This past week was a full one with a five day Language and Cultural Training by WUSC in Salima. Salima is about 1.5 hours away from Lilongwe, and is the name of the region and a town right on the shores of Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi, by the way, covers nearly 30,000 square kilometres, is 580 kilometres long, and 75 kilometres wide, and boasts the greatest diversity in fish species of any freshwatering lake in the world! The weather while we were there was mostly stormy and overcast, though we did have a few afternoons with sun (and you better believe that I went swimming even when it was stormy out - I only get so many chances to go swimming in Malawi, and that lake is just lovely!).
It was great to get to see Anna (my fellow INDEVOUR in this country) and meet some other WUSC volunteers who are living in Blantyre, as well as hang out with the WUSC volunteers that I live with in Lilongwe. In total, there were nine of us there for the training - all girls, and nearly all in our twenties, so we had a blast!
The first two days of the training were cultural training, and our facilitator, Franceswell was a rather funny guy. We enjoyed learning about Malawian history and culture on the first day, but it seemed to us that he got a little sidetracked on the second, so it wasn't really our favourite.
The third day was extra fascinating, as we drove to nearby Kungoni Centre of Culture and Art. It originated from the Mua Mission, an evangelistic movement set up by missionaries in 1902. In the 1970s, a Father came and set up the centre as a means of teaching local artisans more skills in woodcarving, and evolved into a way to preserve the traditions of the local cultures as well. Chisale (the Malawian name given to the Father who began the centre) was our tour guide for the day, and explained to us the traditional dances and their meanings as a troupe of local dancers performed for us. The dances are family dances, so the husband and wife always participate together, which I thought was really neat (and some of the women carry their babies on their backs). The traditional Chichewa dance is called Gule Wankulu and involves men dressing in costumes that represent various things, and performing in character while the rest of the village sings their song. It was very interesting, as there are thousands of different characters, and many have multiple songs - but they all knew them! Also, these characters and dances are a way for information to be communicated among the villagers - for instance, one character represented a heavy drug user, and his song warned against becoming addicted to drugs. Some of the girls even got to dance with the women during one of the songs!
The fourth and fifth days were language training days, and we had a lovely teacher named Austin, who, very patiently taught us the basics of Chichewa. He really was amazing, as not only did he understand the questions we were asking, he was able to explain all of them so that we could understand how the language operated - I have had few language teachers of that calibre, and it definitely inspired me to continue working on my Chichewa.
In our leisure time, we shopped the beach vendor wares, enjoyed the beach, chatted, and went swimming - though, most often, I was the only one getting wet! It was rather humorous to see the local cows take a stroll down the beach and enjoy the water - in amongst the fishermen, women doing laundry, children playing, and us tourists trying to have 'beach days'! Also, just an odd thing that I feel the need to share - we were out for dinner the one day, and the restaurant was playing a channel that first featured a pastor preaching with a backdrop of the Star Wars theme, and then played a Steven Curtis Chapman song!
Overall, it was a great week and full of learning experiences, and I am so thankful that WUSC organized this for us!
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.