Saturday, October 29, 2011

Little Victories

Midterms: complete.  All in all, I think I did pretty well on them!  While I was in DC for the Boren training several people told us what to expect when learning a language: highs and lows; a moment in which I would feel like I knew less than I did when I arrived; moments when I thought I would never be able to learn this language; and breakthroughs where everything just starts to flow.  I feel like I'm finally in the last phase (and yes, I've experienced all of the others, too)!  Don't get me wrong - I still pull out my dictionary every 5 minutes in class and I'm not exactly reading the Swahili newspaper - but the language is becoming easier every day and I can see how far I've come since I got here 8 weeks ago.  It's exciting to think where I'll be in another 32 weeks!

I've made significant strides in a few other areas as well.  For example, my house mom, Mariam, loves to feed me.  After a few weeks of waking up early to eat breakfast with her, I finally just gave up the facade.  Let's face it: I'm not really a morning person.  And waking up extra early to eat breakfast (which is something I don't usually do anyway) wasn't exactly starting my day off right.  Thankfully, she seemed to get the point and she began packing my breakfast for me to take with me.  Thus began a new set of problems.  Instead of the cup of tea, biscuit and 2 pieces of watermelon I would eat, Mariam began handing me a BAG filled with an omelet, 1/4 of a watermelon, 2 or 3 oranges, a couple of pieces of sesame bread, a few small bananas and a container of cooked bananas.  Plus, a bottle of fresh-made juice.  (Not gonna lie - I love the juice...I am just not too sure where the coke bottle came from that she pours it in and whether or not it was ever washed.)  In case you're thinking that this feast of a packed lunch may just be the culture norm here, it's not.  Last week I walked into class and another student, Liz, said I was the talk of her dinner table the night before.  Apparently, everyone was talking about the "girl who walks through town with a giant bag of food" every morning.  Moral of the story:  With every victory, comes a new battle.  It may be smaller than the one before, but it's still a battle.  I've now convinced Mariam I don't need the omelet, but I'm still working on cutting out a few other items.

I may have mentioned in another earlier post my concern about laundry.  Seeing as I live in the projects, I don't really have a place to wash or hang out my clothes.

Stairwell - I live on the 4th floor

I suppose I could try to hang my laundry like these peeps,
but I'm not sure I want my underwear hanging out for all to see!

My place is on the fourth laundry line.
Thankfully, with 2 pair of clean underwear left in my closet, Ashley came to the rescue. She walked into school one morning and proudly announced that she had just taken her underwear into the shower with her, washed it and hung it into her room to dry.  Genius!  The next morning I brought 3 pair in with me, hung them under the fan on a hanger in my room and by the end of the day I had clean, dry, underwear that wasn't hanging out offensively for all of Zanzibar to see.  I sat in my bed that first afternoon and every time I looked up at my drying underwear another huge smile crept onto my face.  Victory.

Next week I'm starting Matinee Movie Day on campus.  All of the students from the University, families, and friends are invited.  We are watching Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never."  (Another big smile.)  The Zanzibari's I've spoken with are pretty excited about it - as are (most) of the Boren students.  I'm starting - or maybe just spreading - BieberFever here in Zanzibar!  I'll post pics next week.

This weekend I'm laying low, taking a little "me-time."  I have a lot of ideas and thoughts to put down on paper and am still focusing on how to best spend my time here next semester.  I know I say it almost every time, but thank you for your notes, messages and emails.  I love hearing about what's going on at makes you all feel closer.  Love and miss you!


  1. First of all, when did you start wearing underwear? Secondly, did you realize that in 32 more weeks from the day you started you would have had enough time to get pregnant and carry a baby full-term? And finally, we have about 2 more weeks before new baby arrives in our house! I miss you and I'm glad you are finally getting to the "ah-ha" moment with the language. it must be frustrating, but we are thinking about you - just mentioned your adventure to a friend the other day. Her response: "Swahili? That's a real language?".....Hahahaha! Love you!

  2. Mindy, your messages came at the absolute PERFECT time. I've been really sick and last night when my fever was out of control I got your comments on my phone. I needed the laugh...oh wait. You weren't joking about the underwear were you? Love you and miss you so much! Can't wait to see pictures of the new baby! Praying for a safe delivery, girl!

  3. You wear underwear? I JUST found you and signed up to follow!

    One little "blogger" tip from an old-timer (yes I mean me)...People never come back to the blog to read YOUR comments after they have left their comment through my gmail so that the reply goes right back to their gmail...

    Anyway, kiddo, now that I have found you- I will be following along. Sorry to hear that you were is awful to be sick when you are away from "home"...xo Diana