Salima – The same day I moved into my new place, the two Junior Fellows arrived in town. Tim and Lauren, fresh out of pre-departure training in Toronto and in-country-training in Lilongwe, traveled to Salima to shadow me and get an initial taste of field experience before they head out into their districts.
Somehow, in 3 days, I had to convince these two people that I’m actually a competent individual and won’t completely run them astray in their 4 months in Malawi… Or at least make them believe that until they head out to their own districts.
Day 1 – Village
To get them to get used to the village life and the fact that I really needed to do laundry, I invited them to come to my village for the day. The plan was to have them watch me and, potentially, help me do my laundry. This seemed to be a bullet-proof idea.
After a bit of breakfast, I walked to the main road and hopped onto a bicycle taxi, heading into town. Picking them up at the guest house they observe me bargain down the price of a bike taxi to about 100 Kwacha (or $0.25) instead of the 200 Kwacha they initially offered for the trip.
Once in my village, I brought them into my home and sat back while they struggled with the accents and greetings in Chichewa as they met my new roommate and others from my community. It’s always a great reminder of the learning curve of learning a new language (which I still am in the midst of) and engaging with the familiar English with an unfamiliar accent. It was great fun to observe from the side lines the immense awkwardness that ensued when people are trying to hide confusion, while trying to be overly friendly.
After the initial greetings the were made, my roommate asked if they wanted to learn how to make lunch and they all disappeared into the kitchen while I rested and hung out in the bedroom, still unpacking my things.
ProTip: Making JFs cook you lunch in the initial few days in country is a great way to get a free effortless meal under the guise of cultural integration.