Tag Archives: narrative

Beginning of a New and Old Journey

By Jae Oh

Makupo Village

Heading to Makupo Village

On May 29th, with 9 other enthusiastic and spirited prospective teachers, I arrived at Lilongwe, Malawi. I set my foot on Africa for the fourth time, surrounded by warm welcomes just like the weather. For a few hours, I lived in my old memories as an 11-year-old girl wandering in small alley ways along the Nile River and the pyramids, an 18-year-old safari adventurer sweating on Mountain Kilimanjaro, and a 20 year-old intern teacher working at a local kindergarten near Nairobi, and finally returning back to a 23 year-old myself researching in The Warm Heart of Africa. Everything seemed new and old; I felt like I finally came back home after a long break.

Living up to their reputation, people in Malawi, especially the residents of Makupo Village are not shy to show their warmth of heart. No matter how many people they meet, they would greet each individual person and shake hands one-by-one, with gentle and kind smiles on their faces. This is never an exception even when I was being unintentionally rude by not knowing how to greet them back in Chichewa, the local language. Every time, they would patiently remind me and be happy that I was trying. Each village is like a one big family, where one finds joy in helping another and shame in pushing their responsibility to others.  These friendly, hardworking people are the real jewel I found in Malawi.

As it has been for millions of years, Mother Nature is the source of everything to the people, even the faraway travelers, from tasty meals to nightmares at night. Sand, sky and trees become friends as well as teachers to children and coworkers to adults in the farms. And even though I thought I knew what to expect and felt prepared, I couldn’t fully appreciate all I received. Among all the extra giant, fast and scary looking insects, I got a nightmare about a big flat venomous spider which welcomed me on the first day. Yet, brushing teeth under starry night sky never gets old. Each day, I get more used to the Malawian routine of waking up at 6 am and going to bed at sundown. I have indeed started to appreciate little things in my old and new life.

Soon the group will start working toward the goal of developing curriculum for first grade students. I’m less anxious than before because all the group will be working together, gathering knowledge and skills. My personal focus is developing science curriculum and making comparisons with the Quebec Education Program, Kenya Education Program and Malawi Education Program in hope to benefit not one but all. For now, my goal this week is to get over my nervousness and culture shock so that I will be ready to spend some valuable time for me and the future generation.

Tionana bwino! See you soon!

May 27, 28, 29: This Time for Africa

By Naomi Crisp

First thoughts of Malawi

First thoughts of Malawi

Right now I am sitting under a mango tree in Makupo, Malawi… Africa! I am being blessed with a warm sun and needed breeze. I am facing 10 village children dancing with their fuchsia flowers and digging their feet into the copper dirt. It has been an incredibly long 3 days but I have arrived to the place I have heard so much about and worked hard to get to.

My travels started on Monday night as Dr. Stonebanks collected me from my apartment at 9:30pm and then Elise on the way up to their house. We rested there until 1am and then the adventure began. Dr. Di Mascio was kind enough to drive Dr. Stonebanks, Arshad, Roxy, Elise and I to Montreal airport. As our Praxis Malawi group was signing our luggage through, the chaos began. One of the girls happened to bring her old passport rather than the new one. Barbra’s husband and Mel came to the rescue at 4 am retrieving the passport and getting it to the airport. Needless to say, the stress levels were very high and the race was on. The passport arrived but she had to get the next flight to Toronto. When everyone was back together again in the Toronto airport the stress died down and our crew began our 3 hour wait for the next flight to Ethiopia.

This flight was the big one, 12 hour on a busy airplane across the ocean. We all tried to sleep but it seemed impossible due to crying children, stale air and airport seating. Even though I can honestly say the flight was far from wonderful it did not dismay me in any way as I knew this was the flight that took me to Africa. As we flew over Atbarah at about 2 am (May 28th), I saw the most amazing sunset out of the window. The bright reds and contrasting blacks and blues were a sight I will never forget, it gave a strange feeling of understanding… though I don’t know of what it was directed towards.

The flight went on as the day broke and my cold that I had been fighting off came back for a visit, making the flight that much more enjoyable. A few airplane meals later we landed in Ethiopia. A rush of excitement came over me in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I was so close to being in Malawi (a place I could only dream of being) doing a project I now have the maturity and knowledge to complete. Ethiopia gave me drive (no matter how tired my body was). With a short lay over in a busy airport we were on board the plane heading to Lilongwe, our destination. Due to the pure exhaustion of traveling, the flight was a 3 hour confusing mix of reality, dream and chicken curry.The plane landed and I could see nothing but dirt and trees on both sides, confusing me even more so, but around the corner was the airport and our bus to take us home to Makupo. An easy transition of plane to bus put us on the road to the village.

It was difficult for everyone to stay awake on the drive as the sun was so hot and the wind blowing through the window so magnificently and people faded off until we slowed to enter the village. We awoke to the screams of excitement from the children as they chased the bus along the dirt road. Turning the corner, the children were joined by the adults singing a choir of such joy and welcoming. That moment was one of love and family.

We got out of the bus and were individually welcomed and introduced in both English and Chichawe to everyone and set up things in the hostel. This was all a bit overwhelming but appreciated nonetheless. The chief gave a beautiful welcoming speech that came from the heart and was expressed through his eyes. Dr. Stonebanks replied in an equally loving statement. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with children and walking around the village, talking to people and starting to allow ourselves to accept this amazing land as our own.

The air is cooling now, the children gone and my friends inside so I will leave this blog by expressing the peace that is felt in this moment.