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 

Language classes, this is how its done!!!

Intro to med training!

Hanging out in the PC volunteer lounge!! It has AC!!!

Not the best photo, but this is pretty much how my outfits will look like for the next 27 months!

Getting to Tanzania and first day here!

I have finally arrived to Tanzania!

I left my house early morning on July 5, 2014. The sun was not even up yet as I headed to the airport. A wonderful group of friends and family took me to PDX and said final good-byes as I ventured into the unknown future! I arrived to Philadelphia and that same night a group of about 15 volunteers went out to eat and walk around the city. It was really nice to be able to meet my roommate and fellow volunteers before any official business. The next morning we had our staging event where we became Peace Corps Trainees (PCTs)!!!!

We were scheduled to leave to JFK airport the next morning at 2 am. All 61 of us volunteers + some staff, with all 150+ bags were filling up the hotel lobby for about 40 minutes when staging staff announced that our busses will be at least 2 hours late. After a few more bumps in the road we got to the airport with time to spare were I made my last phone call. After 15 hour flight to J-Burg and a 6 hour layover, we finally boarded our plane to Dar es Salaam!!! The flight was pretty short and we were greeted by PC staff at the airport!!!

We are spending out first week in Dar at a Catholic Mission compound. When we arrived at the compound there were more PC staff and volunteers (PCV) greeting us here and cheering for us as we walked into a hall where we will have our meetings this week. We all got cool PC bags with malaria meds, water, mosquito repellant + folders with paperwork. After instruction on malaria meds, receiving our room keys, and taking group photo we headed to dinner: delicious dinner!!!!

Our room here is quite nice. I have 2 roommates and we have our own bathroom with a shower. The beds all have mosquito nets; I’m quite happy that all the bug cannot get to me while I sleep. I went to sleep at 10 pm and did not have to wake up till 6:45 am. However, my body was ready to be up at 3:30 am. I decided to be productive in the early morning hours and washed some clothes and wrote some of this blog.

Today (July 9) we had interviews with medical officers to choose malaria prophylaxis and get a vaccine schedule (I got 2 vaccines today and will be getting 5 more soon).

Food: for the next 10 weeks we will be getting breakfast (7:30), chai break (10am), lunch (noon), soda break (3:30) and dinner (7pm). Both chai and soda brakes also include a snack.

Training: our training sessions go from 8 am to 5 pm and cover everything from, how to prevent theft, how to make a filter, how to test your blood for malaria, how to get/use a cellphone and many more topics.

Swahili: today we had open time to practice Swahili on our own. I know how to say basic greetings and a few other sentences but our official training has not started yet.

I am posting this blog from PC office in Dar and I am not sure when I will have access to internet again. I love you all!!!!! 

At this time please DO NOT send me packages yet!