Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving and Whatnot

Hello everyone, I hope you all had a gnarly Thanksgiving, I definitely did. A former Peace Corps Volunteer who lives in Polokwane, Joanna, hosts an American Thanksgiving every year for all the Peace Corps Volunteers in the area. She did Peace Corps about 5 years ago, decided to stay and married a South African. She’s really nice and has two super cute little boys. So there were about 25 people there, 8 from my group and a bunch of people from other PC groups. It was cool to meet some new people. Joanna and her husband take care of the turkey and everyone else was in charge of a dish. I was supposed to make mashed potatoes, but my friend Mike really wanted to do it so I let him. I peeled a bunch of vegetables instead, and did a lot of dishes. The food was great, and there were a bunch of gnarly pies. Since everyone stayed the night and we ate early, there were a couple more rounds later. I probably ate more that day than I normally do in a week in my village. I don’t eat much here, partly because it’s a hassle to go to the store and also because I have to carry it all up the hill, but it’s fine.

So the day before Thanksgiving I went to Mike’s village and visited his schools and stayed the night. It was cool to see another place. His village is way out there, surrounded by mountains. It’s really pretty. We went to the graduation for the Creche (preschool). (I love that word btw, it’s really fun to say). It was quite an extensive ceremony. The kids were wearing tiny burgundy graduation caps and gowns, it was super cute. They all got up and recited a poem or something for everyone. The only one I understood was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Then a group of women, probably the moms, did a somewhat choreographed dance for about 30 minutes, and then the teachers spoke for maybe another 30 minutes. It was quite long, but then there was awesome food after so it was cool. Then there were parties all over the village for the kids. It was kind of weird, Mike and I were at one house where there was music, food, and a bunch of people, and then all of a sudden, without an announcement that I could see, everyone gets up and leaves the yard and walks as a group down the road. We followed and after a 10 minute leisurely walk we get to another house where there’s a table with a cake and more food and music and the party continues. I’m not sure why the party had to migrate like that, instead of just taking the cake to the first house, but whatever.

So Mike also came to my village for a night, the day after Thanksgiving. It was cool showing him around. He couldn’t believe how much space I have and how nice my house is. The electricity was out that night so we cooked sausage, beans, and eggs on a paraffin stove thingy. My host brother Eugene ate with us and was quite stoked by the meal. He pretty much eats the same thing all the time, and had only eaten bread that day because of the lack of electricity.

School has been pretty slow the last week or so since final exams ended. A bunch of kids don’t show up to the last 3 weeks of school after exams, and sometimes the teachers don’t either, but that’s not new. So recently the kids have been playing outside or just hanging out for most of the day. There have also been kids walking around the village during school hours, no one really cares if they leave, it’s pretty weird. The schools are so different here than at home. There are constantly teacher-less classes, there is no such thing as a substitute teacher here. And 30% is a passing grade here and there are still tons of kids that fail. I administered a couple of exams one day, and it was disturbing how little the kids knew. For example, one true/false question for the 5th grade class was “A person can get Aids from drinking unclean water,” and an alarming percentage, at least half, put true.

So anyway, we have our second training next week which is at a super nice resort place about 300 miles from me. The other PCV’s in my area and I are traveling to Pretoria on Monday, staying there for the night and then taking a Peace Corps bus to the resort the next day. The training is a week long and my birthday is the last night, so I’m stoked. It should be fun to be with everyone. After the training I’m going to go to my friend Terri’s village for a few days and then a bunch of us are going on a trip. I don’t really know where we’re going as someone else is planning it, but we might go back to our training site to visit our first host families, which I really hope we do. But I do know that we’re going to St. Lucia for sure though, but not until a week after the training ends. A guy in my group set up a big Christmas thing there. His family is visiting from the U.S. and they’re doing a big dinner thing on the 21st, should be fun.

Alright, later dudes.