By Alia Hammerstone
While I sit and reflect on my time in Zambia, what I am struck most by is a deep sense of gratitude for the entire experience. There are countless things to be thankful for- the people, schools, sights and sounds, smells and emotions. So this is my own experiment in gratitude.
Thank you, Zambia.
Thank you for the warm welcome from the moment we stepped off of the plane. From your warm hellos, accompanied by a hearty handshake, to your thoughtful goodbyes, I am so appreciative to have been hosted with such hospitality. You made my stay feel like a home away from home. I loved the way you invited us into your homes, classrooms, and lives with a humbling hospitality.
Thank you for the inspirational teachers- those that work hard to better the lives of their students with little more than a passion for education and an inspiring amount of creativity. I so loved sitting in your classrooms, watching students excitedly engage in the lessons that included more than just content; they included life lessons that will help your developing nation continue to grow and improve the lives of Zambians.
Thank you for the sights and sounds. Every. Single. Day. From waking up to the chorus of roosters, chickens, turkey and Guinea hens, to the days at school spent enjoying the laughter and constant songs of your students, I loved the perpetual melody of your nation. Waking up to the gorgeous sunrises over the bush and sitting on the porch while the sunset in fiery hues of pinks and oranges, the views were as breathtaking as the sounds.
Thank you for the meals- and not just for the delicious nshima and soya chunks- but for the sense of community and togetherness they provided. From sitting and reflecting mid-day at school, watching students congregate and discuss their lives, to the daily dinners at the Schwartz’s home full of reflection and conversation, I enjoyed the camaraderie that each meal brought.
And most of all, thank you for the lessons you have taught me. It is not, in fact, what we have that makes us who we are. It is, rather, how we use what we have that makes us the phenomenally unique individuals that we all are. Someone told me that while the currency of Zambia may be kwacha, the currency of the Zambian people are relationships.
To quote the gentleman on the tarmac of Kenneth Kaunda International Airport just before departure, “I’ll see you when you see me next.”