Today was a fun day, which included a visit to the University of Zambia (UNZA) campus and meeting with the e-mail buddies and an afternoon at Special Hope Network (SHN) – my most inspirational organization!

It was nice that we did not have a very early start – 8:45am – whew! :). We got to campus super fast – no traffic and Pearson dropped us off, but this time, unlike last year, we saw nobody waiting for us!

But they did show up shortly! They took us up to the 5th floor conference room and as we were waiting for the key I met three students: Nawa, Boaz and Lwimba who is Deaf and uses sign language

This time Muchanga had organized things differently for us! The Assistant Dean Joseph Mandiata and two other faculty members from the Department of Special Education (Simon Kaoma who said he teaches Audiology and ASL, and Mr.Kenneth who said he is representing Beatrice Matafwali) were there. They spoke briefly and introduced themselves as did all of us. Then Zaza who is the President of the Special Education Student Association gave a formal prepared speech. After some question and answer and exchange of information we finally walked with the students across campus.


Two students (Jessica and Katie) had no buddies as they did not come 😦


They showed us their assessment center, demo classroom as well as resource center for students with disabilities. While students were visiting these rooms a student (M) stopped to ask us some questions. Turns out she has a scholarship to go to the US (NYC) for a week in July. She seemed very timid and was asking how to get a passport! I really did not know how to help her. She also said that the trip conflicted with one of her exams – but fortunately she spoke to the Dean and Assistant Dean right there (as they were chatting with us) and was told to send in a written request to take the exam another date. And finally, we learned that she also has a hearing loss!!! So I asked her to come to Beit Cure on Thursday and hope we are able to see her! AND fit her with a HA if it is appropriate….

Then on to their “resource room” for UNZA students with disabilities and there I met the sweetest nun Sr. Euphrasia. She is finishing her Masters in Special Ed focusing on visual impairments and said she just defended her dissertation last week and is awaiting the verdict. She reminded me of India a lot because of her name (I had a Sr. Euphrasia in school as a child) and because she is a Teresian nun (my Mom taught at Teresian Convent for several years before she retired!)

Then the students took us on a walk across campus and too us through their library and it was interesting to see the similarities –

o   Large areas where students were sitting and studying

o   Books on the shelves

  • But also the differences

o   They still use a card catalog

o   They have no e-journals

o   They cannot check books out for too long (varies from 1 – 2 weeks depending on the type of book)

o   All bags have to be left outside for fear of theft of books in student book bags!

From there we walked to the lake on campus which was very pretty and took pictures. The students gave their buddies the Purdue shirts we had brought them and they put them on and we took more pictures. 


Back on the bus by 12:25 and we got to SHN very soon! So we parked nearby until we finished lunch on the bus and then went in their new Resource Center

Set up for hearing screenings and though they said we only had to screen 6 kids, we ended up screening 18 people including staff and kids including the three Nelson kids Sam, Molly and Maggy.

So while 8 students were screening, the other 4 and Christi did circle time and singing with the SHN kids and staff – I always miss the fun times! Staff meeting next and we all crowded into the room to sit in a circle on the floor including the Nelson kids
The Zambian staff had a LOT of questions about the ears starting with

o   Tell us about the ear – which I started off in as simple words as I could

o   A lot of questions about wax which Breanne and Andrea answered 

o   About noise induced hearing loss which it was nice that Kaitlyn was able to give a response

o   About pus

o   About bugs in the ear!!!

  • I learned that Diana and Lois (SHN staff) are TWINS! And they both had funny stories:
    • Diana fell asleep while eating and had ants in her ear and she could feel them so she washed them out with water
    • Lois said she had a relative who got a cockroach in the ear and pulled it out but the head stayed in the ear!!!
    • We all had a good laugh listening to these stories!
    • And also Goodson who said that he “breathes” with his ears and air comes out of his ears (and would blow the roach out!) 
    • It was hilarious!!!!!!
  • More group photos and then we left at about 3:30 and decided to go to the Lusaka National Museum


I remember fondly how last year Emmie came with us to the museum and explained things to us about village life….

