Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This is Africa.

I've been here for almost three weeks and there is so much to catch everyone up on!

The first week of training took place entirely at a teachers' college in the village of Marapyane, Mpumalanga province. After moving out of the dorms at the college, I moved in with a host family in the nearby village of Sehokho and commute to the college. It's very rural, there are lots of cows, goats, chickens and donkeys wandering around. My host family is wonderful. I have a host granny (gogo), mother, and three siblings. Most of them speak English very well, and they are great resources for my language learning. My group of trainees (SA20) is learning Afrikaans and Setswana. You can probably Youtube the soap opera Generations to get an idea of what Setswana sounds like if you're interested.

Training is intense. It usually lasts between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. with a break for lunch, at least 5 days a week. We often have sessions on Saturdays as well. This time is split into sessions on language, culture and education training. We also have days during which we make visits to local schools. I'm working with Sehokho Primary School which happens to be attended by my two youngest host siblings.

My first impressions of the Peace Corps and South Africa in general are positive, but my life is very different here. The motto of PCSA seems to be "Hurry up and wait." I feel like I'm always busy, but then there are moments when I have no idea what to do with myself, like when I'm waiting for a ride that should have come 20 minutes ago. Everything operates on "Africa time" so nothing runs on time, ever. It's frustrating, but I'm adjusting to the concept. I'm also in bed every night by 9 o'clock at the very latest. I'm usually asleep by then. It's a far cry from the good days of UAlbany where 5 hours of sleep was considered a fair amount. In visual terms, the area I'm currently living in is amazing. The sunsets are incredible, the stars are unbelievable and the flora is awesome, if extremely different from upstate New York. I have yet to see any typically "African" wildlife though. There are no lions hanging around the front yard every morning, just roosters. I will try to post some pictures later on. Since I'm aware of exactly what you really want to know, yes, I pee in a pit and bathe in a bucket and, no, I never really feel clean. I live covered by a light film of soap. If anyone comes to visit, please book a hotel with running water. I would love a nice shower.

My updates to this blog are likely to be sporadic. The internet is hard to access here, but I will do my best to keep everyone informed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow it sounds like you are really having an amazing experience! I can't believe you are actually peeing in a ditch and bathing in a bucket (although I did predict the bucket, at least you don't have to pee in that!) The landscape sounds amazing I hope you can post pictures soon (although you might have already, I haven't checked)! Keep us updated!