Monday, August 23, 2010

Our daily bread

Holy Busy Batman! My apologies again for a lack of posts. Since school has started I have been busier than ever working on classes, getting kids to use the new school library, library workshop things, writing a program with a PCV friend to help schools do grades, and finally diversity camp!

Diversity camp took me to the mountains of Lesotho to the district of Mokhotlong. The camp was for 24 (though only 20 made it) high school students. The purpose of the camp was to introduce the kids to different kinds of diversity and how to accept or at least tolerate those around them who are different. There were several speakers from people of different races to people of different beliefs to people of different sexual orientation. A lot of the kids had never met an atheist or homosexual in the past. I think it was quite eye opening for them. The goal of the camp is to have the kids be ambassadors to their schools and communities. I really hope they bring the messages back. If not, at least they got a weekend with great food, running water, and electricity.

So the camp was funded from a source that addresses HIV and AIDS relief. This includes education. Because of this, much of the camp was focused on HIV. When introducing HIV, one PCV asked the kids, "Does HIV have a cure?" One student raised his hand and told a story. There was a man who tested positive in a single test. This man then went to the church where he prayed. He got tested again and was found negative. The church claimed credit and can cure HIV apparently. When asked if HIV can be cured through prayer, half of the kids thought it could be. My jaw hit the floor. I was both sad and angry. I am still both sad and angry. HIV is such a big problem here and people are not educated about it. Not even not educated but told wrong information. The kids did not even consider the possibility that the first test may have been a mistake. Grr.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Get a basin...

Soooo school started this week. It began with a slow day. School is supposed to start at ten to eight with an assembly. The assembly started maybe ten after eight with half the student body present. Most teachers did not attend class and i was free to go to the class that I wanted. I was excited to see my kids, especially the kids who I teach health to. My brilliant new idea (crossing my fingers that it works) is to show the kids glee! Glee has hit the peace corps lesotho world like wildfire. I want to show the kids an episode one period and talk about life lessons (teenage pregnancy, drug use, decision making, self image) the next. I hope they understand it.

So the title of the post refers to what happened to me when I got home from school today. I live with an Ntate (means father in Sesotho). His name is Tankiso and he is the greatest host family I could ask for. I have a feeling he keeps me safe in the village. He has sheep and donkeys (I even got to ride one!). He gives me vegetables from his garden and shows me around the village at gatherings and things. Last night he came home late and made a bit of noise. I went to see what was going on. He said all was well (oh ya, his english is pretty limited so we have fun talking. usually we try to say things using my broken sesotho and his broken english and we dont understand so we just laugh) and that he was having a bbq today. When I got home from school, he told me to get a "basin." I was confused, I thought maybe he wanted me to take a bath (its been a while haha). But he went into his house and came out with a plate of sheep liver from a sheep that had just been killed and prepared for bbq. He was giving me the liver as a gift! Problem is, it looked pretty nasty (not old, it was quite fresh but livers kinda funky) and I have no idea how to prepare liver. So I cut it up (holding my nose) and put it in a stir fry with some vegetables. It was actually quite good!

Until next time...


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ranting and Raving


Yes, that is hola spelled without an h and is used as a greeting here. Strange.

So I have been away from my site for the last week or so. A few of us went to another volunteers site to build these things called keyhole gardens. They consist of a rock wall filled in with layers of dirt, manure, and other fertilizer. They are shaped like a keyhole, thus the name. They last a few years and are better for growing plants than straight in the ground. My friend, Rory, had found a few support groups near his village and they gathered the materials to build these gardens to support orphans, both from the food and from selling the food grown in the garden. A pretty great project. We had built one such a garden during our training and it took 20ish of us a few hours to build it. I was very skeptical that we would be able to finish all the gardens in the time allowed. When we showed up, however, many of the materials were already gathered and there were many community members there working along side us. It never took us more than a few hours. I was very inspired by the community's involvement because a lot of complaints here by PCVs is how hard it is to find reliable community support.

After the hard work we helped Rory paint his house. He gave us each a space on his wall. Aliens, dinosaurs, flowers, suns, and walugui were all painted by my artistic collegues. Not being as artistic, i chose to cover my body in plastic, paint myself blue, and bodyslam the wall. The bodyslam didn't quite work out, so I sorta just leaned against it, but my print was definitely there.

