Week in Photos (06/10-13/10)

My host sister won 2nd in the province from cross country!

My host sister won 2nd in the province from cross country!

Time to get caught up in weekly photos….from the past month. Sorry!
-Jen

Some (not all) of the materials that we got at the EduPlant gardening competition!

Some (not all) of the materials that we got at the EduPlant gardening competition!

Turkey sunset.

Turkey sunset.

I've taken up a new hobby-embroidery!

I’ve taken up a new hobby-embroidery!

Letters to mail. Want some mail? Send me something and I’ll write back! See “mailing info” page!

Another beautiful African sunset.

Another beautiful African sunset.

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Random Photos

Because my wordpress app will not allow me to upload photos to my blog *sigh* I obviously haven’t posted many photos recently.  But I dug out my modem so I can post some.  Here are a few random photos from the last few weeks.

The Power of a Stick

In America, we rarely think of sticks. Maybe we toss one for the dog to fetch, or stick a marshmallow on one to roast over a fire. But a stick is a stick, and nothing more.

Sticks here mean something else. Sticks means you have power; the ability to inflect punishment and pain on a child. And sticks are very common in schools.

I had heard about corporal punishment in training, and about PCVs who joked about carrying sticks around because the kids automatically behave. (I don’t do this!!!) This post is not about corporal punishment specifically, but about the power and respect you are given if you carry a stick around.

On Monday, I was teaching Grade 6 English, as usual, and saw a kid holding a stick under the table. I ignored it for a bit, but when he started hitting kids under the table with it, I took it away and tossed it onto the teacher’s desk. This stick was a nice specimen-still a little green, about an inch in diameter, and 2-3 feet long. It could do quite a bit of damage during recess, so I was glad I confiscated it. At the end of class I grabbed my books, pen, and the stick and headed out of class.

Because sticks are used to beat kids here, even at school, I felt dirty and terrible carrying this stick from the classroom to the staffroom. When I entered the staffroom, all eyes were on me-the white women coming from class with a formidable stick. One teacher even asked me what I was doing with it, and I joked that the kids were being so naughty and I just got so angry, and pretended I was beating someone with the stick. Then I told them in all seriousness that I had taken it from a kid and was heading to throw it in the burn pile. They know my stance on corporal punishment, and they themselves don’t allow it at school.

As I walked to the burn pile, at the end of the school ground, the kids saw me with a stick, and a look of weariness and caution entered their eyes. There were no timid “Dumela, mma”s or “Hi”s from the little Foundation Phase kids…they just stopped what they were doing to see what I was going to do with the stick.

It’s upsetting that a stick has so much power to subdue kids. If I wanted to get the kids to behave, all I have to do is carry a stick to class. I don’t, because that is awful and I never want to have kids think I will hurt them. That is not ok to me.

Another example: This morning I was going to the yard tap to fetch my bathing water, keeping an eye out for the insane Mr. Turkey who keeps trying to attack me. I was running the water when he appeared out of nowhere, and would NOT let me back to my room. He kept lunging at my legs every few steps with his pointy beak, and I was shouting at him to back off. I couldn’t run to my room because I was carrying a full bucket of water. My host mom came out of the house then, to dump her bath water, and saw Mr. Turkey bullying me. She had to fend him off so I could dash into my room. She then went off to the tree and brought back a nice stick and told me to use it. Which I did. When I went to dump my bathwater, I carried it with me, and Mr. Turkey and all the chickens didn’t even follow me.

So, sticks are ok to fend of insane turkeys, but not to beat kids.

And don’t laugh about the turkey. He is huge and scary, and has a really sharp looking beak.

-Jen

Thanksgiving Photos

I had to use a hammer and screwdriver to open the green beans because there was no can opener...

I had to use a hammer and screwdriver to open the green beans because there was no can opener…

A few pictures from our SA Thanksgiving celebration!

Lorato is stuffing the turkey...yum.

