It’s been a while since I posted. The last month in Lilongwe was very full, and busy, so I’ll try and write a decent summary of my last weeks there. I’ll also post some other stories and thoughts too. So, there will still be plenty left to read.
I was a taxi for the last four weeks. Part of what COBT does is assist with national (Malawian) and international work placements (practicums) for programs that overlap with our work. So four Doctorate of Physiotherapy students from Texas arrived in Malawi to assist us in our work and learn some practical realities of hands on therapy, not to mention therapy in the Third World.
Being on the receiving end of ‘newbies’ adjusting to a very different culture was entertaining to say the least. In the end they did well, but it is so hard to be in Malawi for only a month and have a solid understanding of much of the culture, and the people, without being frustrated by western expectation. I know as I’ve been there. Month One is rough. Cultural complexities take a lifetime to learn and appreciate. For myself, having been in Malawi six months, I know I hardly scratched the surface of understanding or even being really that useful. Time, time, time, is what it takes. You really need a year to become ‘useful’ and 2 – 3 years to complete the culture shock cycle. To really get your hands on 'first person experience', something one cannot be taught or learn other than living it out in the flesh, is invaluable…so I’m told. I hope I get a chance to live out that 2 – 3 year cycle one day so I can tell you for myself.
By the end of their trip the students were doing well (better) with big spiders and roaches, they learned a few Chichewa greetings, AND… kicked butt negotiating price at the market! So proud! They did awesome! It was such a pleasure to drive them to and fro in Lilongwe. I hope I didn’t give them too much of a fright with ‘survival driving’ a.k.a. how to get from A to B fast and ‘safe’, (safe-ish) while dodging minibuses (the demolition derby team!) I hope we can work with them again one day...Africa has a way of getting into your blood, so I’m told, and in more ways then just malaria. =p