Ok onto the title of the post. I need a minute to rant and rave a bit. I am pretty glad I have no aspirations to be a celebrity. Because that's what it feels like here. Little kids stop and stare at me. I am called mokhotsi (friend) by everyone and their mothers and am asked for candy, money, or jobs by many people who I don't know (those i do know have realized that's not what I'm here for). At first this was exciting to be asked all the time, but I have grown a bit tired of it. Another thing is that people ask you where you are going and where you are coming from. I know this is not a rude question here, but it rubs me the wrong way a lot of times. Imagine if you were walking down the street in say New York or Chicago and people asked you where you were going. You would probably give them a funny look, tell them to buzz off (or something more profane), and ignore them. So in short, some cultural differences are proving difficult.

Ok, that's all for now. School starts a week from monday and more regular posts will come with stories from school. I will also try to put more pics on shutterfly at that time. Thanks for all the love and support!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Gimee Da Sweeeets

So this post contains a story that requires a bit of background information. Some time ago (and maybe even currently), visitors to Lesotho must have given candy to children. These people must be punished in some way because now all children (and I have even had adults, including one grandmother) ask for candy and money. “Where are the sweets?” They ask. Or sometimes even command, “Give me sweets!” It is a bit annoying.

So in life skills class, we used a question jar in one session. The question jar is a jar that the kids can write questions in without putting their names on the questions and they have time to think of the English in which to write the question. I pull out a few questions at the end of class and answer them. Many of the questions have to do with HIV and sex.

So the question that was pulled in this session was along the lines of “Do you have to use a condom every time you have sex?” I wanted the kids to think about it, so I said, “What do you think? Those of you who think you don’t need a condom when having sex, raise your hands.” A few kids raised their hands. I asked one particularly vocal student, “Why do you think you don’t need to use a condom?” He replied, “Sir, you just take the wrapper from the sweets and use those!”

This makes me both laugh and cry at the same time. I initially laughed, but it is no wonder Lesotho has the 3rd highest rate of HIV in the world.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What should I eat for Second Lunch and First Dinner?

Food is the reason for life. Back in the US after breakfast I would think, “What’s for lunch?” When traveling places, many activities are based on food. Besides friends and family the things I miss most are food items from the US. El gallo, Vietnamese noodle soup, chipotle, deep dish pizza…the list goes on and on. So my food post will be split into two sections, food of Lesotho and food I or we have made.

So food of Lesotho is not super extravagant. The staple is a dish called papa. It is maize meal (maize is like corn but tougher) that has the consistency of really hard mashed potatoes. It is super starchy and has pretty much no nutritional value. It is either eaten with beans, split peas, or moroho. Moroho literally means vegetable, but this refers to a certain cabbage like plant that is chopped up, covered in oil, and fried for a long time. It is really greasy and smells funny after it sits out for a while. I don’t eat it so much anymore. My favorite dish is called Chakalaka. It is carrots and tomatoes that are chopped up and served in this spicy sauce. As I type this post, I am stuffing my face with rice and canned chakalaka. Steamed homemade bread is also very common (and I can make it!). Beets are many times included in meals as well. Most people’s favorite food here is meat. Chicken, beef, pork, mutton, anything. People go crazy for it. I guess this is because it is not a common thing to eat meat because it is expensive. I kid you not but KFC is a very popular restaurant. I go for the ice cream because it costs less than 50 cents US, but that may just be me.

I needed to start a new paragraph for this final Basotho food item. It is called the Maquena (I think that’s how you spell it). The nickname is the fat cake. They are sold for 1 rand (around 7.5 rand to the dollar) for a big one and 20 cents for small ones. They use the same bread dough as the steamed bread and deep fry it in oil. Heaven in a tiny, greasy ball. I sometimes eat them with sugar or peanut butter or both. Yum.

So onto the creative peace corps volunteers. I must start by saying that I have given myself a challenge for my peace corps service. I am going to try to eat my weight in peanut butter. I am at around 40 lbs. Kinda gross, I know but I put it on a lot of things. It’s funny because I thought I might not be able to get peanut butter. Ha. That was wrong.

So eating in restaurants is a different experience. A lot of times service will be tortoise slow and they will often not have ingredients to make things on the menu. Pizza comes without pizza sauce and burgers all have mutton in them. Bunny chow should be brought to the US (it is a hollowed out piece of bread and filled with beans and meat and vegetables in a curry sauce, named for Indians who worked in the fields in South Africa and would put their curry in bread because they didn’t have utensils). Fries are called chips and chips are called ma-simba (after a brand of chips…like calling tissues Kleenex). Peri peri sauce is a chili sauce that makes anything and everything better. Mexican food does not exist.

