Fourth of July-Tsonga Style

Happy Birthday America!

Random SA/US flag display in Pretoria.  Not sure what it was, but we weren't near the Embassy or anything.

Random SA/US flag display in Pretoria. Not sure what it was, but we weren’t near the Embassy or anything.

Two years ago, I was enjoying my last day at home before I departed for two three years in Africa. I believed my family grilled out some steaks, and my sister and I enjoyed a fantastic fireworks display, as per tradition.

One year ago, I was at home for a 2.5 week visit, and once again, we had great food and great fireworks.  The holiday was much more special to me, after spending a year in another country.  And I really appreciated the awesomeness that is the US of A.

Not exactly America.

Not exactly America.

This year….I’m definitely not in America. 🙂  Another PCV has been visiting me this week, so instead of celebrating the 4th, Tumi and I have been celebrating America week.  We’ve been enjoying some delicious American food (tacos, chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, brownies, etc).  We’ve both been chattering endlessly in our American English and joking around far too much.  We’ve watched some great American movies and listened to some good music.

Tortilla making time!

Tortilla making time!

But above all, we are in Africa.  And so, with Tumi’s first visit to a Tsonga area, we’ve been doing a few uncommon Independence Day activities.  I’ve been teaching her to greet in Xitsonga, we’ve been chattering with my coworkers about differences in our culture, singing the South African national anthem, listening to African music, and today we wore our brand new Xitsonga traditional dresses.

Our traditional dresses and the staff at the Xitsavi Centre.

Our traditional dresses and the staff at the Xitsavi Centre.

 

I think almost every PCV goes home being more grateful to be an American, and all the opportunities that affords us.  While there is still poverty, suffering, and inequality in the USA, it doesn’t come close to touching the reality in Africa.  Even in tiny American towns, children can get a good education, go to college, and find a good job.  There are numerous things about my homeland that I am eternally grateful for after living abroad for two years.  While life isn’t perfect “that side”, I appreciate the life I’ve been blessed to lead in the States.

Me, Kokwani, and Tumi.

Me, Kokwani, and Tumi.

Next year at this time, I’ll be wrapping up my three year Peace Corps service, and I have no clue where I might end up.  But wherever that is, I’ll be celebrating the “land of the free and home of the brave” and I’ll be thankful to call myself an American.

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Fireworks

It was nice to be able to celebrate America’s birthday in the good ole USA, and even nicer to see the fireworks.  Here are some of the shots I took.

 

Two cute kids playing before the fireworks.

Boom!!! Fireworks are starting!

On My Way

In about 12 hours I will be heading into the Des Moines airport to begin my Peace Corps journey.  I fly to DC for 2 days of staging, and then leave on the 7th for South Africa.  Wow!  It still seems surreal, but I thinks it’s actually going to happen! 🙂

Of course I am nervous and excite, second guessing all my packing decisions.   Seems about normal.  It’s odd to be in my bedroom because all of my possessions are pretty much either in totes in my closet, or in a bag to take with me.  I realized today how much stuff I have given away in the past several months-almost all of my possessions are stowed away in an old toybox, 5 totes, and a few boxes.  I feel great to have gotten rid of so much stuff that I don’t really need-hopefully I’ll still feel this way when I come back in two years.  At any rate-it’ll be fun to unpack it all!

I was able to watch our town’s fireworks display tonight-so beautiful and reminded me of how great life is in a free country.  It’s fitting that Independence Day is my last holiday here-a last hurrah as this American heads into the unknown.  And it was great to watch the fireworks with my sister-a good tradition.

I’m not sure how much internet access I’ll have during staging and training, so it could be awhile before you hear from me again.  I’ve set my Mom up as an author though, so she’ll be able to post when I can’t.  So long for now, and I’ll be back!

-Jen