Freeloading in Zambia

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Goal #3

One of the primary goals of Peace Corps is to promote the exchange of culture and understanding between Americans and people in all parts of the world. It's an admirable goal, if a bit nebulous. Peace Corps does more than just give lip service to it, too - we've had several two hour sessions during training earmarked for the purpose of teaching us about Zambian history, customs, and traditions.

I'm not going to say whether or not I think these sessions are worthwhile. Yes I will - I don't. The most recent, though, is the singular exception. For this special session we separated into two groups - one for the women, one for the men. Anytime there is something that can only be said in the presence of people of the same sex you know that it's going to be interesting, and I wasn't disappointed.

One thing that I've learned is that Zambia has a VERY traditional view of gender roles (men putting food on the table, women cooking it), and that any public discussion or even acknowledgment of sex is FORBIDDEN. The purpose of this class was to give us fair warning about the whats, whys, and hows of gender relationships in Zambia, but it quickly veered off the path into something else entirely. I'm not sure if it's the result of years of repression, but our Zambian trainers (and admittedly some of the volunteers) were talking about the birds and the bees in greater detail than I've ever encountered in such mixed company.

I won't go into the same level of detail that we did in our class (you're welcome, family members). I will say only that Jebros - a married, 40-something Zambian language trainer - was at one point in the center of this circle of men, on his back, showing us the techniques Zambian women use to please the men in their lives. I'm no prude, but there were moments where even I was blushing.

So I ask myself, was this a necessary element in our cultural exchange? Do I now know more about Zambia and its people? In the eyes of Peace Corps, was that moment the point at which we can look at Goal #3 and say, "Mission accomplished"?

I believe the answer is yes on all counts.

59 Comments:

  • At 2:27 AM, Blogger Blinded said…

    Wyatt I just love reading your blog, more now than when you were in the US. Keep writing!

     
  • At 10:10 PM, Blogger CrazyEgyptian said…

    So, I am curious .... did you learn anything? ;)

     
  • At 8:32 PM, Blogger kylakaye said…

    Why would they do that?

     
  • At 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    maybe they would do that because they aren’t repressed middle America, suffocated by a hypocritical religion

     
  • At 3:43 AM, Anonymous donk said…

    i'm guessing that last post was from Max....

     
  • At 4:36 PM, Blogger kylakaye said…

    So because they aren't repressed by a hypocritical religion they need to show the Americans how they perform sex acts? Still doesn't make sense, sorry.

     
  • At 2:54 PM, Blogger Blinded said…

    I love you Wyatt.
    -B

     
  • At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Ben Z. from HU said…

    I'll miss you, Wyatt, and best wishes on your next big adventure. It was a privilege to have known you in your short time with us.

    My most heartfelt condolences to the Ammon family for their loss.

     
  • At 11:44 PM, Blogger lauren e said…

    i love you, wyatt...

    my most sincere condolences to the whole ammon family. you are all in my prayers.

     
  • At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please visit www.wyattammon.org to post your memories and thoughts for his family. There is no greater loss, than to lose a child.

     
  • At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rest in Peace, Wyatt. You have been, and will be, missed by your friends at Hamline University. May you be up to bigger and better things "up there."

     
  • At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm so glad to have known you. Quick wit, good looks, and such a smart individual. You have it all.

    Thank you.

     
  • At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I miss you, Wyatt.

     
  • At 6:29 AM, Blogger Blinded said…

    We all Miss you very much Wyatt.

     
  • At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love you Wyatt, you will never be forgotten.

     
  • At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am just so mad Wyatt that that hotel would have a window that would shatter just by you leaning up against it. What kind of crap is that? I can't stand how senseless this all is, and how now my whole life seems senseless. I feel so hopeless. You shouldn't have died, it isn't right. Come back to me.

     
  • At 7:43 PM, Blogger kylakaye said…

    REST IN PEACE MY BEAUTIFUL BROTHER. I WILL BE WITH YOU AGAIN SOON. I LOVE YOU WITH MY WHOLE HEART, SOUL AND BEING. YOU ARE MY SHINGING STAR.

