Yesterday was technically my second day visiting my work site this week, but it was actually my first day literally in the office, since I spent the previous day out in the rural areas.
I pretty much worked from 9:00-3:30 and a large majority of my day was done in Swahili. Sheesh! What a tough day! I spent a lot of the day with a woman who works in the Women's Desk, Hilda. She is the first staff in my department that I've met. (The woman I mentioned meeting on my first day at the job site, Emelia, is a college intern and she has only worked in the office for 1 month, so I'm not really counting her.) Hilda speaks almost no English, so our conversations were mostly done in Swahili. I managed to meet with her for a good hour before we reached a point where I felt concerned I might be either missing parts of what she was saying or misunderstanding some of the finer details. Once we reached that point we called in Emilia to help translate whenever I felt I needed it.
I am really proud of the fact that I survived a day like this. Not that the women weren't totally helpful and really understanding. I mean, I keep imagining what it would be like if the roles were reversed and a foreigner came into my office at my previous employment in the States saying she didn't speak the language but she wanted to help. We would've said "Thanks, but no thanks" and that would be that. Instead of kicking me out or making me feel like an idiot for not speaking the language, these ladies welcomed me with open arms and really helped me out. They spoke slowly and simply so that I could understand what they were saying. They patiently waited while I pulled my new vocabulary words out of the recesses of my brain. And, when we had nothing else to talk about, we sat down to tea! I would've had lunch with them as well, but my boss, Paul, wanted to take me out to lunch, which was also really sweet.
All things considered, I think the day was a success. I learned a little about the office and the work they do. I got to know the staff a bit. And I confirmed my belief that I have a long way to go in my Swahili before I can really do much more than "survive" a day in the office!
P.S. Here are some pictures from my trip out to the village on Tuesday.
Here is a dam that was built by the Caritas Office using Food for Work Funds
Here are two of my colleges, both named George, standing in front of the dam. This area was so beautiful, but there's just no way to capture the beauty on camera.*
*Have you noticed that black spot in the bottom left side of all our pictures for the past little while? Yeah, what a pain! A piece of sediment or something has gotten into our camera lens and is showing up in all our pictures. Luckily, some family of our fellow MKLMer are coming to TZ in April. So, we've ordered a new camera and had it shipped to them in the US so they can bring it to us when they come. Not really what I thought would happen 2 months into our journey. But we're rolling with it.