As promised I have decided to do a special feature on the big day since I was not able to include photos and feels in the last post. I was going to post last week but due to unforeseen data connection problems I could not.
The morning of swear-in was fairly stressful mostly because of first world problems but for me problems nonetheless. I had gotten a skirt made earlier in the week by the same woman who made my overall dress, except I can’t say that I had the same reaction about the skirt. While I was running around trying to figure out what to wear I also had to pack my bags and bring them to a truck that was taking them to the bus we would be taking the next day. Due to the distance between Morogoro and Shinyanga I, along with a couple other volunteers had to catch a 6am bus so Peace Corps was nice enough to take our bags to the bus the day before and load them for us so we didn’t have to worry about them the next morning. After finally getting ready we practiced (click here to see a very interesting performance) and the sat and waited for the guest of honor to arrive. After waiting for about an hour the guest finally arrived and we began the ceremony. During the ceremony we heard from staff, trainees, and even one trainee’s host father. This is when things really felt real; toward the end of the ceremony the country director, Nelson, spoke. He had as raise our right hands and repeat after him. I stood there mindlessly repeating everything, all I could think was, “wow…. I live in Africa, I have never been out of the country before, and on Monday I’m about to be dropped off with my sorry excuse for Swahili to fend for myself… what did I get myself into!”
After the ceremony we met back up with members of our host family that had attended so we could have lunch. Because my host sister is of schooling age she was not able to attend due to the time of day, but Mama Nelly was able to make it and she presented me with a necklace from Kayla and a beautiful headscarf (both pictured below; sad to report I lost the head scarf that night). We talked about what she had been doing since I left and how she was so happy to see me, and as always she continued to tell me to remover who I was and where I am and that I am a strong woman. I was appreciative of the constant self esteem boost.
I have said it before and I will say it again, I am very appreciate of Nelly. To be so strong and independent in a society that tends to view woman in just the opposite; to be firm in her decisions and respected by so many. My whole life I have been surrounded by strong woman and even here in Tanzania the theme continues. Again and again, in the short time I’ve been here, I continue to interact with strong woman raising strong girls and it’s refreshing to see.
The day was long and the night was fun. After everything was cleaned up and people has begun to disappear the atmosphere changed. It was like the last day of school when it’s starting to become summer, the air outside is warm but not to hot and the school has closed early; there are still people around but it’s not the recognizable buss of everyday school lif, instead a low murmur of voice as teachers are finishing work and saying goodbye. This is what it was like, like it was time to relax but like always the time to relax was gone in the blink of an eye. We all went out for drinks and pizza, and of course karaoke. We spent the time talking about how crazy it was going to be that we had spent all this time together and we were about to leave each other and be alone. Although PST has not been rainbows and butterflies all the time I am thankful for the friendships it has brought me and the things I have learned in such a short time. Now, I’m ready for the next step; Karibu Shinyanga.