Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Multitudes Brought Hither

The Multitudes Brought Hither

People join the Peace Corps because they want to travel, they say. That was one of my motivations, definitely, but it seemed more possible before I arrived and learned about the remoteness of our site placements, the unpredictability of the taxi (mini-bus) schedules, and the expense of constantly relying on public transportation in lieu of personal vehicles.

It was starting to look like my traveling options, inside the country or out of it, would be limited to a couple weeks of vacation scattered around school holidays. Besides that, I imagined myself settling down in a rural mountain village, relying on local relationships and web browsing for entertainment.

Little did I realize how many amazing opportunities there are within a day’s ride from my front door!

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Scarcity into Plenty

Scarcity into Plenty

It was one of my self-reflective revelations, about the time I graduated college, that not everybody enjoys cooking as much as I do. For some reason it had never occurred to me before that there were alternative perspectives on the subject.

Cooking has entertained and invigorated me for many a hour, many early mornings, and several late nights, since I first learned to mix a batch of brownies for my elementary school friends. This might come as a surprise to my community here in South Africa, since they are all more or less convinced that their young American guest is incapable of cooking or at least deathly afraid of it.

It’s true that I haven’t cooked as much as I imagined I would. In my defense, my facilities are limited. My kitchen consists of a desk squeezed in the corner of my apartment, sporting two burners and an electric kettle for my appliances, with a single pan and diminutive pot as my tools. That put a kabosh on my plans for showering family and friends with goodies, but I was determined that no oven did not have to mean no baked goods ever.

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Keep Thy Household

Keep Thy Household

If you have ever traveled with me, you know that my sense of direction is, well, lacking. I can walk into a building and come back out confused: Which way did we come in?

My hapless navigating generated some laughs when we were all together during training, but I confess it gave me a feeling of trepidation when I thought ahead to finding my way around site.

The Peace Corps answer to areas where Google Maps may be faulty or non-existent is a mandatory “community mapping” assignment. This key element of integration entails a hand-drawn map with local landmarks, but also an investigation of the intangible network of relationships that make up a community.

My second week at site, I armed myself with pencil and paper, ready to try my hand at surveying. Happily for me, my host brother answered the call–he and some friends allowed me to recruit them for a tour of my new village.

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