Monday, August 13, 2012

Hey Everyone,

As I'm sure most of you know I will be coming home soon. Yay! The past month or so has been pretty crazy with finishing things up at school, going away parties, packing, and whatnot. I left my village for the last time yesterday, and will be leaving South Africa on Thurday. I'm pretty stoked. It's been an interesting two years. Some things have been super awesome while many other things have been terrible, but overall I've enjoyed the time I spent in South Africa and am glad I did Peace Corps.

My host family threw a going away party for me two weeks ago. It was pretty awesome. They invited people from the village and there was an official ceremony with an itinerary and everything. There was singing, dancing, speeches, more singing, and then lots of food, which is all typical of any South African event. And oh, my host mom bought me a traditional South African dress to wear at the party. It's not the most attractive dress (lime green and red), but everyone loved that I wore it.

Last week I passed out teddy bears to all 200 students at the lower primary school. I got the bears donated from the organization It's a US organization that sends knitted teddy bears to organizations or schools all over the world that work with kids that are affected by HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately most of the kids that live in rural villages in South Africa are affected by HIV in some way. We have a lot of orphans who usually live with their grandmothers after their parents die from AIDS, and there are even some kids in the village that were infected with the virus at birth by their mothers. So all the kids got a bear, and they loved them. It was really fun handing them out to the kids. I will post some pictures later. The bears are knitted by people all ove the country who send them to the organization, so if you knit and would be interested in making a few bears that would be awesome and there is information on the website.

Ok, I'll see you all soon!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sup Dudes

Things have been pretty crazy these past couple months. Went home for the holidays, which I'm sure most of you were aware of. I had a great time seeing family and friends. It was an awesome trip. Considering how completely opposite my rural South African life is from my American life, I thought it was going to be really weird going back, but it really wasn't all that weird. The first day or two were definitely a bit surreal, but I think that was mostly because I barely slept on the 26 hour journey (or on the two nights prior to departure), making me slightly more zombie-like than normal. But after my brain returned to its normal functionality, it just felt right being back.

Returning to South Africa wasn't terrible either. Walking to the hostel in Pretoria right after arriving there was definitely an "Oh yeah, this place again," moment as I passed houses with intense gates and/or walls topped with razor wire. But I got right back into South Africa mode.

School has been a bit disappointing so far, for several reasons. The government gave the Department of Education a bunch of money a while back, but almost none of it actually made it to the schools. The corruption here is more easily seen than in other places, and is quite disgusting. Government employees drive around in fancy cars and probably have nicer houses than most, while the kids often don't get textbooks or food. For these first three weeks of the school year there has not been school lunch available at my two schools, as the department did not give them money to buy food. Another reason school is disappointing is that at the higher primary school a teacher retired at the end of the school year last year. The school had known for a long time that this was the teacher's plan. In fact, he mentioned to me in our first conversation (Sept 2010) that he was planning to retire in Dec 2011. So when did the principal start to look for the guy's replacement? In January, two days before the students returned, of course. He posted a flyer at the district office and a week later 10 people turned up for interviews. Somebody has been hired, but only in a temporary position because "It takes months for the person to be certified and approved by the district." So why didn't they start looking for the replacement in September of last year? Because that would have been the efficient way to do things, and that is definitely not South Africa's strong suit. My contract is up in August, and I can't wait. I enjoy being here, working with the kids and whatnot, but the incompetence and corruption of the country is definitely getting to me.

But on a lighter note, I'd like to examine the naming practices of this country. In South Africa when it comes to naming your child, anything goes. Seriously, anything. For the past year or so I've been keeping track of my favorite names that I have come across. The list is now up to 35 so I thought it was time to share. These all come from the black South African population. Afrikaaners have some weird ones too, but they're weird in a different, European way, like Yolandi, Dirk, and Jakes. Of course the majority of black South Africans have names from their native language and most of them have cool meanings, like Thabang (means "happiness,") Karabo (means "answer,") Tau (means "lion,") and Paballo (means "cared for.") All four of those names are Sepedi, which in case you forgot is the language spoken in my area. But when it comes to English names that's when things get really interesting. Besides the strange ones I'm going to list there are also a few "old fashioned" names that are prevalent in the younger population, like Rosemary, Sharon, and Edith. But anyway, here are my favorite South African names:

1. Welldone

2. Silence

3. Voice

4. Wonderboy

5. Kleinboy

6. Bigboy (Yes, this one's a nickname, but a lot of kids go by it at school, and yes, they're all slightly larger boys.)

7. Prince

8. Princess

9. Queen (Lots of royalty in this country.)

10. Excellent (How could kids with this name not go far in life? Haha.)

11. Jankie (I have no idea where it comes from or what it means, but I love this one.)

12. Blessing

13. Gratitude

14. Given

15. Computer (His nickname is laptop. Seriously.)

16. Pretty

17. Dankie (Means "thank you" in Afrikaans, but sounds like "donkey.")

18. Offense

19. Brown Bread (This one comes from an old drunk in Mike's village, I'm guessing his parents were big fans of bread.)

20. Witness

21. Siyabonga (means "thank you" in Zulu.)

22. Bright

23. Golden

24. Hercules

25. Knowledge

26. Justice

27. Active

28. Reason

29. Nice

30. Emagnetious (Another one that I have no idea about, but like a lot. I feel like that kid should be a wizard with that name or something.)

31. Nurse (She's a teacher.)

32. Remember

33. Saturday (Awesome.)

34. Lucky

35. Confidence

It's always awesome when someone introduces their self to me with one of these names. Can't you just imagine Hercules and Knowledge meeting for the first time? One's a God and the other is, well, knowledge. BA. Welldone and Voice both work at the same restaurant. I hope they're friends.

Ok, peace out for now.