By Jenna Miller
in Lusaka, Zambia
The United States might be referred to as a “super power,” but if you want to compare individuals, Zambians are the real super powers. There is no start or end to my bewilderment of the Zambian people. Not only have I found them to be the most sincere and happiest people I’ve ever met.
On Being Sincere
The very first thing I noticed about the people I’ve met is their sincerity when they say hello. Back in
the U.S., strangers can pass by and absent-mindedly say hello, but they don’t really take notice of the other person. In Zambia people actually look at you, smile, and say hello as if you’re an old friend. They are genuinely happy to see you and want to talk and have a conversation. I’ve found the Zambian people to also be extremely patient with everything. Although sometimes it may be frustrating as an American when they don’t “rush” to do certain things, I truly admire how at ease the
y are with everything. I think as Americans we find ourselves always in a hurry to get somewhere or rushing to finish something. We often forget to take the time to appreciate life and relax.
On Working Hard
Despite doing most things at their leisure, Zambians are one of the hardest working people inside and out. No matter the type of job, Zambians work from the time they get up to the time they go to bed – and they do it with a smile on their face. They don’t complain abo
ut having to go to work in the morning or fixing dinner at night. The people I’ve worked with in my internship, for example, are excited to see everyone at the office in the morning, about the stories they’ll cover, and about going home at the end of the day to see their “babies.” The reason they are able to maintain this sort of perpetual enthusiasm…because they take the time to do things. They take time throughout the day to rest and relax. They don’t try to cram all of their work into a few hours.
On Living the Good Life
At the same time Zambians have these admirable qualities, many are living in conditions that most Americans can’t fathom. Whole families squeeze everything they have into one-room houses. College students live eight to a dorm room. Even more privileged Zambians still live in smaller quarters than most “poor” Americans. But in a sense, I think that’s what makes the people of Lusaka so sincere. They are truly grateful for everything they have and don’t take anything for granted. And they are proud of what they have and what they do. They want to show you how good this life is.
There are not enough words I could write that could describe the people of Zambia. What I can say is that meeting these people has left me with more than just souvenirs to take back to the United States. Driving through the city and meeting these people has made me appreciate the life I have so much more. Zambia has given mea new sense of happiness, sincerity, and enthusiasm for my life.Jenna Miller is one of 18 students from Ohio University, studying abroad in Zambia over winter intercession about media, society, and governance, through the Institute for International Journalism.