Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Just What I Needed

Hey Everyone!

Long time no update. I started having a hard time deciding what is and is not appropriate to post on a blog, but also the past couple months have really gone by fast! Anyway, I will try to get back on track and update more often. Watch out for a bunch of stuff I wrote a while ago in the next few days. In not-so-recent news, I have officially been in this country for a year! Well, now closer to 14 months :) How time flies! Some days it feels like yesterday I was at home, and others it seems like I’ve been in Nam for ages. This year has been a roller coaster, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve gotten to have so many incredible experiences, face unbelievable challenges, gain some lifelong friends, and I know I've changed a bit as well. One more year to go! Ok, backtracking to August nownow:

Exam season is not my favorite time of the year, mostly because of the massive amount of time that gets wasted as the kids sit in their register classes all day, not doing any actual studying and not getting any lessons. Because I had my act together this term, I was completely done with all my marks a week and a half before the term officially ended. In addition to helping other teachers finish up with their marks, I also experienced one of the proudest moments ever. I spent a whole two days in the computer lab, trying to figure out the issues that were preventing 13 of the 20 computers from turning on. A LOT of cords, lots of things not hooked to each other, power outlets being weird, etc. But I didn’t lose hope and now ALL of the computers turn on, and only two have to be rebooted! Considering my many previous struggles with technology, I was so psyched to have figured this IT dilemma out! The next mission on this front: get other teachers to volunteer their time so the learners all get computer classes.

Anyway, one of the bigger struggles I’ve had in Peace Corps has been integrating. A really big reason for this is that I live extremely far away from my colleagues. My house is literally as far as you can get on the opposite side of town, a solid 40 minute walk going through town and then past town some. During this last week, though, I was SO excited because some of my colleagues included me in their post-work hangouts. After hanging out the night before, two colleagues and I went for a drink after we were finished at the school, and after an hour or so another two colleagues showed up. We were having a grand time, and after about another hour these two white men from South Africa came over and started talking to us. We were hesitant at first, but then they kept talking so naturally we merged tables and became fast friends. Now side note, a few weeks ago the teachers started catching on that I understood what they were saying in Afrikaans. In reality, I’d say I probably understand between 60-70 percent of what happens in conversations, which is generally enough to get at least the jist of what’s going on. I cannot, however, properly speak Afrikaans [the order words are put in doesn’t make sense!], so I always respond in English. Anyway, this realization prompted the teachers to only speak Afrikaans now, because they assumed I understood everything they were saying but was just too shy to speak it. Back to the bar, we are now sitting at the table with the South Africans, and one of them [who looks almost exactly like Jay from Modern Family] is saying that I don’t understand anything. My colleagues begin strongly defending me just as everyone’s Afrikaans is getting faster and faster.  I realize that drinking is actually not helping my language abilities in the slightest, and I’m understanding less and less of what’s going on. My colleague sitting next to me suddenly leans over and says ‘I think we must invite them to braai tonight!’ And the adventure continues at her house! A few hours later, we officially had two new capetownian best friends and full bellies from lekker biltong chili bites [jerky], oysters and gemsbok! Days like these are exactly why I joined Peace Corps, to make friends and have unexpected and completely unplanned experiences.

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