Weeks 1 and 2 at Permanent Site

On Wednesday, I went into the school for a little bit before the deputy principal and HOD took me to meet the principal of the high school, the CEO of the local hospital, and the equivalent of our superintendent. We picked up one of the School Governing Board (SGB) members at the hospital and she talked to me for a little bit back at my school before I worked with the books. I can’t remember if I wrote about this last time or not, but the volunteer I replaced got a TON of books donated to start a library. Like 1,840 of them. So I spent a lot of time this week opening the boxes and sorting them by type. On Wednesday some learners stayed after school and helped me with the sorting, then I went home and a couple of different learners and other kids came over. I read part of the Enormous Crocodile to them because they asked me to read to them, but they weren’t behaving very well so I stopped.

On Thursday, my principal took me to meet the station commander at the closest police station then went to meet the chief! He was a very nice very old man. A lot of his council and some committee members came to greet me, which was both intimidating and touching. I went home for lunch when we returned then went back to the school and worked on the books for a while.

On Friday, I went into the school and mostly worked on the books all day, sorting and entering them into an excel spreadsheet. I got about 200 entered. I was asked to “teach” a class (read to them) because their teacher was proctoring for another grade’s big end of year exam. I read them “If You Give A Moose A Muffin” then gave them a writing prompt for them to write a few sentences about their family. I worked on library stuff some more then “knocked off” early to go meet the women at a local preschool to discuss continuing their computer lessons and to pick up my little brother. I dropped him off at our other brother’s car wash then went home to relax and take a shower before I went to sleep.

On Saturday, I went to my first South African funeral. There was a whole choir of ZCC women singing at the house of the man who had died. The funeral train made its way to the cemetery, where someone climbed down into the empty grave to spread a straw mat, then the coffin was lowered, then the men filled all the dirt back in. A grandmother then put some type of traditional bowl with antiseptic wash in it at the head of the grave along with flowers, a cup and saucer, and another bowl. After the funeral, I went into town to meet some friends and do some shopping. I had delicious pizza for lunch! The taxi ride home took FOREVER and was pretty scary considering I still sort of have whiplash from our driver slamming on the brakes.

On Sunday, I woke up and did my laundry by hand before just kind of hanging out for the rest of the day. My 4 year old brother tried to help when I was rinsing my clothes in the basin, which was adorable but really didn’t work that well. I baked bread for my family here and spoke to my parents in America as I do every Sunday at 8PM 🙂 It also FINALLY rained so I stood outside in it for a few minutes.

On Monday, I had an AWFUL migraine, so I didn’t go to school and just hung out around my house and slept most of the day.

On Tuesday, I went to school for a couple hours and got a lot of work on the library books done before I left for the Peace Corps principals’ workshop outside of Polokwane. After checking in at the lodge, I had the wonderful treat of eating McDonald’s before we started our sessions. After our sessions, I got to go swimming in the pool!!!!! Then we ate dinner and a bunch of us sat around using the free Wi-Fi. I even got decent enough service to video Skype with my friend in Kenya!!

On Wednesday, we had a few different sessions. We have been urged by Peace Corps to blog with caution, so I won’t get into that on here. When we finished, I got to go to Mall of the North with a few people. It was like a very very nice American mall. It was emotionally difficult to spend a few hours in first world territory then return to my village. One great thing that came out of the conference was that I got much closer with the teacher who attended with me. She shares a lot of the same views I have about corporal punishment and sexual abuse.

On Thursday, I arrived at school to find that all of my boxes of books had been moved around and the piles sorted by level that had already been entered in the spreadsheet had been thrown on top of and in other boxes. I couldn’t even do anything about it because there was a workshop going on in that room all day. The grade 7s didn’t have a teacher with them, so I went in and read a Berenstein Bears book to them before hanging out in the 6th grade class to give them a writing prompt and talk about listening. I went back in with the grade 7 learners because they were unsupervised and ended up teaching about oppression, critical thinking, and how critical thinking can be a tool to prevent and stop oppression. We also had a very enlightening crosscultural conversation. I stayed at school for a while after the learners left to mark the papers I had the 6th grade write, then went home and did more marking before going over to my friend’s house to help bake what were essentially sweet biscuits. When I got home, I found out about JK Rowling’s new movie series!!!!

On Friday, I went to school where we didn’t really do much of anything. I made a copy of three of my IDs and printed my resume because the secretary asked me to bring her my information so she could make me a file. My learners asked me on Thursday to wear my traditional dress, so I did and they LOVED that. I read a couple of books (in Sepedi) to a first grade class and talked to some of the teachers before we knocked off really early and I caught a ride into town with some of the teachers. Keep in mind that I wore traditional dress on Friday, so everyone in town was very very interested in me. I was greeted by so many people and several women even asked if they could take my picture. I had pizza for lunch before just kind of walking around town looking at different shops and buying a few things. When I walked out of one of the grocery stores, a gogo (grandmother) asked me to come talk to her and I stood there doing so for a few minutes before she grabbed my hand and dragged me into the liquor store where her son was working and introduced me. I was very glad all day that I had spent $8.00 on Ebay for a fake wedding ring and even more glad that my LCF taught me how to say “I’m married” “No thank you” and “I don’t want that” in Sepedi during Pre-Service Training. As per usual, I waited a long time for my taxi to fill up to go home. I was the very first person on the taxi and the last person off. When I got home, I took a 2.5 hour nap before going back to my friend’s house to see if she still needed help baking for the wedding we would attend on Saturday. She had already finished, so I FINALLY finished unpacking then watched HP1 before falling asleep.

On Saturday, I slept in! I woke up around 11:30 then left with my host mom to go to my niece’s/sister’s second birthday. We stopped several places along the way, mostly looking for green beans. The party was much farther from home than I realized and was therefore very far from the wedding I was supposed to attend, but it was nice to meet more family members and the kids seemed to really enjoy it. We left from there and stopped by the wedding reception for a little bit before returning home, where I cooked and ate dinner then watched movies.

On Sunday, I woke up, did my laundry, then walked down to my brother’s carwash to hang out with my twin 21 year old brothers for a while. I went back home and made chocolate chip cookies, then walked around for a while before my 23 year old brother surprised us all by coming home two days early. My four year old brother (actually my nephew) stayed with his sister and mother after the party, so my house seemed very quiet even though there were so many people. Another PCV arrived last night. He is staying with my family this week for a workshop that a local nonprofit is doing.

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