So hopefully most of you received my last email. I had the liberty of spelling out my contact information more explicitly and free of the dangers of these Somali-like waters that Peace Corps likes to call the world wide web.
Where was I? O ya, South Africa. Unlike some of my other adventures where I tend to wake up after every sleep and expect to see the Pacific out of my window, promptly followed by a few seconds of confusion and fear, here I haven’t really been that shocked to realize that I am 13,000 miles away from In-n-out and Zuma Beach. I can’t say whether it’s that my acclimatization to being here or just that everything has been moving so fast since training ended a few days ago and I have finally arrived to site as an official Peace Corps Volunteer.
I never thought that reaching the title of PCV would be something that I would celebrate, but after the frustration of being in international purgatory for the last two months and finding myself at the butt end of endless condescending remarks by smug ‘veteran’ PCVs, it’s a welcomed transition.
So I guess I should probably speak a little about my new home. I have spoken briefly about the village where I will spend my next two years and the organization, Pholoshong HBC, with whom I will be working. Now that I have arrived to find that I was mistaken to think that my new efficiency (ha!, I use the word with all literary freedom possible) would be ready for me to move into, I have spent the last few nights with my host family who will be living in the main house next to mine. Although this gogo (grandmother) and her young children and so unbelievably sweet, it has become somewhat aggravating to have to rely on 6-year-olds to bring you meals and water every time you want to bathe. Although many men here have no problem being served without end, I prefer to retain some vestige of personal autonomy and like to take care of myself and my living quarters. So there has been somewhat of a tug-of-war between being annoying to my supervisor in helping with the necessary logistics of moving-in and desperately wanting my own space. I am currently writing for one of the first times alone for more than two months and it feels like the tide is finally moving back out and allowing me breathe.
Since I am someone who needs to have their personal life organized before I can be at all effective in my work, I now feel like I can start thinking about my plan of attack for the next few weeks. It seems like it’s gong to be easy to get tied up with different types of work here. With my supervisor moving at the speed of light and me struggling to keep up under an unforgiving southern African sun, I have been introduced and made tentative plans to work with several parties, within and beyond Pholoshong. It is going to be a challenge to decide whether to begin working on programs and trainings early on or whether I should probably be spending this time settling in and learning from an observer’s perspective. On the one hand I have been warned not to spread myself too thin and learn before jumping in headfirst, but on the other hand it is impossible to ignore that there are serious gaps within the organization and in regards to the organization’s response to the community’s needs. All of this despite the fact that Pholoshong is one of the better-developed orgs in the district.
Anyways, with any remnants of a social life being put on hold for the next three months while us newly initiated PCVs enjoy ‘lock-down’ and the fact that my life outside the house ends when the sun sets because of security reasons, it seems like I will have a lot of time to explore these issues and continue writing these endless blogs.
O ya, I also need to start posting some pictures of my village. I’ll get those on this week. Until next time…