I have returned to Korogwe after visiting my future home in Mpui, Rukwa!! It was an amazing, long trip on which I met so many current Peace Corps Volunteers in Iringa and Mbeya along the way. Each one of them inspired or excited me a little more than the last about my upcoming service. Many people have been apologetic or joke with me about how far away my site is from what we know. While I am in fact the farthest volunteer from the Peace Corps Office in Dar, I am happy to be out there. I love to see the less traveled areas and enjoy seeing everyone along the way. I will make the best of my unique situation… When life gives you lemons…
Mpui Secondary School has about 400 students who regularly attend class. On my first morning there I introduced myself to the whole school, in both English and Swahili. Dressed in solid purple uniforms, students stared with amazement, wonder, excitement and even a little fear about meeting a white man. Instruction is meant to be in English, so I led off with “Hello, my name is Mr. Ryan Lemon.” The students responded with resounding laughter, over the extreme difficulty of saying my name. The trouble with the letters “R” and “L” make my name a very difficult one to pronounce correctly. “Lion… Lion Remon?” That’s good enough for me. The next thing I said to the students was, “I will be teaching physics here for the next two years.” To this, the students gave me a standing ovation for about 20 seconds. I had to hold back tears, I was so happy to have students that genuinely appreciate having the chance to learn. They currently do not have a physics teacher, so they are excited to have the opportunity to learn and are patiently awaiting my final arrival to start teaching in a couple of weeks. Not having a physics teacher for so long may have set some of these students back a ways, but when life gives you Lemons, you have a chance to learn.
My house is on school grounds and is government housing, which means it is fairly nice. It is way larger that I could ever need, including a living room, three bedrooms and an enclosed courtyard to do my cooking in, or to keep chickens. I have a solar panel that powers the the lights and an a couple outlets inside. Parts of my house will need to be changed, but I have plenty of time to make furniture or paint the interior rooms. I got to check out the town a bit and see where to find the bus stop, the police station, the health center and the market. The market visit made me a bit nervous, as I did not see a single piece of fruit. Any vegetable I could ever want was present, but fruits were nowhere to be found. I believe that they are seasonal and will come with the rain in a few months. Perhaps the best way I can combat my fruit deficiency: inside my courtyard is my very own lemon tree.
I’m so glad life gave me lemons.