Highlights of homemade things cooked on gas stoves and dishes washed in buckets include…
1) Homemade pizza, dough, sauce, everything!
2) Bread bowls for soup (Being cold, I am on a soup kick), also the soup was really spicy and delicious and filled with vegetables
3) The famous peanut butter soy sauce combo that makes easy thai
4) Tuna melts
5) PH sandwiches (these are greasy egg, cheese, tomato, and recently garlic and avocado that I make for people) (I must give credit to my college roommates for the inspiration (and my friend Haley), I cut mine in triangles everytime)
6) Chili, I don’t make this, but Eric makes a mean chili
7) Buffalo dip
8) Many a tortilla and guacamole
9) Chocolate chip French toast from homemade steamed bread
10) Chocolate chip cookies with a peanut butter chocolate sauce melted on top
11) I am sure there are more and I will update the list as we cook masterpiece

Me go to school to learn real good

So my primary job here is as a high school teacher. I am supposed to teach maths (yes math is plural) and science. But my school only needed maths, so that’s all I teach. I teach one class each of 8th, 9th, and 11th grade. I also teach health to 9th and 10th graders. My classes range from 30 to 70 kids. The kids sit two or three to a long desk. Class periods are 40 minutes long. The school campus is made up of several buildings. Each building holds two to three classes. Here each class has its own classroom and not each teacher. The teachers rotate classes each period.

In each of my maths classes, I generally lecture for 20 mins or so and then have the kids do practice problems. 5th grade must have had quite an impact on my learning career because I stole two ideas from my 5th grade teachers. We have weekly quizzes. I divided the kids into teams and formed a league. The team with the best score at the end got a prize. I cooked them fried rice and they got to come hang out at my house. It was fun, but quite awkward. Haha, they were a bit shy. I think this has some to do with their English level. I was always hesitant to speak Spanish to native speakers when I was learning so I understand I guess. School is supposed to be all in English, but that doesn’t really happen at my school. The teachers started by speaking English to the kids, but that gradually faded and now there is not a word of English. Most classes are a mix of English and Sesotho. It is difficult to change the way the school works. The lack of English makes tests very difficult for kids, but the culture here is so strong, speaking Sesotho is a point of great pride. On the flip side, even trying to speak some Sesotho will win peoples hearts as a foreigner.

The other thing I stole from 5th grade is the estimation jar. I put a various number of objects, or a question in a jar each week and the kids have to guess how many objects are in the jar. It is fun! My favorite was one week I stuffed 9 plastic bags in a jar and picked them out one by one when we revealed the answer. Also it blew the kids minds when I asked the question, how many people live in America?

I am a bit frustrated with school at the current moment. My kids did very poorly on the midterm June exam. It really made me question my worth here. I think there are a few reasons why. First, there is a stigma against math. Most concepts learned here are memorized. Kids are not taught to apply anything. That makes math very difficult. Also homework doesn’t really exist. I give homework, but it is done in school. Studying also is not a common practice. Many of the problems my kids answered incorrectly on the exam, they had answered correctly on quizzes during the year. Lastly, standards are much much much lower. You only have to pass 3 classes and English to move onto the next grade. I wrote more here, but I thought it might get me in trouble so I will refrain.

I really enjoy being in class with the kids. They are a lot of fun. I did an exercise with one of my classes. I had them write down 3 things that make them happy to have them think about what they want with their lives. Many said they wanted to be married fairly soon and asked me if I wanted to marry (side note, I have had two girls drop out of school because they got married). I said maybe someday, but not for a few years. One girl then asked if I would marry her. I said sorry, I want to be older. She told me she would wait. HA!

I have a jar in my health classes where the kids can write questions in the jar and I will answer the questions at the end of lectures/activities. One of my favorite questions was “What is resly?” It took me a minute to understand that resly meant wrestling. They show WWF wrestling and a lot of people really like it here. I can’t tell if people think it is real or not. I don’t have the heart to crush dreams so I leave it alone. My goal is to update my blog twice a week with stories from school when school starts again. Please Please Please yell at me if I slack on that goal!