     
  • At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Bobbie said…

    Wyatt, the lives that you touched will never be the same without you.

     
  • At 5:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wyatt, you were the best friend anyone could ever ask for. You have touched my life and the lives of many. We all are better for have known you. Rest in Peace my friend. You will be in my memories and prayers for life. I will never forget you. All i can say is THANK YOU SO MUCH. Thank you for the great times, and especially for the laughs. You have helped make me into the person i am today. For that i am eternally grateful.
    Thank you my friend
    REST IN PEACE

     
  • At 11:30 PM, Blogger Geminitwin said…

    Wyatt I was rather very amused by your blog and found your experiences rather comical.I am Zambian you see and most of the things you said and have observed are unfortunately the reality of life in Rural Zambia and even in the City Compounds.I am sure you felt as though you were on a different planet as you experienced first hand how the other half lives.I felt the same way when I first came to the US EXCEPT the only difference here is this other half is richer.I wish I had staeted my blog three years ago when I first arrived.Anyway I will continue reading your blog it brings back some laughter and bitter sweet memories of home.Are you still in Zambia

     
  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger Geminitwin said…

    Wyatt I did not realize that you are deceased MSRP.I am sure you in the hearts and minds of those Zambians that knew you and whose lives you touched.We shall meet some day in another place.

    Rest in peace
    EB

    p.s please disregard my earlier post.

     
  • At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Its hard to come across things, quotes and pictures, people that i think you'd enjoy, things i wish you could see. I am so... I can't... i'm still stuck not really knowing... i thought i saw you 4 times in the past week. Just a passing glance, just a brief second. We miss you down here.

     
  • At 2:35 PM, Blogger Un des oliviers de Flo said…

    Hello! I'm Oly from Belgium!

    Nice blog!

    Come and see mine!

    Thanks

    http://lesoliviersdeflorence.skynetblogs.be

     
  • At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Ali said…

    I want a new post...you haven't told us about your new adventures and we want to hear about them. I miss you Wyatt.

     
  • At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i miss you.

     
  • At 9:01 PM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Wyatt, I know you are still so close to us. I can feel you right above the surface. I know you have so much to tell us, I wish I could hear you. I think you must be really frustrated that we can't hear. I love you, I always will, forever. Love, MOM

     
  • At 7:11 PM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Wyatt, It's been 9 months today that you left us. It seems like yesterday. I miss you so much. I wish we could just talk and I need one of your hugs too. You were home this time last year, and we were really enjoying our time together as a family. We are trying to move forward, I know you want us to, but it is really hard. We are all trying to be brave and make the most of our lives, we know that is what you want for us. It all just seems so pointless now. And it really does seem like who gets to go next. Pick me!

     
  • At 5:15 PM, Blogger Ginger said…

    22 August 2006 - sometimes I try to chat with you on IM, but I'll leave a comment on your blog today. I got a couple new CDs from friends and I want you to listen and see if you like them. I'd like to make some copies and send them over to you.

    I wonder - does all this hurt you as much as it hurts us?

     
  • At 3:36 PM, Blogger kylakaye said…

    9/1/06 - Wyatt remember we were camping this time last year. That was the last time I saw you, hugged you, and told you I love you. It doesn't seem that long ago...because you are always in my dreams and it seems so real. Please never leave me - I couldn't live without your presence. I hope you are happy where you are. I love you forever Wyatt.

     
  • At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Mike said…

    We just got back from Zambia to film the Bad Timing- the first Zambian film about Zambia, directed and Written by a Zambian and acted by Zambians. We did had fun in Zambia while we were there (27 days) and we do miss some of the people. The only I don't like is their concept of time.....everything is 2 hours late...sigh...but here is the movie site...www.filmzambia.com....or the blog www.filmzambia.com/africanvoice

     
  • At 3:20 PM, Blogger kylakaye said…

    Happy Birthday Wy! I love you!!

