A Good Year

Over the past month that I have been back in the UK I have been trying to find the words to put in a final blog on my life in Malawi. I have failed miserably in this task and have now come to the conclusion that although there is so much to be said knowing where to start is impossible and it always will be.

Returning to the UK everything is the same but different.  Walking down the road I miss the greetings from strangers and cries of ‘Azungu’ from children and quite frankly being completely anonymous again seems a little bit disappointing (I’m getting used to it!). When I sat in one of my first lectures as a student one of the few things I remember was being told that each  theory of international relations was like putting on a different pair of glasses to view the world and this is certainly something which I can relate to more today as a result of living in Malawi. Returning to one’s own culture and country does allow you to look at it with new eyes. One becomes more aware of people’s facial expressions, how interactions take place and how much interaction doesn’t take place as we go about our lives focussed only on the tasks for the day. And having been totally preoccupied with job hunting I am very guilty of falling back into these habits. So whilst I can continue to muster up the Malawian in me I give you a very very brief and rather jumbled account of why I had a good year.

I still clearly remember my first day at St Johns College of Nursing and Midwifery. Being British I of course remember the weather. I couldn’t believe I was in Sub-Saharan Africa as it was misty, cold and pouring with rain. I sat at the back of the Principal Tutor’s lecture and couldn’t hear a word he said because of the rain beating down on the tin roof. I wondered how I would survive and how on earth I would learn the names of all the students that were sat, row upon row, in front of me. But I did survive and I learnt all those names plus a few more.

It turned out that the key to my survival were my colleagues and my students who right from the start welcomed me into their house and made me part of their family. Without all of them life in Malawi would have been a lot harder and a lot duller. Between my students and my colleagues I learnt how to write an OSCE and exams, eat rice with my ‘natural forks’, speak Chitumbuka, tie a chitenje and balance a book on my head. I learnt the value of taking time to greet people in the morning, to be grateful for the fact that a meeting had taken place rather than worry about the fact there were no decisions made and (yes its cheesey) I learnt that giving and receiving kindness is priceless. It wasn’t all learning I was also lucky enough to see Malawi’s absolutely beautiful landscape and spent many happy weekends swimming in Lake Malawi or climbing many hills and mountains.

So my year in Malawi was amazing, humbling and is one that I am aware I am very privileged to have had. And actually the only thing that has to be said in this very public sphere is to Malawi and it’s ‘yewo chomene tawonge.’

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nikki Bradshaw-Smith
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 03:19:47

    Wonderful Jess….. but want to know what yewo chomene tawonga means! Xx

    Reply

  2. Herman Fung 馮學文
    Jul 03, 2014 @ 11:57:36

    Reblogged this on Herman is Out of the Office and commented:
    A poignant farewell blog post from my fellow VSO volunteer. Well said Jess! I miss Malawi. Its good will, adventure and all its frustrations, too.

    Reply

  3. Jones Nkosi
    Jul 12, 2014 @ 13:53:27

    hey! i am from Mzuzu! yewo chomene, tawonga! when are you back? wish i had come across your blog earlier….

    Reply

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