A somber post

After the first world cup game, I had to rush back to my site because a student at my school had passed away a few weeks earlier and the funeral was the next day. I taught this student in health class in a class of 70 kids, so I did not know him very well but it was still jarring to have a student pass away. He had been sick for some time and went to see the traditional healer. He did not get better so they said he was possessed by witches. One day at school, he was kicked hard in the chest while playing soccer. He came to school the next day and complained of chest pain. He did not get better so he was taken to the hospital where he died later that day.

The day of the funeral, the school arranged a bus to pick students and teachers up and drive to the site of the funeral. We were supposed to meet at 8. I was the first one at school at 815. Most students and teachers showed up around 9 (everything happens late here). We got a call around 915 that the bus that was to take us to the funeral had “broken down beyond repair” and was therefore not going to come. We scrambled to hire a few taxis to bring us. The cell network was down that day so that made it very difficult to contact anyone. After a few hours, we finally all arrived at the site.

The funeral was supposed to start at 10. We got there at approximately 1, so who knows when it actually started. My guess is 11. At a Basotho funeral, there are speeches by anyone who wants to give them about the deceased. We arrived during these speeches. I could not understand much as it was all in Sesotho. After the speeches, we were walked through a small building where the body was being held (similar to a wake). We paid our respects while students from the school sang hymns. When everyone had gone through, the coffin was carried up a hill to the grave site. The family members took turns shoveling dirt on the grave. When they were finished, all the men (including me) took turns filling in dirt until it was completely covered. During this whole time, members of the crowd sang hymns. It was very solemn. A priest said a prayer and the service concluded around 330. We then were given food (I ate and then helped serve) and waited for the taxis to return us to school.

It was similar to funerals in the US except that the wake, funeral, and reception were all in one. The night before there is a vigil held, where people can come and sing and pray throughout the night. We did not attend this, however. Also the ceremony is much longer than in the US. It can last 6 to 8 hours. Talking to people before the ceremony, I had gathered that people here viewed death much differently. People complained about having to go to so many funerals and talked of dead relatives almost off handedly. I had gathered that some here treated death as another part of life and it was not such an earth shattering event as it can be in the US. But after viewing this funeral, seeing tears on almost everyone’s faces, including males who are discouraged from showing emotion, my perception changed. I was under the impression that the human life was not valued highly. I see now that that is not the case. The high incidence of HIV here and the difficult living conditions make death pretty common and funerals regular events. This could desensitize people toward death. I thought that was the case. I see now that loss of life, especially a loved one, is not taken for granted and the sadness is real both here and in the US.


So being in Lesotho, I had the opportunity to attend two world cup matches. I have posted pictures on my shutterfly. I once again messed up the address. It is That is the correct address. Please disregard the first two.

The first game we saw was Greece versus Nigeria in Bloemfontein (shortened to Bloom). This is a small city only an hour and a half from the border of Lesotho. We took a bus from the border, but before getting on the bus we had to take a taxi from the boarder to the bus. There happened to be a few cops in a truck present when we crossed the border. They offered to give us a lift to bus! So the pics of me in the back of a police truck were of us getting a ride…I swear I didn’t do anything wrong. My favorite part of the city is the cooling towers of a coal power plant (I think it is no longer operational, but I could be wrong). The cooling towers are painted with designs. They are very pretty. That coupled with my power engineering background makes them special to me.

We arrived in Bloom the day of the game. I think Bloom has a fair amount to do, such as a zoo (but I hate zoos because the animals look really sad), but we didn’t have a lot of time so we went to two malls. Ha. The first mall was called Mimosa mall and OH BOY was it shiny. I am not used to such cleanliness and bright lights. It was a sensory overload. We perused bookstores, clothing stores, and the food court. The highlight of this mall was the muffins. I know this is quite a bold statement, but I will say that the chocolate chip muffin I consumed was the best muffin of my life. It was huge and warm and fluffy. It came with a side of butter, jelly, and cheese (yes cheese…I’m not sure why). After the bliss of muffins, we walked to the waterfront mall, which was situated close to the stadium. I figured we would be able to buy vuvuzelas (those annoying horn things you hear on tv that sound like bees) there, but apparently everyone and their mothers had sold out of them! I volunteered to run back to mall number one and bought four from guys selling them illegally on the street (we saw these same guys being chased away by the cops later, turns out you can’t sell merchandise within so many kms of the stadium). I ran back and met up with my group. They came bearing face paint! We entered the stadium two hours early, expecting security and lines to be long. It took us about 30 seconds to get in. There is tighter security at White Sox games. Sooo with our ample time, we drank Budweiser (go America!), painted our faces and practiced using the vuvuzelas (They are harder than they look…the key is to motorboat those things!). We found our seats which were on the first level and only about 12 rows up. I rooted for Greece while my friends rooted for Nigeria. The stands were not filled. I find this a bit embarrassing. This is supposed to be the biggest sporting event in the world and they can’t sell tickets? I know South Africa has been praised for how they have handled the world cup, but after the hassle we went through with tickets and the fact that there were empty seats gives me the opinion that South Africa should not hold this major of an event for a long time.

