Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ndebele artist and In-service training

We spent the last weeks of January at a Peace Corps training. We trained at a different site, at a different teacher's college, located on the Limpopo/Mpumalanga border. (For security reasons, I'm not at liberty to say exactly where.)

The highlight for me was passing my Setswana language proficiency test. YAY! What a relief! Learning a new language is extremely difficult for me and I've been working very hard trying to learn the language, so I'm glad my hard work has paid off. I've actually advanced a whole level. I initially tested at "novice high" and tested this time at "intermediate high." (The Peace Corps needs us to test at least to the "intermediate low" level to "pass.")

Another bright point was a brief visit to my original host family. Our visit was on a Sunday, just an hour after my language test. As I was extremely focused on my language exam, I didn't think to prepare for a visit with my host family. Long story short: I forgot to take my camera, so I have no pictures of the visit. Drat!

Although we were advised the night before to call our host families to alert them to our visit, I did not. I was worried they would slaughter a cow and invite the whole village. So I showed up on their doorstep completely unannounced (which I'm told is perfectly acceptable in South African culture).

The first thing my host family said to me was, "Why didn't you call?" and "Where is your shawl?" :-)

When I stayed with my host family, it was during the winter months and I was always appropriately covered because, well, it was cold. We arrived this time in the summer months, and I had on a sleeveless blouse. I had forgotten that my host family acknowledges conservative values for women (head covered, shoulders covered, and sitting at a 90-degree angle on the floor with legs straight out). I asked to borrow a shawl. :-)

They were thrilled to see me, asked if I had brought bread (I had not), fed me, and made a special trip to the shop to buy a cold drink. As was my former habit when formally eating with them, I returned the chicken bones to the fridge to keep for the cat to eat later. There was NOTHING in their refrigerator. And a quick glance around told me that they had nothing to eat. They had probably spent their last ten rand for the cold drink.

After a very brief visit, two hours perhaps, I was off again, perhaps never to see them again. (I don't know if I will ever again return to the area.) I left them a bit of my "trip money" as a parting gift.  I hope it helped.

And yet another highlight was a couple of shopping trips to this wonderful Ndebele woman selling her bead craft. Isn't she wonderful?

I enjoyed the training this time around, perhaps because the worry of the language test was behind me. The ever-creative and resourceful volunteers hosted several fun events, including a prom (yes, a prom) and a talent show. They were great fun, and again, alas, I forgot my camera.

If you'd like to see more photos of our training trip, photos of both the site, the lovely trees and flowers, and my fellow volunteers, go to the following links.  (You need not be a Facebook member to see the photos.)



Soon, Karen

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures of the woman with her crafts. Sad about never seeing your host family again and them not having any food, I know the money you left them will help.