I am a 22 year old college graduate, born and raised in Iowa. I majored in Political Science and Spanish, with a minor in Environmental Studies. While in college I studied abroad in Mexico, which heightened my global awareness and ultimately prepared me to serve with Peace Corps. I am serving as a Resource Specialist in the Education sector in South Africa. This title is an indirect way to Peace Corps saying they have no idea what I will do.
I spent the first two years of my service working in a very rural, very isolated village in the North West province, on the border of the Kalahari Desert. I spent a few terms attempting to co-teach English to Grades 5 and 6, until I realized that I really, really do not like being a teacher. It’s a great job for some people (like my sister), but NOT for me. So I began to focus on a new passion of mine: food security through small-scale gardening. I taught garden lessons to the kids at my school, especially the Grade R (kindergarten) and facilitated a Garden Club with Grades 4, 5, and 6. I also worked with volunteers from the community who tended the school’s garden, and training people in the village on setting up sustainable home gardens. Through two years of work, my counterpart and I helped to expand the school’s garden into a truly income-generating project which also supplied food to our needy learners, and saw the creation of at least 10 home permagardens. We brought permaculture to the Kalahari Desert, and helped very needy people find better ways of growing their own food. Food security at its best.
I chose to extend as a PCV in South Africa for a third year, and in late May, I packed my bags and moved across the country. From the Kalahari Desert, I landed in one of lushest parts of the country, the lowveld area of Limpopo, which happens to be the heart of mango, banana, avocado, and citrus production. I am surrounded by trees, mountains, fruit, and Shangaan speaking people. I am spending my third year working with the Valoyi Traditional Authority Trust/Xitsavi Youth Project in a village near Tzaneen. I will be working to teach literacy through SOUNS to the preschool children, starting a garden club with the afterschool care programme, working to implement permaculture at the Mswazi Dam farm, helping HIV positive mothers start income generating gardens at the centre, working with the Fit for Life Fit for Work programme, and training people in the community about starting home permagardens that are extremely water efficient.
This blog is a way for me to share my Peace Corps experience, and archive my life as a PC volunteer. The next
two three years will be an adventure, and I invite you to follow along. If you would like to contact me, my email is jenpcv (at) gmail (dot) com.