After 90 mins of excitement and much vuvuzela blowing, Greece won their first ever world cup match! I was pumped. We walked to a resturaunt where I ate the greatest burger of my time in Africa. Then, influenced by a drink or four, we thought it wise to go to McDonalds and eat yet another burger (I got the mega mac…4 patties…yes I regretted this the next day). We then returned to the hostel where I got to take a shower! It’s great to have running water. I find it interesting that the actual game part of this trip excited me less than the shiny mall and many food options.

The second game was slotted to be the winner of the US/England group to play the runner up of the Ghana/Germany group. I watched the US/Algeria game with great excitement. I was pretty distraught, thinking there might be a chance we see Slovenia, but thanks to Landon Donavon in stoppage time, we were off to see the US!

We took a similar trip to Bloom (minus the police escort) where we had a rental car waiting for us. We drove from Bloom to Rustenburg in a few hours. We stopped for food and bathroom breaks (turns out gas stations are just as exciting as malls). Along the way we listened to music, played car games, decorated ties and vuvuzelas, and shared in the general excitement of getting to see the US. We got to Johannesburg and promptly got lost. The signage was terrible! We got through some of the city and my friend (the only one who knows how to drive stick) was feeling sick. I had expressed interest in learning so she put me behind the wheel. What a scary experience. I stalled the car at least a dozen times and three times pulling out of the gas station where we switched. I did have a few good accelerations and once I got going it was easy. Stop signs have never been so scary. We did make it however and now I have a new desire to learn stick! We got dinner that night at yet another shiny mall then rested for the big game the next day.

We woke up the next morning nice and warm (it’s really cold in Lesotho at the moment) and proceeded again to the shiny mall where we found the same place with the muffins (I guess it’s a chain). After stuffing ourselves with muffins, we went in search for America decorations for the game. My friend really wanted to wear a flag. There was one store that sold flags, but they were out of US ones. I spied a US flag in the window of a bakery. I smoothly greeted the owner and said, “I have a bit of a weird question, is there any way you could sell us your flag?” I think she thought I was a bit nuts, but agreed to swap for a different flag if we were willing to take the US flag down and put the other one up. So we bought an Argentina flag and switched them, earning us a cape! We also bought a fair amount of paint…

We then returned to the hostel and commenced decorating ourselves. It took several hours that is all I will say. It is a bit of a travesty that we did not wind up on tv. If you check shutterfly, you will understand. We drove to the game, parked, and took the shuttle to the stadium. There were a few England fans on the shuttle who gave us grief. I would have gotten mad, but I was too excited about the game.

I imagine our walk to the stadium is how celebrities feel walking down the red carpet. Everyone gaped at us and took dozens of pictures. Everyone wanted their pictures with us! I think part of it was amazement at how we looked and part of it was amazement that I wasn’t wearing a shirt in pretty dang cold weather. It was nice talking to other Americans as well. The game was one of the most invested I have ever been at a live sporting event (save maybe Stagg bball games haha). I lost my voice during the first half. When Ghana scored the first goal only a few minutes in, I felt like I had been punched in the chest. I was stressed the entire game. When Donavon scored his PK, I felt like I could never be happier. Waiting for the start of overtime was like waiting for the results of an HIV test (maybe that’s a bad analogy). When the final whistle blew, I was devastated, not to mention freezing and a bit intoxicated after a few beers to help keep me warm. We drove to find dinner. We stopped at a place that had chicken and I got a whole chicken, four dinner rolls, fries, and a 2 liter of coke. My rationale was that I could eat some the next day, which I did. The next day, we woke up way too early, hit the road, and made it back to Lesotho. I learned something from this trip. And that is that I really like America. It took being away from it to really appreciate how awesome it is. I think my extreme disappointment at our loss is really telling to my newfound pride in my country.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Feel is heeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaa

Oh I also wanted to say that I goofed on my last post, the picture site is There was an error on the last post. Email me for the password! And the title is the slogan here for the world cup! Pretty exciting, but I am really tired of people saying feel it, it is here.

