Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First week at site

Well, I'm settling in at site now for real. I have my own little room outside the house and am gradually buying things to build up my own little kitchen on a wee table. So far, I have a kettle, which means I can only eat instant noodles and instant oatmeal. And tea. But very soon, I'll get a hot plate and be in business! It's all rather cute, if I must say.

My family is FANTASTIC. I never really interacted with my training host family, but I love hanging out with this one. The house is owned by an old woman, but her sister (who can only walk with a walker), 6-year-old grandson and 2-year-old great-grandson also stay here. It's hard to describe, but they're fantastic. The sister, especially, is so full of life and stories from her life in Jo'berg. She sits on a little porch all day and sells little packets of snacks and frozen koolaid to school kids. She always busy and never quiet and I love hanging out, except when she starts talking about God (which happens a lot, because I think she's trying to convince me of something). The 6-year-old, Neo, is super curious and always trying to spy on me or sneak into my room if the door's open. He was good about being more polite when I asked him, though. There's been a ton of extended family visiting, too. Mostly, young women, who I've spent hours talking with and who I can't wait to spend more time with!

Work is a little confusing. I don't really know what's going on or what I'm supposed to be doing. Partially, that's because no one else does either. These first three months are about finding a niche. Personally, I'm hoping that they'll find me a desk before the three months are over. There's been some scandals and now the municipal manager is suspended and there's no one to make decisions. Oh, and salaries weren't paid last month, so there might be a strike. Who knows? Meanwhile, I sit in my boss' office studying a book on Access. Because if I have to read another bit of law that is as badly edited as the Municipal Structures Act, it might be problematic. I really wanted to mark it up. Such bad alignment! And the punctuation! And the inconsistant use of bold & italics! I know some people in the State of Indiana who would have fainted at the sight.

Finally, I feel it is my duty to warn you against cat ownership. Wizards can use them to kill you. Or make you blind. Glad I asked my pet-loving gogo whether she liked cats before I asked if I could have one in my room.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bring me the finest muffins & bagels in the land!

Victory is mine! I have triumphed over the gods of language testing and scored an intermediate high on ye olde Sepedi (Northern Sotho). I can only assume that the Harry Potter reference tipped me over the edge (as opposed to the scenario which I completely bombed). Either that, or, as I suspect may well be the case, the evaluator was generous.

Regardless, my host family LOVED the photos that I gave them as a thank you present and I am almost entirely packed (the rest doesn't have to be ready until Wednesday morning). It's all very strange.

Oh, and I made tuna noodle "casserole" for my family. My sister was not impressed (but, then, she so rarely is with my cooking).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Woo! I have internets!

Yes, this isn't the most exciting day of my life, but it ranks pretty high up there! (Hmmm...I should think about what the most exciting day was.) But, I've managed to make my computer (lovely, lovely mactop) talk to my mobile phone (which I guess it already did, because that's how I got cool ringtones) so that I can have internet anywhere I want! So, now I can blog from the comfort of my very own rural village! If only my phone could also provide showers....

There's also so much to say that I don't have a very clear idea of where to start. I've had some incredible high points, some incredible lows and a lot of more moderate oscillations. My host family sometimes drives me nuts, but as we get closer to leaving, I find myself really kind of upset about not seeing them every day. I am so looking forward to training being finished, but I don't really know what I'll do with my days once I'm at site and relatively alone. And, I had a terrible placement originally that made me burst into tears every time I thought about it, but ended up with one that sounds like an incredible challenge that I'm super-eager to take on!

My permanent site will be in an area called Jane Furse, located here. My job will be to work with the local municipality in their department of community services, which doesn't really exist right now. They've just hired someone new (who's worked with PCVs before and is fantastic) and want me to help her. I'm very excited because it fits in with some of my interests (human rights, government reform, politics) and sounds like such a huge challenge. But, I can't wait to get to work!

We swear in on Thursday and then I'll be a real PCV. Hurrahs! And, I'm sure I could give you some funny stories if you wanted. I'll have to think of some.

Until then, think of me in my language test trying to figure out how to describe the plot of Harry Potter in a language I barely speak (Sepedi, for the record, and I'll know the results soon). Um. "Harry nna...wizard le o ya sekolo...Hogwarts." Oh, yes. That really happened. Or you can think of me greeting the cows that roam pretty freely here: "Dumela, kgomo!" They don't answer back. Sad.