Back from Break

I’m back at site after a couple weeks in Pretoria for our mid-service training and the LSAT. (Still haven’t fully processed the test- saw the university in Johannesburg and interacted with some cool Americans, that’s really all I can remember.)
Pretoria is a beautiful, functioning city with real food and running water, so it’s always a rude awakening when I come back from there. Mid-service training consisted of sessions meant to get us re-energized for our LAST YEAR. Can’t believe I’m already here. It was great to have our group all together again and catch up; the next time we’ll be back together is when we’re finishing up our service. (!!!)
You know you’re back to the reality of Peace Corps when you start the long journey back. We left about 9am, and arrived back to our shopping town around 8pm. This was the day after sitting for hours for the LSAT, my butt hurts. 😦 We spent the night in town to get one last shower and then headed back to our villages. Traveling back to our sites is a nightmare; since the strikes, our bus has stopped running and we’re forced to take bakkies. Peace Corps Volunteers aren’t supposed to use these, but the Peace Corps knows this is our only option.
I think many people would consider a bakkie ride hell on earth. You are a human sardine, packed in with bags, 10kg loads of rice and sugar, and crying and sick babies. Men are drunk, women snort tobacco, children wet their pants, and personal space is a distant memory. Part of the culture is to speak much louder than you have to, making the squished ride anything but peaceful. (Thank God for headphones.) Summer’s also starting, so if you enjoy sitting in a pool of your own sweat hop on in!

On my first day back I see that our school has been broken into, AGAIN.  Same things stolen: computers, cell phone, some money. It blows my mind that this happened two times. Someone, anyone, in the community clearly knows something, but no one will come forward. The school is one of the only functioning (I use the term loosely) institutions in the village, we give the children an education and a meal, yet thieves have no problem robbing from us. Unbelievable.


 

Police at the school

My principal also informed me that the school is completely out of water. Boys are constantly being pulled from their lessons to fetch some from the village. If anyone has any ideas for water in a village, pass them along! She also told me that she suspended five of the worst behaved boys in the school. It was a long time coming, and I feel a little sorry that they’re out of school, but I plan to work with them one-on-one more when they’re back. The suspensions has made one of my classes (Grade 7) much more productive, while Grade 6 is still as rowdy as ever.

This term is the shortest of the four, so I’m really trying to hit the ground running. I’d love to get these kids under control long enough to teach some lessons, and start planning a girls camp with some fellow volunteers. Now that I’m not studying anymore, I can sit outside again after school and read leisurely and make some traction on my secondary projects. Not looking forward to the bugs and sweat that summer brings, but I’m excited that I’m almost finished with my first full year here!

 

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