     
  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Happy Birthday Wyatt! I love you! Wherever you are I know that you can feel my love. I miss you! Love, MOM

     
  • At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Jasmine said…

    Happy Birthday Wyatt!

     
  • At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Bobbie said…

    Happy Birthday Wyatt!!!

     
  • At 1:32 AM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Wyatt, I talked to you on the phone for a whole hour on this day last year. You were so happy and excited to be inducted into the Peace Corps. You said you had no regrets and that you were the happiest you'd ever been. These things give me peace. I will love you forever, and I really believe you are here with us still, we just can't see you or feel you. I send you hugs and kisses. I remember how our last hug in the airport felt. I love you! -MOM

     
  • At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rest in peace. Heaven has a beautiful angel! I stumbled across your blog and loved your observant nature in regards to giving us a realistic view of being in a foreign country. You would have made a great writer! God bless you Mr. Wyatt!

     
  • At 7:35 PM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Oh Wyatt, another holiday without you. They are so hard now. I bought some peeps in memory of you, and I'll admit because I love them too. I miss you so much. It is hard knowing I will always carry this empty feeling in my heart. It is so hard to cope with this hole in my heart sometimes. I hope you have found what you were looking for in the next place. I wish you could just let me know what it is like and how you feel now. Maybe in the end all the pain of this life is worth it. I am just so devastated and confused about the meaning of everything. I wish we could talk like we used to. I love you Wyatt. Remember when we used to always say, "Be Safe". What a joke life is anything but safe. Remember when I really believed that God would keep you safe? I even wrote it in the Bible I gave you for graduation. God will not keep us safe. It isn't the nature of life. I wish I would have realized that. I don't know what it would have changed, and I don't know what it changes now. I try to live like I could die tomorrow but I always get caught up in the pettiness of living. It is so hard. I know you struggled with that too. Did I mention that I miss you? Maybe you could come back for just a minute, ask permission, K?

     
  • At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Kyla said…

    Wyatt, why can't you post just one more time. Why is God so mysterious about this so-called magical place he has taken you? I know you, and I know that you would come back in a second if you could. The thing that I don't understand is that people survive these types of things, why did it have to be you that didn't? Why, Wyatt? I know you can do anything when you put your mind to it, why did you let God talk you into leaving? Nothing can be better than living out your life with your family. We need you. Wyatt - this still doesn't feel real. I look at pictures and think - if I only knew what was going to happen. If I had only knew, Wyatt, I would have tried even harder to be the best sister to you. I miss you so much. My life doesn't feel worth living much since you left. Sometimes I am just living to die. I know you don't want me to feel that way, but I can't help it. I just want to talk to you. I hope you understand why I can't go to the cemetary. Like mom said, you aren't really there. I just wish I knew where you were so I could come see you. I miss you so much Wyatt. You know how much I love you. All I am asking from you is something, I just need something from you. Please do anything you can. Until next time...

     
  • At 4:52 PM, Blogger Ginger said…

    Hey bud, I'm emailing out the invitations to your poker run as we speak. I have to send out each one individually because of some stupid email thing, so it's taking forever, but hey - you'd do it for me! Catch you later...
    5/16/2007

     
  • At 3:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You are so loved and so missed. May you be there in spirit at your poker run this weekend.

     
  • At 5:49 AM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Hey Wyatt,
    The Poker Run went great. I wish you could have been here. I hope all is well where you are. Tonight it was so beautiful outside. A group of 9 of us worked on the Mother's Healing Garden until almost dark. There was a monarch butterfly right before we left. I miss you and I love you. Love, MOM

     
  • At 7:56 PM, Blogger lauren e said…

    thank you... i needed your help and you were right there the whole time. i miss you, more than i know what to do with sometimes. this feels like the only place to tell you that.

    all ways, always... i miss your laughter and voice so much. thanks for sticking around like you said you would.

