kiswahili written and oral tests. I passed my written test and got intermediate-mid on the oral (that is the score we need by the end of training, so I am doing well). It’s nice to be evaluated on my language skills and know how much of the language I understand. Also, in 2 weeks we will find our or site placements where we will serve for 2 upcoming years! I’m really excited for that!!! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 ~ 10 pm 

Three weeks since I left home.  

Today is Sunday and by now I’m quite comfortable with things here. I love my family here, my fellow volunteers are a great support, and I am learning so many things about culture, life, food, health and teaching. 

Our CBT group is meeting at a local secondary school here in the village. We have the most gorgeous view from our classroom window. There are wonderful mountains in the background and palm trees in the foreground. The students always greet us and carry our bags into the classroom (teachers here are respected and kids stand up when teachers enter the classroom). 

This week I had my first microteaching presentation. I prepared a 10 min lesson on inequalities and presented it to a small group. I was being evaluated by a representative from TZ ministry of education. It’s crazy to realize that I am being evaluated by people who are responible for the eductation system for such huge country. 

One of my favorite things to do here is go to the store with the younger boys who live here (~ 7 yrs old). They are sent to the store to get avocados, cooking oil, coal for jiko and anything/everything else. The stores here are just a barred window with an opening, or a produce stand situated randomly by someone’s house. When we leave the house and walk village streets, everyone always looks our way and many repeat same greetings over and over.

A cool accomplishment: I carried a bucket of water (~ 5 gal) on my head!!! It’s quite hard to do it. Next time I run out of bathing water I’ll be paying someone to do it for me.

Every morning, a bajaji starts right outside my window. (bajaji = three tired motorized vehicle, main trasport in villages). This bajaji however is not in best shape. Every time it takes a few ignition turns before it starts. Today it took 32 tries for the bajaji to start. The first week here I woke up every time it would attempt to start, but now I can just sleep through anything. 

July 27, 2014 ~ 9 am 

First day with my host family! 

On Tuesday, June 15th, we all loaded a huge bus (65 seats) and headed to Korogwe (Tanga region). The ride was about 6 hours and we got to see some beautiful scenery!! We had lunch at TTC and loaded smaller vans to go to our host families! Our van had 2 CBT groups and we had to squeeze more people than there were seats. When we turned off the main road and into a village our LCF announced that Lynn and Alina need to get ready to leave. I kind of started freaking out! We were feathest away from the door and basically the whole van (besides 3 people) had to exit to let us out. Two ladies came out of two neighboring houses to greet us. Kathy came to greet me with her daughter Angelina (2 yrs), I tried to talk to her, but she started crying. We came inside the house and they showed me around the house. 

The house is pretty big and 8 people live there beside me. I have my own room with a full bed, nice clean sheets, buckets of clean water in the room, chair, coffee table, and a place to hang my clothes.

It is kind of awkward asking for things when you can’t speak the language. For example I really had to use the restroom, and PC told us many times not to wear regular shoes to the bathroom(choo). Well I did not have choo slippers and did not know what to do. I called a PC peer support volunteer and she told me to show them my reg shoes and say choo. I showed them to my mama and she immediately said hapana (no) and sent her daughter to the store to buy me some choo slippers. I went to the store with Margaret, it was already dark (~9pm) and quite an experience to walk around the village. The sky was beautiful and all the kids were greeting me with shikamoo (a greeting to an older person). 

My mama works as a nurse at a hospital and came home right before sundown. When dinner was ready, they pulled up a coffee table to me and set out a big platter of food in front of me. It was a lot of food and I think they expected me to eat all of it but luckily they also gave me a smaller plate to pour myself food. Only mama and kaka (James) ate dinner with me, and they had even more food set out in front of them. We prayed for food and started eating. Later Margaret joined us at the table. 

Taking a “bath” was also super interesting. You’re supposed to wrap yourself up in kangas to go to bathroom, and I couldn’t figure it out too well. Also, my bathing water is in my room, so I have to take a bucket, fill it with maji ya kuoga (bathing water), and carry it to a room with a hole in the ground to bathe. In the end it all worked out, it also helped that they have electricity and I did not have to fiddle with a flashlight. 

I went to my room around 9 pm to journal.  But in this village there are several Muslims and it was a time for prayer. So I heard the call to prayer the whole time I was journaling. I woke up at 5:30 am finished this blog with the morning call of prayer in the background (don’t know when I will have time to post it, but here it is).

July 16, 2014 ~ 6:30 am 

Last day before Korogwe! 

I am typing this as we are all watching THE LION KING!!! Tonight is our last night in Dar es Salaam, we are staying in a quite fancy Catholic Sanatarium which has running water, electricity and fantastic food. Because PC set up the lecture hall for presentations, we have a projector that they generously allowed us to use to watch a movie on our last night here!

So this week was quite fantastic! We found out our Community Based Training (CBT) groups! I will be in a village with 5 other volunteer and our village is about 5 km away from the Teachers Training College (TTC). Most days I will be meeting with just the 5 other volunteers who live in my village and our LCF (Language and Culture Facilitator). However at least once a week all 61 of us will be meeting at TTC to do things like: build a water filter, get vaccines, learn how to grow a garden etc. 

I absolutely love PC experience so far! We are learning so many things like “Can you smell your food?”, “Don’t eat with your left hand”, “What is appropriate wear to wear at home?”, demos on how to use a “kanga” and just sooooo many cool things!!!!! 

Tomorrow morning I will be heading out to the Tanga region. We will be loading a huge bus after breakfast and once arrive have lunch there. After lunch we will find out who our trainers are and with them go to our host families. We will be doing pretty much everything with our families, eat breakfast and dinner, go to church, learn to cook TZ food, learn how to do laundry and get integrated into the community. 

Cool aspect of culture here is that we have to greet everyone: if you don’t, you get named “the one who does not greet”. Standard greeting here would be like this. 
Habari gani? (What’s new?) 
-Nzuri, habari za nyombani? (Nothing new, what’s new at home?) 
Nzuri, habari za watoto? (Nothing new, what’s new with kids?)
-Njema, habari za chakula cha asubuhi? (Nothing, how was food of the morning?)
Nzuri. (Nothing new).

Basically, anything that starred with “Habari za …” you just answer “Nzuri/Njema” and only that. Quite awesome! Basically now I can say all greetings and there are seriously like eight ways to say “hello”. Also, now I can introduce myself: Jina lango ni Alina, ninatoka marekani, jimbo la Washington, mji wa Longview, Mimi ni walimu wa hisabati, ninakaa Dar es Salaam, ninafanya kazi Peace Corps. (my name is Alina, I am American, I’m from Washington, town longview, I will be teaching math (math=hisabati), right now I’m in Dar and I work for PC. 
Anyways, just a little bragging but I love all the language learning!!!! 

I will try to find a way to post about my host family soon, but Korogwe is a lot small than Dar. I guess I will never know the “next” time I have Internet. But now I’m gonna go back to watch the movie! 

I love you all (speaking to my family and friends). 

July 14, 2014 ~ 9:20 pm