School, the begining
Trip Start Jun 08, 2011
14Trip End Ongoing
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This has been a really hard couple of weeks. As I mentioned in the last blog, school started a few weeks ago and I have been having a really hard time adjusting to that. Swazi schools function very differently from American schools and it is hard for me to accept some of the differences. For example, schools are just less organized and young students are allowed to run around without supervision. There is nothing really wrong with that in this context, it is just quite shocking to my American brain.
The real issue, however, is that my role in the school is extremely ambiguous
The situation at school has had me in a bad mood all week and the fact that I’ve had a cold since the 16th hasn’t helped at all. Then, on Thursday, one of the other volunteers was asked to leave the Peace Corps for what seemed to me to be a pretty minor infraction. She did break a policy and the letter of the law says that she should be sent home but this was a serious departure from the way the policy had been enforced in the past. At the very least it was shocking, and the response felt quite disproportionate to the infraction. The very next day we found out that another volunteer had elected to leave the Peace Corps due to a family emergency. This was significantly less shocking, and probably a good decision on his part but it was still very sad to lose another friend and co-worker in so short a time
Life’s not all bad though, I really love being on my homestead. I was expecting to struggle with this more than anything but it has, without a doubt, been the best part of the Peace Corps for me. My host family couldn’t be better suited for me and now I am starting to make friends and get truly comfortable.
I am also starting some little projects right here on my homestead. Today I finished getting my garden ready for planting. Gogo (grandmother- and the head of the household) gave me some space in her fenced off garden and I have made 6 raised beds out of what was basically a field. It continues to amuse my family to no end that I know how to use a hoe and don’t give up and get tired after 15 minutes. I’m just smashing preconceptions about Americans all over the place! I am very excited to start planting next week. If you are so inclined I would really love to have some seeds so that I can plant things that I can’t find here. Mint, lavender, zucchini, kale, brussel sprouts, or any kind of berries would be amazing but anything at all would be great. I have plenty of space for planting and since there are 62 people in my host family and 17 kidsT I can always find a use for some extra veggies.
Another triumph of the day was that some of the younger kids are starting to pick up some English! I have all of them saying bye-bye and uh oh, which is incredibly cute. Today I got the 3 year-old girl to say "good job!" and something else which I have momentarily forgotten. I am hoping that by the time I leave all of the little ones will have learned a lot of English. Just hearing me speak on a daily basis should really take them a long way at this stage in their development. Then, this evening I taught the older kids to play monkey in the middle which we played until Mkhulu (grandfather) told us to stop so that we wouldn’t break the window.
All in all its been a pretty good day. Tomorrow I am back at school and I am hoping that it goes more smoothly, if only because I have more realistic expectations this time around. Wish me luck!