Friday, May 31, 2013

The children will play!!

   I have yet to see a gaming system here.
   And it's rare to see television sets.
   Basotho children still have fun, though!
   They work with what they have.
   Case in point:

They make "stilts" out of old cans and wires:

They play with wheelbarrows:

They play with candy, like this student who made a manicure out of chewy sweets:

Children make cars from wires they get from the trash. Brilliant!

They play with the animals here:

They play with balls made from plastic bags:

And like most children all over the world, Basotho children play with dirt, mud and frolic in rain puddles:


These children are so resourceful and inventive!
I would never think to make a ball out of bags!
How genius!
But that's how the kids here are.
They may not have Play Stations but they find cute ways to play in their villages.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

R.I.P. Trader Joe's Cookie Butter:(


   Trader Joe's Cookie Butter joined the glucose gods in heaven on Saturday, May 4. I'll miss him.

   I'd like you to join me in mourning the loss of my only jar of Trader Joe's Cookie Butter.
   I finished him off with an apple on the evening of Saturday, May 4.
   He was 7-months-old. Sniff. Sniff.
   I've written about my love of Cookie Butter before. Figured I'd ship a jar to remind me of home.
   The highly addictive crushed biscuit spread was supposed to last during my entire 27-month Peace Corps service. But the glucose gods had other plans.
   Cookie Butter, also known as crack, influenced many a snack before--and during--my Peace Corps service. He spread himself thinly on many a wholegrain cracker. Made himself plenty of homes atop numerous slices of bread. And his sweetness perfectly balanced out the tartness of many a Granny Smith apple.
   Nutella had nothing on my precious Cookie Butter. Neither did peanut butter. Nor jelly.
   My taste buds, belly and Peace Corps service will never be the same without Cookie Butter. Sniff. Sniff.
   It will take time; for I will get through this heartbreaking loss. Cookie Butter will be missed like a loved one.
   But I'm sure he's resting safely in a pantry with the glucose gods in heaven; already having spread his sugary sweetness on many a slice of Angel food cake...for some devil.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Children make the best language teachers!

   The children here have been my best Sesotho language teachers.

   One weekend, my 3-year-old host brother, Katleho, came into my house to play.
   He started touching things. Picked things up. Threw things around.
   "Abuti o hampe"! (Boy is bad!) I said to him.
   "U letetsi! U leshanu!" he sharply retorted.
   Curious and surprised at his response, I asked him to repeat himself. He wouldn't. But I could tell by his tone that he had verbally fought me as hard as he could with his tart toddler tongue.
   Later on, I found out that the little boy called a liar. A liar!!! LOL!
   Although I received excellent Sesotho language training from the Peace Corps, the bana (children) have been my best teachers of Lesotho's mother tongue.
   Sesotho is one of two official languages spoken here. The other is English.
   Sesotho was created by French missionaries many years ago. Different variations of the language are spoken in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland. It has aspects like the click sounds that dominate the famous South African clicking language of Xhosa.
   And Nelson Mandela speaks Sesotho.
   It's an interesting language but I've had moments where I've struggled to grasp it.
   This is where the children have come in handy for me.
   At school, I always ask my students for Sesotho translations. Helps me get the lesson-and my message-across.
   Last week, some students were play fighting during lunch time. I told them to stop fighting. No one listened.
   I asked a few students for the Sesotho translation of "stop fighting" (Se ka loana ntoa!) and the fighting ceased.
   At home, my host siblings act as my translators and transcribers. My 14-year-old host sister, Rethabile, practices Sesotho with me when she's home from boarding school.
   We patiently read my old Peace Corps notes. She corrects my rusty pronunciations. Introduces me to new Sesotho words.
   "Hantle! (Good!)" she tells me after our lessons.
   "U bua Sesotho hantle haholo! (You speak Sesotho very well!)"
   When it comes to Basotho bana teaching me their mother tongue, Rethabile is the honey to her brother's vinegar.