Meet Naomi: An Education Fellow Working with us in Zambia

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I arrived in Katete on a Thursday afternoon; I had left home three day earlier at 3am Monday.  The long flights and long bus ride left a lingering exhaustion in the back of my head.  The air was warm and the sky blue so I sat a minute on the steps of Impact Network’s main office and watched as the red dust settled on the road.  Soon I am off, helping input data into spread sheets and experiencing the hustle and bustle of the busy staff working in the office.    

So here I am…on the next adventure!  My name is Naomi and I have come from the forests of Maine in the USA to intern with Impact Network for three months.  I am a Master’s student studying Global Policy with the University of Maine’s School of Policy and International Affairs.  Since volunteering at an orphanage in Zimbabwe in 2016, I have been excited to return to this part of Africa and working with an education NGO fits wonderfully with my studies and personal career goals. 

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                When I arrive in Joel village where I will be staying, it has already turned dark. My first impression of the village is the sounds of chatter all around. There is the sound of singing, drumming, babies crying, and laughter, laughter, laughter.  Sharon, another intern, and Lweendo, a Zambian staff member, show me to my modest room nestled between two classrooms in a block of the school.   As I settle in and await sleep, the music begins to rise and rise.  It feels as if it is all around me where I lay in my bed. I have arrived on the eve of a holiday and the village is celebrating!  The next morning, I emerge to the see the landscape.  The sun is just rising and already women crowd around the borehole to pump water in the middle of town.  They walk elegantly posed straight backed, bucket on head, back to their homes to begin the day’s activities.  Sharon and I have breakfast at our Zambian village host Bessie’s house, and then we are in the office and off to work.

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                By the end of my first week, I feel I have been here for much longer.  Under the guidance of the Director of Academics and Evaluation, Felicia, I am inputting and processing the data from last terms exams. This includes grades for 6,000 students and evaluations of over 120 teachers. I am using excel in all sorts of new ways!  I also started working with school support officers to help build sexual education and life skills curriculums.  Next, I will be headed out to schools to help with the literacy assessments of grade five students.   I can already tell that the summer will be packed full and I will learn a lot! 

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                Most days I am surrounded by people.  The students are excited to come talk to me.  Most children laugh and laugh as I greet them, Mwauka Bwanji, Muli Bwanji?   Again and again, I hear… how are you? How are you? How are you?   Me, I am just fine.  I am enjoying my new African home and looking forward to the months ahead.

- Naomi