Thursday, August 22, 2013

Six months left. 19 months in. Apparently there are three stages of peace corps. The first stage, when you see ants on your food, you throw out the food. The second, when you see ants on your food, you get rid of the ants and still eat the food. Third stage, you see ants on your food, you eat the ants and say protein!

The truth is that, at least near the end of pc service, I have stopped sweating the small stuff and starting sweating the big stuff. Taxi takes an hour to fill, people miss meeting, people, nothing phases me anymore. However, what is keeping me up at night is the big stuff. Have I really helped the people in Bundu? Have I done the best I can? What am I going to do with my life? How am I going to get a job in this economy?

Ants in my food just can't compare

Monday, July 8, 2013

After  a truly epic vacation with my family (lions! leopards! Victoria Falls) I headed back to the village. And was greeted by the usual horde of children begging me to pick them up and give them candy. I agreed to the first one and not the second (I seriously can't buy candy anymore without them stealing it, so I've stopped buying candy I like, or just hiding it from the kids) And then I came to realization, that even after a vacation with all the wonders of the first world, I missed this more.

You go through stages in Peace Corps. Now I am at the stage where I truly feel at home here (I keep on saying this, but I really feel more at home everyday) and I'm flying. My projects are starting to go go go, I feel decently accomplished. Some days I never want to leave.

Want to help? check out this link!

However, I have around 7.5 months left. That sounds like a long time, but its close enough so I can see it. The class that came before me is starting to leave, people have started asking me what I'm going to do after peace corps (answer is still forming)...and I'm starting to think about the future.

But right now, my eleven month old cousin smiled at me for the first time! and spent the whole morning smiling at me and playing. She used to cry when she saw me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

There is a point in peace corps where it gets hard to blog, because things that used be weird or strange have become normal life. I have a hard time coming up with stories, because there are usually too many that an outsider would find interesting, yet it is just daily life. There are some things that do jolt me out of my daily life (marching in a pride parade, a traditional ceremony happening at my house that I managed to catch because I went to the bathroom at the right time, having to deal with corporal punishment), and I might write about those later.

Right now, I'm looking forward  to my family's visit (about 20 days!) and post peace corps life. Everything else, is just daily life.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I live in an area called kwandebele. The dominant language is Isndeble as well as the dominant tribe of this area. This is considered the Ndebele homeland. About 1.1 million people speak Isndebele in South Africa, the least spoken of all the South African languages. Most of them live here.

Because of several factors, including that kwandebele is about 45 minutes from Pretoria, there is little development there. There are no big malls or big grocery stores. There are no movie theaters and no big stores. There are two or three shopping centers that do not have much and that is about it. A comparison of several PCVs has shown I have the 2nd worst shopping town, the worst one being the other shopping town in kwandebele which doesn't even have our bank there.

However, since Christmas. I have seen some small changes. When I got back from America, my trip to my site took longer because they were building a tar road connecting my village to the next. They have been working on it for at least five months now, and it probably wont be done before I go, but still, progress. In my shopping town, two stores which had been selling low market goods have been replaced with stores selling much higher market goods, a Mr. Price and a Street Sheet. And on my last trip out, I saw a sign for the construction of a regional mall, in the village about 45 minutes away.

These are all small things, but in the life the life of a peace corps volunteer, it feels good to know that my adopted homeland is growing and dveloping.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Here, its all about the little victories. I haven't been writing recently because it seem that even the little victories I have had are few and far between and the failures numerous and great. This seems to be known in Peace Corps as the "Mid Service Slump". Having finished Mid Service Training a couple weeks ago, me and several volunteers in my class were definitely in it.

In Bundu, , I had to go back to the drawing board. I had an incident at the middle school which made me realize that I am not a teacher and that it doesn't make me happy. Luckily, I am not in the education program :).

But somehow coming up with new things to do doesn't seem as daunting as it did a year ago. Maybe its the fact that Bundu feels like home now or just the fact after a really tough learning curve, I've realized how to be a PCV. More importantly, how I want to be as a PCV. I've had a project idea since the beginning of my service that I finally feel like I've gained enough clout to actually do. I have contacts with the other schools in my area and I'll start reaching out to them. I'll keep on doing my old standbys.

One thing that surprised me was that MST was much less of a brag fest than I expected. People would only tell you about their successes if heavily prodded, most just wanted to relax and have fun. And of my group, SA 25, I am proud. Because the truth is, as a group, we have had a lot of success stories. A lot of growth and a lot of learning. 

So little victories. Right now I'm proud that I have taught my little sister to say please and thank you. Maybe next blog entry I'll have more

Monday, January 28, 2013

One Year

As I sat saturday on the steps of the bank, waiting for Alyssa and Colin to get their money, my only thought was "how the hell am I going to make it through another year?"

Don't worry, this post gets more optimistic. However, my thoughts for the last week have definitely run the gamut.

One year, This time last year I was living in a little rondaval with another trainee, across from a married couple, spending days in long sessions and nights handing out with other trainees. I didn't even know was isndbele was, having no idea about the language that would continue to befuddle me. I remember meeting Sbongile for the first time, not yet knowing I was going to be the one to replace her. She looked impecable in a long flowy skirt and a tanktop while I sweated profusely in my business casual.

It's been a year and I haven't been able to replicate Sbongile's style or sense of calm or ease. However, I have made my own style in bundu, my sweaty, goofy, terrible isndebele, goofing with kids style. Bundu is my home. I teach, I run my gogo's group, I do random projects. I help in the garden. I talk. I have coffee. I play with the kids. I try to find new stuff to do.

Its pleasant and nice and fun and feels like life. I'm not the best or most hardworking peace corps volunteer, but I've done a bit. All but two of the students in my grade 9 english class passed. My gogo's are trying to get their group registered as an NPO. We are working on the IGA stuff. I'm teaching life orientation this term. My boyfriend is coming to visit in 17 days.

I'll make it through this year like I did the last. One day at a time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

After about a month of leave, I am finally home in Bundu. Will describe the leave by all the different types

Administrative- Took the GRE. Did pretty decently. Looking into getting my master's of public affairs/policy or urban planning. Spent my downtime in Pretoria hanging out with friends who were passing through. Saw many of my friends who started PCSA a year ahead of me go through their Close of Service Conference. Some have left already. That's going to be me in a year...eish

Holiday- Met up with my friend Emily and took a 12 hour bus ride to our friend Dan's house outside Richard's Bay. It was wonderful, we went to St. Lucia to see turtles (saw one lay a hundred or so eggs), went to the beach everyday, saw the hobbit, met many of Dan's friends and coworkers and had a ton of really wonderful meals with wonderful company. The last day I boarded the plane and headed home

Annual- America. What can I say. I spent time with my family, friends and boyfriend, ate delicious food, explored wonderful places, enjoyed being with the people I loved.
I felt a little out of sorts in America. I realize that in South Africa I always have a purpose to my life there. In america, I felt somewhat lost. It was a vacation, but I missed knowing what I was there to do. It reaffirmed my decision to stay in Africa...I just wanted to bring some people back with me. Thankfully my family is visiting in June and my boyfriend even sooner so I'll be able to see as many people as I can.

When I got back, I spent some days in Pretoria, getting over jetlag and clearing up some medical issues (Mango Schisto Acid Reflux?) I still felt a little out of sorts until I got to Bundu on Sunday, when as soon as I saw my village over the hill, I felt like I had come home.

In about ten days I'll hit my year mark, which will be followed in a month by the halfway mark and the less than a year mark. Makes me contemplative, wondering what I have done this last year and what will I do after Peace Corps. Whatever happens, I'll try to enjoy the ride