Reading this week:
- Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Milton Giles
This past week I helped out with cluster site visit. During Pre-Service Training, the Trainees go on site visit. Site visit happens in two parts: first, they go to cluster site visit, where all the trainees of a certain language group (in our case, of course, Mambwe) assigned to the province go to a site visit together with PCVs. The second part of site visit is individual site visit, where they split up and visit their individual sites, alone. Cluster site visit gives the trainees the chance to get language and culture training close to where their actual site will be. It also gives them a chance to learn about the little tips and tricks of village life, like how to light a brazier or cool hints on how to set up their eventual home.
I wasn’t originally going to help with site visit but some plans fell through and I was free so I went. I couldn’t go for the whole time, but I spent two full days with the trainees. It was lead by another volunteer, Mitch, because it took place at his site. My main roles, besides imparting my wisdom and knowledge, were to help cook and clean while the trainees were in class.
I arrived at the site on Thursday afternoon after having hitched from Mbala. Mitch and the trainees were out at the time so I set up my tent and made myself comfortable. They came back and we cooked dinner. The next morning there was of course breakfast, and in the afternoon we did some technical training. Mitch brought the trainees around to view some of the ponds in his area. This gave the trainees a vision of what actual, in the field ponds looked like. For myself, I always like to keep an eye out for how other people do things and see if there were any ideas for me to implement. The other big part of this excursion was going off to see the village headman and ask him about his role for the benefit of the trainees.
The next day the big exercise was preps for the following day’s fish farming presentation. Part of the trainee’s assignment during site visit is to give presentations to local farmers in Mambwe about fish farming. This is mostly for the benefit of the trainees, frankly (the volunteer usually brings experienced fish farmers, and they know more than the trainees). It’s best to have hands-on activities and visuals, so Mitch thought it would be useful to send the trainees out into the village, armed with their knowledge of Mambwe, and have them find supplies. These included manure, cassava leaves, and ash. This was successful and with supplies gathered we went and looked at some more ponds.
The next day was Sunday and I had to depart. Mitch has a cool-looking hill near his site and I wanted to make sure I climbed it. I didn’t get a chance before, so on Sunday I woke up at 0430 and beat through grass in the dark to be on top of the hill for sunrise. It was worth it, despite getting soaked from dew. Mitch is on the east side of the escarpment that Mbala sits on, so from the top of the hill you could overlook this massive lowland covered with mist and fog at the beginning of the day. It’s a really great hill to get the lay of the land and see how everything is connected. Sightseeing accomplished, I went back to Mitch’s site and packed up to head out. I could have been in less of a hurry; it took me two hours to get a hitch, but I got home fine. I hope I managed to impart some wisdom and knowledge or whatever on the trainees, and I think they’ll have a great time at individual site visit.
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