It was 4pm and the museum normally closes at 4:30 but they said they would keep it open until 5pm for us! AND he reduced the rate from 25 to 15 kwacha for the students (and Pearson came in free)

o   Interesting and reminds me of India and how the rules can be easily changed or bent

We did have Pearson come in the museum, but then a guide appeared, named Enox (sp?). He was quite serious about his job and took the time to explain things to us in detail. We enjoyed a brief tour of the upstairs of the museum with the guide explaining about “Kabwe man” which is the ancient skull found in Zambia, the history of Zambia from the time of the bushmen, as well as the colonization and more recently, independent Zambia. The most interesting was an exhibit that was covered in black with a sign that it may be disturbing

o   It was about the Maillon brothers (3 of them) who apparently murdered 11 people in the bush but were recently (last year) apprehended and killed

o   I think it was so sensational because murder is not common in Zambia at all! So they had every possible artifact found with these brothers on display including weapons as well as cups and plates etc.

Downstairs was a special display all about Kenneth Kaunda who was the first president of Zambia from 1964 – 1991, because he turned 90 a few weeks ago. 

The students chose to go directly to dinner again instead of returning to the lodge first, so we went to the Arcades again in case anyone wanted to get cash for the weekend trip to Livingstone. Christi and I tried a restaurant called Mike’s Kitchen and it was very nice – good service and food. We also went to the grocery store and got bottled water for our weekend trip. We were to meet at the bus at 7:30pm and for the first time during this program, Christi and I were the first at the bus because we were done early! 
Back to the lodge, followed by the usual pow-wow in Christi’s room with the only change being that we did not need to pack lunches for tomorrow because the students had decided to be adventurous and stop along the way to eat lunch.

The students discussed a variety of things again today:

How hearing loss is being caused by quinine which is used to treat malaria – we met 2 UNZA students with this story 😦
Students commented on how the UNZA campus looked really similar to Purdue! And had the same campus feel! The study spaces were like in the libraries at Purdue. They discussed how we take a lot for granted the US: we have so many libraries and books! We are so used to getting what we want online. 

They talked about dorm rooms: there is not enough space in the dorms to sleep and some students sleep in a friends room. But apparently, that is a problem at Purdue also: they sometimes don’t have enough spaces at Purdue also – They have used garages, bunk beds and closets for student rooms!

They talked about college traditions: there is a graduation square and you are not considered graduated until you take a picture with the statue there!

Kaitlyn’s buddy has a visual impairment, but rather than feeling stigmatized he said he talks with his friends and jokes about it and has nothing to hide! What a great guy!

They talked about the Special Education curriculum:
They were surprised that all the students have to learn to read and write Braille and discussed how the students have to learn about ALL kinds of disabilities.

They talked about the Demo classroom a UNZA:
The class had kids from ages 5-15 years with a variety of severity of disability. Again similarities wet noted as this reminded one student of a camp she worked where there was a large variety of ages from 8-19 years. 

They talked again about “being the minority” and misconceptions about the US that Zambians have just as we have misconceptions about Africa (Zambia). Felt really bad looking around in the library because they were all staring at us.

They talked about gender roles:

One student who is married said that as soon as she said she was married they ask about children and are surprised when she said they were both students and not planning on having kids now. Also one Zambian student was surprised that I was their professor and said there are very few female professors here

They discussed clothing: the UNZA students were all dressed up but said they were not normally, only for meetings. But all students we saw were fairly dressed up. Their version of “casual” dress is different. Also that the UNZA students were very formal with the Dean present and with prepared speeches. 

 They discussed  SHN:

All the questions and curiosity about ear wax were interesting. They saw their first adult (staff member) who was afraid to have the test done! They were amazed to see how a child was tested with the help of her Dad by picking up on her facial expressions as responses. Saw how really flexible you have to be!
And the Museum:
It was difficult to see slavery from their perspective. “We have read it in school, but glossed over it – made it seem positive.”







2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sibks
    Jun 07, 2014 @ 23:16:23

    Lata, these posts are so interesting and inspiring and enlightening…ever think about a book? all the best!


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