In which Emily does a lot of smiling and waving

Khotso!

This past Thursday marked my one-week anniversary at my site. Just like they say, there are lots of ups and downs. Ups include the first baby steps on a chicken-coop building project for my school and generally making my house a home. Downs include missing the other volunteers from my group, figuring out how to charge my phone, trying to get my desk in order, and spending a lot of time waiting around for my counterpart in my room. My room is right next to the schoolyard, so whenever I venture out I get a lot of stares and a few very enthusiastic “Hellohowareyooo?”s from the children running around. Next week I start teaching Life Skills to standards 5-7. Next time hope to report on how I hold up in front of a classroom!

 

In which Emily arrives in Lesotho

Here we go – my first blog post about Peace Corps! Apologies to anyone who has been checking for an update before now. Internet access is very limited here and I decided to stow away my laptop in the PC safe for most of training. But in any case, I will try to sum up the past 10 weeks succinctly and accurately. 

June 5 we arrived at the Maseru airport, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after 16 hours of flight-time. I’ve been staying with a host family consisting of a married couple, their 17-year-old daughter, and their 5-year-old granddaughter, learning Basotho ways and cultural norms, taking language classes, and spending a lot of time looking at mountains. Everywhere you look here is a postcard-worthy view of mountains and valleys. Every person you meet greets you, even if you don’t know them and wants to know where you’ve come from, where you live, what your name is, and where you’re going. Every animal is skin-and-bones and scared to let you touch it because little kids routinely throw rocks at dogs, donkeys, and cows alike. And every meal includes papa, the staple crop which basically is mashed potatoes made from corn.

Tomorrow we swear in, meaning I’ll be a full-fledged volunteer and not a mere trainee. There will be a ceremony that will be broadcast on Lesotho TV (although hardly anyone here has TV so I don’t know who will be watching) at which I have been asked to lead the volunteers in singing the Lesotho and American national anthems, so we’ll see how that goes.

A note about the post title: I’m currently reading Don Quixote, a book which at its essence is about a well-meaning individual who blunders through encounters with others in attempts to render them assistance. Despite the fact that Don Quixote is actually completely delusional, I often identify with him in my current situation. So I’ve decided to model my blog post titles after Cervantes’s inventive chapter titles. Enjoy!