9/12: I went to an event that I thought was an awareness campaign and was encouraged to dress in traditional dress only to find out it was a micro-credit group’s monthly meeting. Duped again.
9/14: Today in GLOW club was Part 2 Honoring Your Body: Exercise. After my lesson we played some goofy relay race games and then I taught them this fun game I thought my youth group leader made up called Spud. The girls let me finish the instructions before they said they play this game all the time. Small world.
9/15: Today was a soul-crushing day for after spending an embarrassingly large amount of time planning this peer educator training I talked about on 9/9 only five people came to my informational meeting. I went so far as to submit an extremely long proposal to a group back home interested in funding this project so this basically can’t fail. To make matters worse, I gave this long, drawn-out, impassioned, soapbox worthy speech last week to the Caregivers who were delegated with bringing 1-3 charismatic youth today. Apparently, this rallying cry was met with complete and utter apathy. I usually can get at least a dozen people to show up if not just to humor me then out of pity but today was quite the exception. Will drown my sorrows in copious amounts of chocolate.
9/17: Thobi, my 11 year old host sister has been talking about her school trip to Durban, the provincial capital, for months. She had a rough week because when she went to Vryheid, the nearest White town, a few days ago, a young White girl about her age who was walking with her mother pointed to her and said, “Look Mom, that girl looks like a monkey.” Not only does Thobi not look like a monkey but is, in fact, in the running to win her elementary school’s beauty pageant this year (yes, the local elementary schools have beauty pageants).
It was her first time to experience a city and she got her hair braided and bought ‘new’ shoes off the side of the street for the occasion. When she came back today I asked her to tell me all about it. She talked about her first time in an aquarium, how there were fish that looked like snakes and bubbles and rainbows. I remember her whispering to me when I saw her off on Thursday morning that her mom gave her some pocket money so I asked what she spent it on. She started crying and said that she was mugged and the wallet her mom lent her was stolen. Now that criminal must either have no soul or just be that desperate to rob a village girl on a school trip by knife point. May his karma forever be affected.
9/20-22: I went to a fellow PCV’s site for a few days to observe her vision screening program. She’s trained people in her community to perform a basic vision test and she’s in the middle of facilitating these vision drives for 35 schools in her area. She will then refer the children with poor vision to a group of Western doctors who will come next month. Now her organization has far more resources than mine with three illiterate grannies but I still feel confident that I could replicate the basic screening she does and refer the necessary children to the local optometrist who’s agreed to see them for free. I’m excited!
9/25: Thobi, my 11 year old host sister, and I were playing cards when she asked me:
Thobi: Why do white people hate black people?
Me: Why do you think they do?
Thobi: I really don’t know.
Me: Well, I don’t think all white people hate black people. What about me, do you think I hate black people?
Me: Really, why do you think that, honey?
Thobi: Because you’re white.
Me: Well, do you think I hate you, you’re black?
Thobi: No. (Laughs).
Me: We don’t hate each other because we’re not looking on the outside; we’re looking on the inside.
Thobi: I’m glad that you don’t hate black people.
Me: I am too. Then we couldn’t be friends which would be sad.
9/27: So many people came to the second attempt at an informational meeting for my peer educational training that we ran out of chairs! And I gave my impassioned speech about an HIV free generation and people were engaged and excited. Yes!
9/29: I was asked to teach 9th grade math which is comical in and of itself seeing as though I can barely remember how to do long division, but it got even better when I talked to the math teacher and he suggested I teach during the afternoons which are designated as 'free study time,' when I inquired about a textbook and syllabus he said he doesn't use a textbook, just his brain, and the 'syllabus' is the rubric for the government's quarterly standardized test. Oh and he doesn't bother teaching anything that's worth less than 30% on the standardized test...that leaves five concepts. So when I gave them a pre-test on those five concepts they've apparently been learning since January I was mildly surprised that the average was about a 20%.
10/3: I was genuinely shocked when one of the teachers suggested they come in during their school break this week to study math and even more shocked when they agreed. So today I went there in the rain thinking optimistically that maybe 3 people would show. All but five students came and walked an average of an hour each way in the rain to come. Oh and they asked if I'd please come back tomorrow. Seriously.
10/4: My host siblings and I literally danced around my room for two hours Stepmom style, Kodak would be proud.