Some of the things I’m going to post over the next month will be serious, but some are a bit more lighthearted. I’ll post two serious ones and one lighthearted one today. Remember, all of this is in no particular order of “thankfulness”.
Day 3: I am grateful to be placed at a somewhat functioning school that cares about improving itself. That being said, there are major problems at my school, and the quality of education that the learners receive is far from satisfactory. But on any given day, almost all of the teachers show up, the majority of the classes are actually taught, and educators actually do want the children to learn something. Of course, not all is perfect, or I wouldn’t be here. The difference between the school I’m at now and the school I dropped in June is that the teachers, principals, and learners actually want to improve themselves. The teachers WANT me to teach them new strategies, and then they actually put that knowledge to use. I am seeing change in my school, especially with the school garden. With my counterpart, devoted garden workers, and some training, I’ve seen the garden transformed into something I didn’t even know was possible. I’m seeing home gardens pop up in the village, using permaculture methods. And I’ve having learners get excited to work with me in the garden. I still have some days when I doubt all the work I’m doing as a PCV, but then I go to school and see a different place than it was a year ago. And it’s because the school wanted to become better, NOT because I did all the work.
Day 4: Peanut butter is an amazing thing, and I’m grateful it exists in South Africa. Furthermore, it’s plentiful and cheap!! How much better can it get? Some PCVs go two years without PB, unless parents send it. Heck, I even saw a blog named “27 Months Without Peanut Butter.” PB it amazing because it’s nutritious and delicious. I scarcely eat meat at site, for a few practical reasons, but peanut butter is a great source of protein. And when I get homesick, I can make peanut butter cookies or dip a chocolate bar in PB and call it a Reese’s PB Cup (BTW, if you want to send me some of those amazing things, I could be persuaded to name a first born child after you, as they don’t exist here-check the Mailing Info tab). This leads into a wider realm of gratefulness-access to “normal” food. I’m not subjected to months of cabbage and potatoes, like Eastern Europe PCVs in winter, or strange meat concotions. Being in a more developed country, I get to shop in grocery stores. Things like soy sauce and spices exist. Often they are expensive and considered a very rare treat, but I can get my hands of lots of things I could find in America. Of course, I frequently eat pap and unknown meat products too, just like any other PCV.
Day 5: I am very thankful for technology. I have no clue how PCVs handled it 50 years ago, or even 15 years ago. While I don’t have high-speed internet or the newest, nicest things, I do have a computer, kindle, ipod, and blackberry. The blackberry has been vital, and deserves its own post. And it’s pretty much my only for of internet access, as my USB internet modem for my computer is nearly non-functional due to the low signal in my village. My kindle means I can carry a library with me, and didn’t have to pack a ton of books. My computer lets me play movies, games, and write. And my iPod saves my sanity on long taxi rides with blaring “house music”. My service is quite different from the PCVs of yesteryear, but technology has only enriched my service, not hindered it. I can research for my school, download forms from the department, and contact other PCVs instantly for advice through BBM. And let’s be real-if I don’t help my South African counterparts understand and learn to use technology, am I really helping them? Technological knowledge is a requirement in South Africa, and I get to be part of educating the educators, allowing them to be more efficient and independent.