Lorato is stuffing the turkey…yum.

Our dinner in progress!

Our dinner in progress!

The table set with all our delicious food. Time to dig in!

The table set with all our delicious food. Time to dig in!

Post turkey haze.

Post turkey haze.

Letsatsi la Leboga

On Thursday, Sue (Lorato) and I celebrated Thanksgiving with our principals and host parents.   Oh what an adventure that was!

Since the school year is ended and exams are in full swing, there is not a whole lot of work for us PCVs to do at school.  Essentially no classes are happening, students are studying for tests and teachers are attempting to finish up marking, assessing, and recording marks before the school year runs out.  Due to this, our principals were glad to give Lorato and I a day off to prepare an America meal for them.  Heck, they were ecstatic for Thanksgiving!

So, Lorato and I managed to get ahold of a turkey that was dead, plucked, and ready for cooking-no easy feat in a country where you often go out to your yard to find dinner.  We found a small 25kg turkey at the supermarket, and supplemented it with chicken as our meat dishes.  I discovered that South Africans do not eat turkey normally, but we will come back to that later.

We were invited to cook in Lorato’s principal’s kitchen, which was awesome.  We headed there around 8am to begin cooking for the day.  Our menu included: turkey, chicken, rice, mashed potatoes, spinach, green bean casserole, gravy, stuffing/dressing, jello salad, pumpkin pie, and apple crisp.  The day of cooking included trying to convince a dog to eat scraps, frying chicken in a stock pot, and using a hammer and screwdriver to open cans (pics in another post).  But when all was said and done, our meal was impressive, especially by PC standards.

People finally started to show up around 2:45 (we said 2pm….oh Africa) and we had everything ready to go shortly after three.  After convincing a few people to put away the paperwork so we could being, we shared our Thanksgiving.  We held hands and said a blessing, then had each person go around and say what they are thankful for.  It was incredible to hear this in a mix of Setswana and English, as one of the guys translated.  You could almost feel the cultures unite for the afternoon, and suddenly there was not thought of nationality or skin color-so cool!!

My principal had never had turkey before, so it was fun to see her try and then feel the effects of tryptophan afterwards.  She also had a glass of wine and ended up drunk/asleep throughout the afternoon!  Oh what a funny picture I have of the two of us…

We had a long discussion on dimpa and go opela…stomachs and singing.  Use your imagination and think of what a singing stomach is, and then you will understand why I was literally laughing until I had tears in my eyes.  Thankfully nobody had a singing stomach at the table. 🙂

It was truly fun to see the South Africans be put in our shoes for awhile.  For nearly five months I have been looking at various food items, wondering which utensil to use, what to eat it with, how to eat it, and whether it will taste good.  Put mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and turkey in front of a South African, and they felt the same way!  It was also nice NOT to have to worry about those things for once!

Lorato and I had the opportunity to join several other PCVs in Kuruman and have a nice dinner cooked for us at a hotel, and I thought about doing that at one point-so easy and fun to be around everyone.  But I am SO thankful I was able to share this holiday with members of my new South African family and friends, and show them how we celebrate the blessings we have been given in America.  The goal was to share a little bit of our culture, but I don’t think that really happened.  Instead, we united two cultures and became just people, friends, family.  It was an amazing experience, and there is talk of doing it next year.  However, our principals will learn to cook a turkey next year!  And Lorato and I may well learn how to kill and dress a turkey (that was another discussion that took place).

Ke a lebogile thata go nna mo Afrika Borwa le kopane batho mo skolong le legae la me.  Janoong ken a le lelapa mo Afrika Borwa. Ke itumetse THATA go ja Thanksgiving le batho mo Afrika Borwa, y re tla na le Thanksgiving ka 2012.

Go siame, ditsala tsa me.  Be thankful for everything you have.  Being in the PC has made me infinitely more thankful for the blessing in my life, but perhaps that will be another post.  This one seems to be long enough!

Go siame,

-Jen