     
  • At 9:40 PM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Wyatt,
    Two years ago I said goodbye and hugged you for the last time. I'm so sad today. I miss you so much. I wish I could say it is getting easier but it isn't. I just want you here. I feel like a zombie 90 percent of the time. And the rest of the time I feel like I'm trying too hard. And we are all just feeling crazy here without you. And it isn't going to change and it isn't going to get better. And so it goes.

     
  • At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Kyla said…

    Why don't you come visit me, I miss you more than anything in the whole world.

     
  • At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Bobbie said…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY WYATT DEAN AMMON!

     
  • At 5:00 PM, Anonymous Kyla said…

    Wyatt, I hope that was really you on Friday night. I miss you so much and haven't been able to stop thinking about you. I don't want you to be sad. It was a mistake, but it was also your time. I wish I just would have known before and I wouldn't have let you leave. I just want you to know that I will never forget you. You were and always will be my best friend, the best angel I could ever have. I miss you more than anything Wyatt, but you know that. Have fun up there for now, we will all see you again someday.

     
  • At 5:22 AM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Wyatt, I toasted you last night. I can't believe you are gone. I just can't wrap my mind around it even yet. Some of your friends called and wrote. They miss you too. This is just so impossible. I want to hug you and hear your voice say "MOM". I want to talk to you. Two years already, Wyatt, where are you?

     
  • At 4:29 AM, Blogger Ginger said…

    I'd like to bounce some ideas off of you, my brain has been going crazy lately and talking to you would really help...

     
  • At 6:39 PM, Blogger Ginger said…

    3/12/08 - Hi, it's me again. Allison just totally knocked me down to size like you used to do. I miss the ego checks we'd give each other, lord knows I need one on a daily basis.

     
  • At 1:43 AM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Hey Wyatt,
    I just finished judging the essays. I tried to pick the one you would have picked. This should have been you doing it since it was your idea. I listened to your voice. It still seems like are coming back home. Will it ever be real. I wish you were here. I wish I could go back to the old days. I wish, I wish, I wish. I love you Wyatt.

     
  • At 4:12 PM, Blogger Ginger said…

    September 26, 2008

    I'm so scared this morning that I'm going to start to forget you. What if we never get to be together again?

     
  • At 5:16 AM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Nov. 5, 2008
    It seems like it is happening all over again. I feel a tension in every muscle of my body. It feels like I can stop it from happening somehow. I can't describe it right. It feels like you are still here, living in Zambia and it is 2005. I feel frantic to do something to stop the 17th from happening. It is crazy, but it is the way I feel. Three years ago you were still here Wyatt. I can't stand the thought that I will never see you in this life again. It is unbearable. -MOM

     
  • At 6:48 PM, Blogger Ginger Ammon said…

    12/10/08 - Remember when we flew home for Christmas together? I remember how you couldn't see the seat numbers when we walked down the plane aisle cos you were too tall.

    It still doesn't seem like you're really gone. It seems like someday you'll fly home for Christmas with me again.

     
  • At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Kyla said…

    I love you and miss you, please come home. I need you in my life. I need your advice. I need to hear your voice. I need to see your smile. I need to give you a hug. I need to know this has all been a horrible nightmare.

     
  • At 2:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Panasound, good radio

     
  • At 11:11 AM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Just when I thought maybe it was a little better. I'm right back to where it started. I miss you and I will forever.

     
  • At 11:29 PM, Blogger Ginger Ammon said…

    God, five years since you wrote your last post. How has it been five years?

     
  • At 12:06 AM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Just been thinking about you all day today Wyatt. You were in my dream last night too. I listened to your voice on the micro cassette player, and read your Who Am I notebook. I just miss you so much.

     
  • At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Suzanne said…

    I just heard your story on the radio, Wyatt. The world has no rhyme or reason. A tiny instant of time, a shift of weight without a second thought, and suddenly the whole world is changed for everyone you touched in your short life. It will never make sense again. I hope your family can keep together in love for you and in memory of you, and still experience something of what life has to offer. That is what you will want for them I know.

     

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