Saturday, October 25, 2014

Things I Admire about the Basotho

The Basotho get three things right: patience, connection and kindness.

   Life in Lesotho ain't easy.
   It's a whole other world when you have no electricity, running water or Chipotle nearby.
   Still, I've learned a lot from my simple way of living--and have come to admire several things about the Basotho: their patience, way of connection to people and genuine kindness.
   The Basotho certainly know how to be patient. My school quickly raised the money for our water pump project. But it took three contractors and nearly three months to start construction on the pump. I thought things would start much sooner because I come from a fast-paced society. Um, no. What a naive thing to think! Things are done very differently in Lesotho. Even when it pertains to construction. It took nearly a week for the contractor to secure a tractor to bring his drilling machine up the mountain that the school is on. He said that was the main hold up. Um, whatever. He did eventually come and we did eventually get our pump, after my host mother told me to be patient.
   The Basotho also know what it means to truly connect with people. My host family isn't on Facebook. They don't know a thing about Twitter. They don't have a blog. But everyday, we sit down at the kitchen table and talk. We play UNO. We read bedtime stories. We laugh. We fret. We eat homemade cake every Sunday. There's nothing wrong with technology or social networking, I use them to connect with my loved ones back in America. But the digital divide is real here in Lesotho; personal connection is not.
   Most Basotho are warm, welcoming and kind. I notice this in the little things they do. One day, I arrived to village from vacation and a Peace Corps training session with two huge bags. I saw my host brother's  teacher at the bus stop. We began to talk about everything and nothing. Afterward, she called her son and his friend over to help me carry my luggage up the mountain. I didn't ask her for help. And I didn't have to.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Thoughts on Ferguson

   The further down I browsed on my timeline, the more startling the images became: military tanks. Officers pointing guns at protesters. People choking from tear gas.
   I just knew these scenes were being carried out in Syria. Or Ukraine. Possibly Iraq. Afghanistan?
   Not Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, and certainly not in America, a country quick to mind the business of other nations with conflict.
   It has pained me that nearly two months later, America is still on fire over the killing of 18-year old Mike Brown, a young black man due to go to college shortly before his death.
   What rocked me to my core has been the ill treatment of this case by authorities: the unnecessary smear campaign against Brown by police authorities and the militarization of the police towards peaceful protesters.
   Forget what Mike Brown did moments before he lost his life. That’s irrelevant. He did not deserve to be shot at least six times by Officer Darren Wilson as he surrendered with his hands up in plain view of other people. And he did not deserve to have his body splayed out in the street, uncovered and in full view of the public after his killing. 
   Sure, people rioted. Looted. Anger and frustration manifest themselves in many ways to different people.       
   Perhaps, if Brown’s family and Ferguson citizens had gotten faster, concrete answers about the killing earlier on, things wouldn’t have spiraled out of control so quickly.
   The activism seen on social media and in the streets is encouraging, though. America’s ugly racial history is being recycled, and recorded. This modern-day revolution has been tweeted, Facebooked, Skyped and Vimeoed, despite the attempts of the police to shut out people’s voices.
   I’ve read many of these accounts from my tiny hut atop a mountain thousands of miles away in the bush of Africa. I’ve discussed this tragedy with my host family and some of my Basotho friends.
   There’s not much I can say or do, except to ask for peace and justice for Mike Brown’s family and the Ferguson community. The world is praying. The world certainly is watching.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things I’m Looking forward to in America

I'm certainly looking forward to hot, steamy showers when I return to America!  

    A while back, my bestie asked me to name some things that I’m looking forward to seeing and doing when I return home to America next month.
   It wasn’t a hard thing to think about.
   Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing my dear friends and family, whom I haven’t seen during my entire service. They have held me down and allowed me to live out this dream that I’ve been living for the past two and a half years.
   I’m also looking forward to eating bean burritos at Chipotle, looking at the nail polish display at Sephora, browsing the clearance aisles at Target and eating tomato and mozzarella sandwiches at Panera Bread.
   Add these to the list: electricity, hot showers, unlimited internet, my car, paved roads, infrastructure and civilization.
  Although I’ll greatly miss Lesotho, I have exactly one more month before I get to indulge in all of these things that I miss dearly in America.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Post-Peace Corps Plan

Pretty soon, I'll be a potato. No, not the scrumptious looking one in this photo. But I'll be a couch potato. Trust me, it's a real profession and I'm going to rise to the top in this industry!

