Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Visit Home. Please read to the end to see how you can help!

It's been a LOOOONNNGGG time since I have written and I apologize. Time has been a very fickle thing lately.

April to May: Mom, Hannah and Bobbo came to visit. Then, just as I was re-acclimating to being at site, at the end of May, Mia’s family came for a visit and I got to spend some time with them. Both visits were so much fun, but it was a lot of anticipation and then it felt like it was over so quickly.  Shortly after Mia’s family headed out of Swaziland it was my birthday. Not something I am great at celebrating, but we did it anyway. We went to Ngwempisi Gorge (the same place that we went for Christmas last year). It was a great time.  We ate good food, drank good drinks, and hiked and adventured a lot. We even slept under the stars for a few hours one night, despite the chilly breeze that we got being on top of our rock house. The next weekend we celebrated Christmas in June, because most volunteers like to travel during actual Christmas, so we celebrate together in June. This celebration was another fantastic time with most people getting dressed up, eating a ton, swing dancing, and head stand competitions. Today, I am at the office while Make’s cats are at the vet getting fixed.  Next week is the 4th of July, and I am coming into town a day early to help prepare. Wow, talk about staying busy, and all of that is just the weekend volunteer fun stuff, I am still working at both the Primary and High School in my community during the week.  But, after the fourth there isn’t really anything going on to mark the passage of time. I am sure that as soon as August rolls around I will have no idea what happened to the time. For now though, time seems to be stalling.

At site everything is going well. The cats are all going to be taken care of, happy and healthy soon enough. Make is doing great and really exploring with her cooking and baking.  I am so proud of her. We went from I can’t do it, you do it; to me coming home and asking Make if I smelled muffins, and her telling me that she tried something new with lemons today. Derek aka Mfanafuti, my youngest host brother is home from University for the summer. He is thinking about staying home, continuing with school part time, and just commuting. He is really an incredible guy. He collects all of the school aged kids in the neighborhood around 3:30pm every weekday to tutor them and help with any homework they might have. He does this all on his own, no one asked him to, he just likes to work with kids and to stay busy.

As far as work and school goes, well, that’s where things are beginning to be a bummer. There have been some struggles between the government and the teacher’s union. There have been strikes going on all over the country for two weeks now, and this week protests have started breaking out at schools around the country. If schools are still operating the protests are usually held at those schools to disrupt learning. On Monday during my English club there was a protest at my school. I had stopped by in the morning just to feel out what was going on with my teachers. They said that they were not teaching.  They were doing the sit-in version of the strike where they come to school and sometimes sit in their classrooms but don’t teach. Anyway they said that it should be no problem for me to come for English club that afternoon because it would be after school and the students would be staying all day anyway. So I went home and came back for the club. We were going to review what we had done last week, parts of speech, then try to identify as many parts of speech that we could in the book Corduroy  (I think that is what it is called), and who ever could identify the most would get a pencil as a prize. Well, we had just finished the review and the preliminary reading of the story when I had let the kids look at the book together to identify the words. I stepped outside to get a broom and there was a huge group of people gathered at the gates to the school. They were carrying little trees and chanting, and some were running all through the school checking in classrooms. So, I went back to the classroom and we all scurried out the back way toward home. It was a little scary and as a matter of safety I haven’t been to school since; which is a bummer because that is where the majority of my work takes place. I even began to work with the high school Literature teacher, Mrs. Nkambule, and Mrs. Mabuza to start an English club, but we haven’t got anything off the ground. Basically because there hasn’t been school for a little more than two weeks, at least not consistently. These teachers are great. It is so nice to see teachers who care about the student’s learning, and when I sit in on Mrs. Nkambule’s Lit classes it is inspiring to see her students so engaged and interested in what she and their peers have to say.

So, now you can see how time seems to have stopped or at least slowed down significantly. There are no big volunteer events coming up between the 4th and the end of August and my work at site is up and down at best.

Anyhow, I am really looking forward to my visit home. Here is the tentative itinerary:

I will get into Cincinnati August 23rd. I plan to spend a couple of nights in Oxford and then head to Columbus. After about 4 nights in Columbus I will be going to Cleveland. On Sunday, September 2nd I will head back to Oxford for that whole week. I fly back to Johannesburg on Saturday, September 8th.

Now, here is where some of you can help me out. Peace Corps has 3 main goals:

1.     Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2.     Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3.     Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

I can earn up to 3 vacation days back if I give some presentations directed toward goal number 3. I am supposed to ‘educate Americans about the people and culture of Swaziland’. This can be in a classroom setting, a youth group, a community meeting, or really any group of people that I can talk to about, answer questions about, or show pictures of Swaziland. To get my days I have to have some sort of official documentation saying that I did this, either a letter inviting me to speak or a thank you letter for speaking. Are any of you interested in having me come educate you or a group you are involved with about Swaziland? Do you know anyone who might be interested in hearing about another country and culture? Please feel free to email me, facebook message me, leave me a message on the blog, or call me.

Thank you all so much for your continued support.  That really means a lot to me.

I love you, miss you, and will see you soon!!