The Shortest distance between two points in Lesotho is with 20 other people and a few chickens

So as promised, the blog is being put to use more often! I am currently sitting in my rondeval. It is super super warm in my house compared to the outside. I am guessing it is about 40 degrees out but i am comfortable in a tshirt. My house is made of mud and poop (i think poop at least, it would be fitting given my child like sense of humor) with a thatched roof. i lucked out. some volunteers have tin roofs that are really cold. I was sitting here trying to think of what aspect of my life to describe here and I settled on transportation.

So the majority of people here cannot drive and do not own cars. This makes public transportation very popular. Public transport consists of "taxis." These are essentially 15 passenger vans which usually carry approx 20 people. They are very cramped. We have a competition to see who can ride in a taxi with the most people. But along with people, much luggage is shoved into these taxis. The most popular luggage items are giant bags of "ma-simba" (which are snacks that have been described as flavored packing peanuts), bags of maize meal, and cases of beer that are delivered to bars along the ride. I have ridden with kids on my lap, baby chickens clucking next to me, and even sometimes standing hunched over a row of people. One volunteer said she rode a taxi with a sheep tied up in the front.

There are two workers on the taxi, a driver and conductor. The driver drives obviously. The conductor is responsible for the opening the door (which is sometimes much harder than you would think because the taxis are not in the best shape...i have been on taxis when they get flat tires several times), collecting money, and communicating with passengers.

To get a taxi in a main town, you go to the "taxi rank" or a place where the taxis gather to leave. The taxis will sit and wait until they are full until they leave. I once waited three hours for a taxi to my site. This is a constant source of frustration because many times taxis could leave and pick up people on the way. This would make more trips for the taxis and probably more money. Grr. Haha. This is the way it has been done forever so it is not always questioned (not the only thing thats not always questioned in Lesotho).

The taxi ranks are indescribable. There are hoardes of people going to and waiting for taxis. There are many stands and shacks with people selling fruit, vegetables, socks, drinks, and much much more. The first time we were taken around the taxi rank in maseru (the capital), I was terrified. I now find the taxi ranks very entertaining. The majority of people here are extremely friendly and it is fun talking to conductors and people in the ranks. They are usually very curious about me and where I come from. I am friendly with the drivers and conductors of the taxis that go to my site. It is also fun to see what people are selling. In general, these areas are a bit dirty (trash collection doesn't exist here) and taxis aren't in the best shape because the roads here are in bad shape. The taxi to my village takes about 45 mins to an hour. 15 mins is on a paved road and the other 30-45 mins are on a rocky dirt road where the taxi averages only a few mph. And I live in the foothills, so the taxi doesn't have to go up mountains on this poor road.

Another thing about the taxis is that the usually play very loud music. There are a few staples of the music selections of the taxis. One is gospel. I like the gospel a lot. Much of Lesotho is Christian. Another is house music, but it is pretty low quality house. It is more like the same beat over and over and over again. Not too exciting. They occasionally play pop music from the States but a bit behind I think. The last type is called Famu. This music is unlike anything I had heard before coming to Lesotho. I am told it is like Basotho gangster rap. There is usually an accordian and a guy mumbling extremely quickly. I hated it at first, but it grows on me every taxi ride. I am excited to have people in the US listen to it.

Ok! So that's the gist of transport. It is a bit frustrating because it takes a long time for taxis to fill and they stop along the way to the final destination to pick up and let off passengers. This makes trips very long. Trips take 2 to 3 times as long as with a private vehicle at times. This is not a culture of punctuality. Haha. We went on a school trip and told the kids to arrive at 5am when we planned to leave at 7am.

until next time...lerato (love) from Lesotho


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Overdue is an understatement

Ok, so I bet a lot of you have thought that I was giving up on the blog thing. I know I have been more than horrendous about updating. So I am making a mid year resolution to be better at the blog. It feels like winter now here in Lesotho, so it is fitting I make this resolution. My excuse is going to be adjusting, though thats kinda bs. Ha. But I do promise more interesting things to come in the future.