   Many of you have asked what my post-Peace Corps plan is.
   Well, I've finally figured it out.
   I'm going to be a professional couch potato.
   Yep, you read that right! A professional couch potato.
   Pretty soon, my ass will be firmly planted on my brother's sleek, brown leather couch for an unspecified amount of time.
   I will acquaint myself with mentors like Little Debbie and Twinkie, people who have not induced my blood sugar and cholesterol for the past two and a half years.
   I will exercise, as my right thumb will work thee hell out of my brother's remote control.
   And I will network--or more appropriately, neckwork, For my neck will work those big fluffy pillows that call my brother's couch home.
   Pretty soon, that couch will be my comfy abode, too.
   Not a half-baked plan, eh?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Peace Corps Service in Punctuation Marks

I think my host brother's expression would be best classified as an exclamation mark!

     Grammar is one of my favorite things to teach in school.
   I love breaking down the comma, examining the exclamation mark and explaining the period.
   You better believe I have a song for each one so my students can remember the function of each mark and have fun.
   Now, if my Peace Corps service could be any punctuation mark, it would be three of them.
Read on:

-The question mark: During my service, I’ve questioned a lot of things: Did this man just whip out his willy and pee in that bush right **in front** me? Did this stranger just casually plop her baby on my lap in this taxi? Did I just cuss the hell out of Border Patrol police? When was the last time I washed my ass? How old is this pot of rice? If I ask a lot of questions about my Peace Corps service, then the question mark best represents it, right?

-The exclamation mark: OMG!! Life is so extreme here! Sometimes I just want to scream! Ahhhhhhh! I just screamed!! I’m homesick! Miss my mama! I want the bean burrito at Chipotle! The taxi drivers in Lesotho suck! But yay, I got a hitch to site! This is Peace Corps life! Full of exclamation marks! Ahhh!!!!

-The comma: Peace Corps service seems to filled with many commas, or pauses, or breaks, because so many things happen, all the time, at the same time, or time after time, like Cyndi Lauper, because there’s no concept of time, but things happen a lot of the times, which is why volunteers need breaks, or pauses, like the many commas in this paragraph.

   Sentences with no punctuation marks would have no meaning.
   Same goes for Peace Corps life.
   Grammatical symbols perfectly encapsulates my experience, OK?!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Importance of the Cow in Basotho Culture

Cows are very important to the Basotho people.

   Many cultures revere the cow and the Basotho people are one of them.
   They use all parts and products of the cow, its milk, meat and skin.
   Here are some examples:

-They smear cow dung on their houses to decorate them.

-The cow's tail is often used for brooms, baskets and musical instruments.

-Naturally, the cow is used in farming, as Lesotho is an agricultural society.

-The Basotho shield on the Lesotho flag is of a cow's skin.

-The skin is used for traditional clothing.

-The cow is a vital part of marriage negotiations and arrangements. A man must pay lebola of 26 cows to the bride's family.

   Re chabana sa khomo. That means "We are the people of the cow" in Sesotho, Lesotho's Mother Tongue.
   As you can see, that statement is true. The cow is essential to Basotho life, it is truly an animal of the people.

Information Source: The Morija Museum  and Archives

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Footage of My Students Singing (World Wise Post)

This blog post is part of a series of activities that I'm doing for the Peace Corps' World Wise program. The program links Basotho and American schools through various activities such as blogs like this one and friendly letters.

Here's footage of my students singing and having a good time. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Peace Corps Service in manicure format!!

   My bosses here always tell me to find coping mechanisms for the tough days of service.
   Not a hard thing for me to do when I have a million and two bottles of nail polish in my little hut:)
   Maintaining my manicures has been a big part of my life here, so I thought it would be really cool to tell the story of my service through my manicures.
   Read on:

About two years ago, I left my career, car and loved ones in America to be an education Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho:

I live in a hut called a rondavel:

It has lots of spiders:

The experience has been so raw that I've felt naked at times:

I teach English and Life Skills to primary school students:

Some days are bright and easy peasy:

Other days leave me feeling blue:

...especially during the holiday season when I'm not around my family:

I've definitely been on an emotional roller coaster:

But I am so grateful for this unique opportunity to serve others with all my heart:

I even still got to inhale my beloved cupcakes:

And see beautiful South African sunsets:

I'm so grateful to be here and to sometimes have a chance to sit back an smell the flowers!

   Painting my nails, especially during my service, really kills two birds with one stone for me.
   It helps me to relax, since I can be a little high-strung. And it is one of my biggest coping mechanisms, behind writing, crafting and reading.
   I'm looking forward to continuing my polish passion when I step on American soil in December:)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Footage of the Student Choir (World Wise Post)

This blog post is part of a series of activities that I'm doing for the Peace Corps' World Wise program. The program links Basotho and American schools through various activities such as blogs like this one and friendly letters.

Here are videos of my students practicing for Moshoeshoe's Day, which was held on March 11. Enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Footage of my students using their water pump

My students are using their brand new water pump. They helped to make it a reality by making jewelery for the school's craft project. Profits from the craft project went toward the pump.