Because of the size of South Africa, training groups (cohorts) don’t always mix much with other training groups. My cohort is SA24, and currently in country are PCVs from SA22, SA23, and SA25, along with a handful of SA20 and SA21. In about a month, SA26 will arrive, and SA22 will be leaving by September. But at any given time, there are 4 SA cohorts. You would think there’s a lot of opportunity to mix cohorts and meet volunteers from different groups, but for a few reasons that doesn’t always happen.
During PST, PCVs gain a close bond with other PCVs in their cohort, and during the first 3 months at site, we are not allowed to travel. Around half of us are in North West or Northern Cape, and besides 3 PCVs, only SA24s are stationed in those provinces. So half of us couldn’t meet up with other PCV cohorts, even if we wanted. The ones in Limpopo have other cohorts around, but are still clustered around shopping towns of SA24 PCVs. So for our first 5 months in country, we had few opportunities to meet PCVs from other cohorts.
This week, at Warden Training, I’ve been lucky to meet and get to know a few PCVs from other cohorts, and it’s been wonderful. Thought we are different “ages” in PC/in different points of our service, we can easily relate to each other and there is a camaraderie between us naturally that is kind of rare. PCVs are a unique breed. It’s been fun learning from them, swapping stories, and catching up on all manner of PCV gossip. It’s been the first time that I’ve been able to mix with other cohorts much, and it’s been a lot of fun. I wish SA was a bit more like other countries where PCVs from different cohorts were able to hand out more, but SA is a huge country and has 150-200 PCVs at any given time. We get new training groups in twice a year, so things are always happening and changing. SA has a crazy high ET rate, which means “older” cohorts are often dwindling in size. And as there are two different programs, SCRP and CHOP, there are two pretty different sets of PCVs and projects going on.
But when we can get together, it’s a blast. And I get to learn new things about PTA from the older training cohorts. 🙂
I’m just leaving all these acronyms for you to figure out. At training today, there was a slide that had CD, PCMO, PCV, OMS, RSO, PCSSO, and CIRS on it…and I knew almost all of them. By the end of my service, I’ll be set to work in the government!