One year Zam-iversary reflections

In honor of my one year Zam-iversary, I’ll bypass the “sorry for the lack of posts” and the “Hannah the oversensitive” typical statements and get right to the chase. My time in Zambia is difficult to describe. It is everything. It is my highest highs and my lowest lows, my biggest epiphanies and the ultimate mundane. In honor of my one year in this place and the reflection it threw me into, I leave you with this: a list of random thoughts I’ve written during different times in my service. Things I’ve written in my journal/ my lesson plan book/ scrap papers/ the walls/ whatsapp chats/ etc.

June 14, 2015 (four days after arrival to Zambia)
Ba Rave (our training coordinator) – “Remember this is an experience that no one can take from you. It is so rich. Remember that. Not one bit of money could ever buy this experience from you. It will be with you forever.”

June 26, 2015
This present moment is beautiful. . Never thought that the sound of my feet could be so memorizing, the stars could be so bright, that these new relationships could feel so real so quickly, Wow, the universe is so good to me. It always brings me such wonderful people. I’m very happy here.

August 3, 2015
Tough day. I don’t want to write. But here I go; here are some things for which I am thankful:

  1. My Zambian family, the Lungus


    Ba Stefania (my head teacher) and Bayama (uncle)

  2. Past loves
  3. The ability to read and write
  4. Peace Corps Medical Office
  5. Zambian teachers who care
  6. That blanket on my bed
  7. An extra notebook
  8. Malarone (my malaria prophylaxis)
  9. Sunrises/ sunsets and their colors
  10. Wine

September 5, 2015 (2 days after arrival in village in which I will serve)

Today I thought I could carry 20 liters of water on my head and dropped it in front of about ten people who all looked terrified. It shattered and eventually we all laughed.
Also a chicken got in my house and I couldn’t get it out. Then it pooped on my floor.

September 16, 2015


Kristen, Mapalo and Eme 

  1. Reading notes from friends in the U.S.
  2. Throwing rocks at the mana apple tree wth the neighborhood kids. Cheering when one falls. Sharing all the winners.
  3. Reading Bemba books with Bayama Ba Francis (host uncle). He is so patient and a great teacher.
  4. Conversations on the phone with family back home. It’s funny how close I can feel with them when we are so far away.
  5. Chalk writing with the neighborhood kids.
  6. Writing by candle light on the porch while cooking.
  7. Rare natural moments of laughing, laughing, laughing with Ba mayo (mom), Bayama (uncle), Ba Charity and Ba John.

September 20, 2015
Can I every think about the world the same or will I always think differently now? I think this experience is changing everything.

October 5, 2015
Today I wasn’t capable
I couldn’t spell, speak or hear
I was stupid and ignorant
People pointed out my faults

October 17, 2015
I wake up every morning and thank God for turning on the lights.

November 15, 2015
This weekend I did NOTHING productive. But I honestly have never felt closer to my Zambian family.

November 25, 2015
Thing’s I’m thankful for-

  • Having power at school
  • Sneaking winks with the kid in the overalls at church
  • When some new cooking creation actually works
  • When Bayama saw that I was having a hard time starting the fire so he came over with dry wood to help me.
  • Watching kids read
  • Joseph (a great pupil) “Madam I am missing you” on Saturday. (the last time he saw me was Friday)
  • Little Oscar insisting on helping me with all my chores
  • Voice messages from friends

December 9, 2015
I’ve been on this Peace Corps journey for 6 months exactly today. Wow!

December 31, 2015
The last day of 2015. Wow.


Goofy faces with Gay and Bwalya

Hannah Mathers- most likely to be the hypest chick at the club. Most likely to fall in love with every place she goes, most likely to ask for directions, to write in her journal that she needs to write more, to laugh at herself, to need to communicate. Most likely to practice ‘out of sight, out of mind’, to lose stuff. Most likely to seek affection.
Learning a lot about myself.

January 5, 2015
I am a walking billboard of privilege and opportunities that many of the people around me will likely never have access to.
“You’ll live just like the people” they said. It greatly affected my decision to leave “everything” behind and “serve” in another country. My understanding of this whole experience has grown exponentially. In a way, I’m sure we are living like the people we are “serving”. We are speaking their language, fetching water at the same hole and waking up to the same sunrise that gives us light. However, “living like the people” doesn’t adequately describe this experience for me. Living like the people would mean no malaria prophylaxis, little food options, no peace corps appointed bike helper, and absolutely no toll free phone lines in case of emergencies where a cruiser may just magically appear at your door for a sprained ankle. It means no weekend trips to the boma (the closest city) just to kick it with friends. And it sure as hell means no Malawi trips to binge on food and booze, it means living in a skin color that has been oppressed since the beginning of “civilization” (something some volunteers understand). The privilege I was born into is deep. It’s not something that can just be stripped with a tiny 2-year leave from the over-luxurious comforts of the U.S. We are merely experimenting. We will never know their struggle.

January 7, 2016IMG_3674
New day!
“No matter how much logic I cram into my brain, it can’t push out the feelings in my heart.”
I’m on the up! Riding this slump out, doing what I gotta do to feel better.

February 15, 2016
It scares me when I realize how much of my happiness is based on others. My good days are based on others while my bad days also are.

February 19, 2016
I spend more time than ever thanking God for things that have always existed in my life. The sunlight in the morning that allows me to see. The wind that starts my brazier (my fire), The rain that waters the crops and fills up my bathing basin. The moon and the light it brings or the light it doesn’t bring so we can see the beautiful stars. Wow, God’s creation is truly beautiful. What a special little experience I am having here during my small time here on Earth. Who am I to be able to experience such joy?

February 25, 2016 (during a meeting)

March 23, 2016


My home

The saddest things in my life:

  • My memory
  • All the lives I will never live
  • All the lives I’ve lived but have forgotten

I can’t write these days. What’s up with me.

April 15, 2016 (on my walls)

“I am the one thing in life I can control.”
Always give grace. Cuz you sure as hell need it too, honey.

May 1, 2016
Sometimes I wonder if I am afraid to write because I’m afraid of what will be exposed in my own thoughts. I don’t feel very connected to my soul, to mother earth right now. I just feel a little disconnected lately. I haven’t had a moment where I am in awe of the universe’s beauty lately.

May 30, 2016
I don’t know how to tell you that I live in a small village in the Samfya district of the Luapula province in Zambia.
Yes, that’s in Africa
but I don’t know how to tell you that treating this continent like its just one, less fortunate, uniformed, hungry, dark skinned country is harmful and simply extremely false.

June 7, 2016 (in a letter to a family)
I’m so thankful for my peace corps volunteer community. We share stories, food, tears and laughter. I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of a tighter friend group.

June 13, 2016
Had a couple really good days. Thankful for joy and grace and this present moment.


My grade 8 pupils killin it


One comment

  1. Kerry Price

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts over the past year.  Having had nieces who did mission trips to parts of Africa – I think I understand the wideleaps between your ‘downs’ and your ‘ups’.   And of course, God understands.Keep those journals and scraps of paper – they will mean so much when inyears to come you will be ‘homesick’ for you Zam friends, family and experiences.  Lots of love and prayers coming your way, Hannah.Kerry

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