So I have not had a post in to sum up a few months in a short time? At this point we are just finishing mid year exams. My maths exams are not going so well. I think my students English level is partly to blame. I have to work on more word problems next semester. I am getting much more comfortable in the classroom. The kids are used to me and can even understand that impossible American accent of mine. It is getting cold. Most of the teachers sit by the window or outside in the sun while grading papers. It is not that cold (maybe 40s at the coldest so far?) but there is no escape from it. buildings arent heated, so it is cold all the time. it hasnt bothered me that much, thanks to the members of my college apt, 41 os. we kept the house quite cold to save on heat and even refused to turn on the heat until november one year. who would have thought that would prep me for the peace corps?

highlights to this point...teaching life skills. this is just like health in the us, but is really necessary here because lesotho has the 3rd highest HIV rate in the world. the kids are super super curious. they ask all sorts of questions and it is fun to answer. tho i know that there is a good chance many of my kids may have HIV, so that makes it a bit depressing. i gave each class a jar to write questions in to keep them anonymous. question jar sir! that is their favorite phrase. school here is very different than the us, but there are many similarities. for example, kids like school for the same reasons us kids like school, to hang out with friends and play or learn what they are interested in. attendance and homework are not as strict however. i consistently have a few kids missing each day. also homework is not done at home, but during study time for 40 mins a day. this makes it difficult to prepare kids for exams that would be difficult for many kids in the us. also kids have long walks to school and chores to complete at home. i run in my village and consistently pass one of my students fetching his cows from the mountain to take them back to his property. running is a fun way to get myself out in village. many people stop to talk to me or even run with me.

another highlight was a trip i took with some other volunteers. we went to umzumbe, which is about an hour south of durban. i have now touched three oceans! it was a magical few days on the beach, relaxing at our hostel in the jungle, and hiking the orbi gorge. If you youtube search orbi gorge swing, you can see what we did.

looking ahead, school is almost out so i will be working on secondary projects. the two i am working on are a library at my school (how to get it up and running) and getting a fence for an orphan garden in my community. they grow and sell veggies to raise money to buy basic things for orphans. it is a great organization. my friend eric also had the idea of building playgrounds and putting HIV/AIDS info on the structures. if anyone has any idea how to build cheap playground equipment easily, let me know.haha.

so i know there are more stories and i promise to put them up as they happen. i am sorry for the lack of updates. visit to see pics. email me if you want the password, not that there are bad pics up, i just thought a password would be a good thing.

ok! until next time...thanks for your patience.

Adam 'Stebo' Santos

Saturday, January 16, 2010

butha buthe here i come

Hey folks! I know it has been quite some time since my last post. I am currently sitting in my rondevel which is a round house with a thatched roof that i will call home for the next two years writing this message out on my phone. Now that i am a bit more organized i can take a breath and recount the last few weeks. To end our community stay we were thrown a feast and i got to give a speech in sesotho. That was difficult because my language level is quite low. There was a lot of food and singing and dancing. It was sad leaving the village that had treated us so well. We spent the next few weeks at the training center where we had a few sessions but mostly we hung out. There was a delicious christmas dinner prepared by us. There was not that much to do since many people were not working due to the holidays. The highlights of the weeks at the training center were playing volleyball, exchanging music, walking around town, dance parties, yoga, and just getting to know many of my fellow education volunteers. We also had to pass a language test. Everyone passed! After this test i was chosen to give a speech in english at our swearing in ceremony. Much of my time was spent writing that speech. And although i sort of copied my speech from phil and michelle's wedding this summer i think it still went well. At least it was in english and not sesotho (i pity my friend kimiko who had that duty). The ceremony was very nice and it feels good to officially be a volunteer! I have been at my site for a week now and have been talking to as many people as i can. I live with a host ntate which means father. School starts monday and i will teach three maths (yes there is an s on the end as they call it maths here) and one science class. I think my classes will be around fifty students per class. That is all that i can think to say at this point about what has happened. I am eager to start teaching finally. Also i have a new address! It is adam santos pcv, qholaqhoe high school, po box 30, butha buthe 400, lesotho, southern africa. Also i was told that if you are to send a package to be vague on the customs form. Write books or education supplies on it and it will have less of a chance of getting broken into. Though most things seem to have made it ok so far. I love getting newspaper clippings, magazines, and chocolate candy hint hint. Also pictures to hang on my wall are amazing. Thanks to all that i have received so far. Up to this point i am really enjoying myself. There have been some happy times and sad times though i feel my overall experience has been a positive one. I have grown and matured immensely and i hope i can make an impact on the people of my town like i have already been impacted. That being said i do miss friends and family very much. I am thinking of you often. Thanks for all of your love and support. Until next time. Adam