With teaching practicum and our language assessment behind us, I must confess to cherishing the misapprehension that the last two weeks would be leisurely in comparison. As you might guess from the lapse since I last wrote, that was not the case.
Since my final farewell with the learners in Bundu, I have slept in three different beds. A million moments have passed, with dozens of photos attending them, but this day deserves its own recognition: Family Appreciation Day at SS Skhosana.
“We used to hire a catering company,” a staff member confided in me, “but there was never enough food. Now we do it the village way.”
The village way means slaughtering a cow, borrowing pots big enough to bathe in, and cooking from sunrise to the start of festivities at 10am.
Meanwhile my host mother was busy with her own preparations. Veteran volunteers had tipped us off weeks ago that most trainees would be ordering dresses from the local seamstresses or borrowing traditional costumes from their families, but uMama hadn’t said a word to me about it so far. I was resigned to wearing my church dress from America.
Then two nights before the big day she wowed me with a fabulous outfit, hired for the occasion!
As soon as we had fitted the cap snugly around my ears, uMama dragged me outside and presented me to anyone within hearing range: “Look! Look at my child!”
Then the ceremonies began. We celebrated our families and thanked them for adopting us with poetry, music, and — of course! — dancing:
As the final hurrah, we sang our family’s name into the mike and boogeyed on stage to pose with them:
It was a sweet time to gather as one community spanning two countries. When Peace Corps first delivered us to our families, we were jet-lagged, shell-shocked, bashful about our broken Zulu greetings. Now we found ourselves decked out by the loving hands of our mamas and gogos, jiving to South African beats, and feasting on pap and beef stew like locals.
Because of you, our families, we are.