Monday, September 28, 2009

If you’d like to get an email notification of when I’ve posted to the blog…

Let me know either here (on the blog) or by email: and I’ll add you to the list.

I hate these kinds of things because they seem so grandiose, but I’ve noticed that my mom is telling all her friends when I post… A notification system may be easier, and the Blogger people accommodate this…

I’ve been asked if there is electrical fencing where I am staying. I’ve only seen the electrical fencing in the large cities, like Pretoria. This seems to go along with the fact that there seems to be more money in the larger cities, and therefore the electrical fencing is more affordable.

There is still plenty of fencing here though: lots of barbed and razor wire. In fact, the picture posted is of a seven foot fence made of razor wire enclosing a garden. I’m not sure if the fencing is to keep people out, or animals.

How nice the fencing is indicates the wealth of the homeowner (as with everyone world wide, I suppose.) I’ve seen some very creative ways families have fenced their yards with whatever they could find.

I’ve had a blessedly quiet weekend as all of the students were gone! It was so quiet, in fact, that I was happy to see them return last night! (Sunday).

And my here-to-know rocking immune system has finally succumbed to illness: I’ve had a sore throat, coughing, etc. for a couple of days. I’m glad my illness has come at such an opportune time, as school is currently out of session.

I’m embarrassed that I’ve been so much “me” versus “them” in my description/narrative of my South African experience so far. As I’m the only white American around, it’s easy to think (and report) in terms of me versus them. And of course, one of the points of Peace Corps is to allow people from different cultures to LIVE TOGETHER. So from now on, I’ll be much more (hopefully) careful with how I’m thinking, writing, etc.

Because I do want it to be a “we” experience and not an “I” versus “them” experience.

That being said, I’m having a hard time trying to find a way “in.” When I work with students, even in America, it takes awhile for me to form relationships. I usually don’t bond with my students until at least a few months into each new semester. And of course, it takes a couple of years before you can accumulate several established relationships with students.

So, school is on break and I’m not “working” so it is difficult for form relationships with students right now.

I’m trying to put myself “out there” in the village but here too, it will take time to form relationships. I think I may find a “way in” with the community gardeners and there is a community center. Once again, when school is back in regular session, I’m hoping for better ways to connect with people.

I’m excited about working in the village primary school. The thought of it does intimidate me (I’ve never taught groups of primary-school age children and I’m not trained to) but I think I might have an easier way in with this group of people as my predecessor did not work specifically with this primary school. In other words, I have no big shoes to fill.

I think the principal and staff at the primary school can help me better integrate with the village community as well, because the college, like all other colleges, tends to be “its own little island” and feels quite separate (at least for now) from the rest of the community.

No more flying cockroaches this weekend, but I do seem to be breeding every fly that wants to live on the African continent this season in my bathroom. I have renamed my bathroom the “exorcist bathroom.” I’ve closed the door and hung flypaper, which they craftily avoid at all costs.

That’s all for now. I may be back this afternoon. The previous blog would have been posted last week, but didn’t go through for technical reasons.

Thanks for all the kind words as support, and for new additions: welcome Susan!

I cringe at the comments of “you’re so brave” and “you’re my hero” because I feel like the biggest fraidy cat most of the time and I often want to be anywhere but here. I know these are common feelings for new Peace Corps Volunteers and that they will pass, but it feels pretty icky right now. Comments from you all help immensely, so please keep sharing them.

I miss you all more than you can know, Karen

Ps: as always, Peace Corps is in no way connected to this blog post. All errors, misinterpretations, and misinformation are mine.

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