I’ve been at site almost a month now and I’m slowly getting my house together. It’s definitely been tough. There’s no work for me to do right now until the students get back and I have never been so bored in my life. We’re not really supposed to have work the first few months, we’re supposed to use the time to adjust and integrate into our communities. You guys know me, I’m a workaholic. I’m going insane! For the most part, my community knows me. When I walk to the dukkas in town I rarely hear “muzungu” called after me, and if I do I correct it almost immediately. The kids all run to the road and call me by my name. It’s funny though because for some reason they have a real hard time pronouncing ‘Ashley.’ Some get it without a problem but some say “Asheley” or, my favorite, “Ashery.” I think it’s cute and they always get so excited when I stop and talk to them. I’m getting to know the dukka owners too. I was having a terrible morning at the college a few weeks ago and I went into town to find an avocado to make some guacamole for lunch. No one had one. I was going through the whole formal greeting with everyone, trying to find just one stinking avocado. Finally, this man told me to follow him to where an older woman was working at a dukka. She came out and I greeted her, asked about her family, and introduced myself (all in local language!). She disappeared into the dukka for a minute and came back with an avocado that she proceeded to give me, free of charge, as a gift for moving here. I seriously wanted to start crying.
It’s crazy how you can have the highest high and lowest low all in the same day here. This happened to me last week when I broke down in front of my deputy principal. I was tired of being left out of meetings and I started crying in front of him. I went off about how they haven’t been fixing my house the way they said they would, how I have no idea what I’m supposed to teach because the other tutor never shows up, how I feel like a waste of resources being put here, how I’m not included in anything and they never let me know when things are going on. It was terrible. Later that afternoon when I got home one of the little neighbor boys, Paolo (who is so freakin cute, I love this kid!) came running up to me and gave me a huge hug. He told me he had put charcoal all around my house to keep the red ants from invading. It was the sweetest thing ever. The next morning he was knocking at my door at 7am to give me an avocado, 2 guavas, and a passion fruit…just because. I showed him and the other kids pictures of all you guys from home and when I showed him pictures of Mom, Mar, and Ang he was so excited he would actually get to meet them at Christmas time. He said he would help me kill chickens and pull their feathers off so we could have a good meal. All the kids said they couldn’t wait to give Mom and the girls local names…something for you guys to look forward to! These kids are my best friends here and sometimes they’re the only reason I can find to leave my house. They’re the reason I tolerate being propositioned for sex by boda drivers and they’re the ones who are always excited to see me return home, even if I’ve only been gone for 5 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing really well here. I’m settling into my house and becoming more and more comfortable on my own. No one has work the first few weeks and we are all going through the same frustrations of trying to find productive ways to spend the days. As they say here, mmpola mmpola…slowly slowly. I’m supposed to start teaching Monday, but we’ll see how that goes. My first few lessons will be child growth and development, sex ed, guidance and counseling in primary schools, and a general introduction to early childhood education. If anyone has advice on interactive ways to teach any of these topics, I will gladly welcome suggestions!
I should be getting the rest of my pictures next weekend, which means my goal for the next time I have internet access will be to upload ALL my pictures from training up until now…about 400 or so. Including pictures of my house! Thank you all for your encouraging emails and texts, they mean so much more to me than you know! Hope everyone is doing well with the end of the school year approaching. Happy 16th Birthday, Mar, I hope you liked the flowers. Congrats on graduation Kelsey, Jill, Jeff, Alex, and Xavi! Congrats also to Mr. and Mrs. Preston Milburn, I’m sure the wedding will be absolutely gorgeous! I love and miss everyone so much! I’ll try and update again soon.