Monday, January 27, 2014

Tsoaing Primary School (World Wise Post)

Students at Tsoaing Primary School where I teach begin and end their days with morning and evening prayers at assembly.

This blog post is part of a series of activities that I'm doing for the Peace Corps' World Wise program. The program links Basotho and American schools through various activities such as blogs like this one and friendly letters.

    Hi kids! My name is Jennifer Jiggetts and I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer currently living and serving in the small southern African country of Lesotho.
   I've been here for nearly a year and a half now. I teach English and Life Skills to 5th and 6th graders at Tsoaing Primary School.
   The school is located on a small mountain in the shallow south of the country.
   Tsoaing has no running water or electricity but but its students continually score high on standardized tests.
   Here are some more things about Tsoaing Primary School:

-Classes here are big; the average is around 40-ish students per class. We utilize the co-teaching model so there are two teachers per class.

-Students learn about all kinds of subjects. Those subjects include Maths, English and the country's Mother Tongue of Sesotho.

-Women (and some men) from the village called "cooks" make lunch for students and teachers. Students eat cabbage, hard-boiled eggs, beans, samp (a corn dish), and papa, the country's staple food.

-Boys play morabaraba, a popular game similar to chess:

-Girls play 'mantloane, a popular game similar to "playing house:"

   So, kids, my students are just like you!
   They work hard. They play fun games. And they're smart!
   I will be posting more about our school and country soon.
   Is there anything more specific you'd like to know? Please let me know. I'd be happy to answer your questions!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

You're a Peace Corps Volunteer if (Part 3)

You're a Peace Corps Volunteer if you get strange looks when you tell Basotho you want to wait to have children. My host brothers are cute and all but I can wait to get married and have children, ya dig? 

   You thought I was going to stop, eh?
   Not with the "You Know You're a Peace Corps Volunteer if series." If you missed Parts 1 and 2, read them here and here.
   Something's always happening and I'm always adding to my list.
   Here's Part 3:

1....If you cut your grocery bill in half in order to save for vacation.
2....If you eat nothing but Ramen or eggs for months to help save for said vacation. Who needs  to eat fruit and veggies when you're trying to go to Cape Town? Or Swaziland.
3....If you've ever been awaken from a good, deep sleep by a creepy crawler of any type.
4....If your host mother gets way too excited when you ask her to help you make papa. Or meroho.
5....If your host mother gets happy if she thinks you're dating someone.
6....If your host mother gets a little too excited when she knows you're dating someone.
7....If your host mother gets sad when you tell her that you want to wait (until you're like, 40) to get married and have children.
8....If you've ever wanted to grow a hearty garden but was just too lazy to put in the work.
9....If you've ever had a baby placed on your lap while riding on public transport.
10....If you've secretly cursed the weather gods during the rainy season because you couldn't charge your solars.

   Your thoughts? Any more to add on?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Reflections on my Mid-Year Service

Living like a cave woman is not for everyone but I'm making due. One year down. One more to go!

   When I was a little girl, I used to hear grown folks say, "You don't have a bucket to piss in!" 
   I understood that statement then, but boy do I really understand it now! 
  You see, I do have a bucket to piss in because well, I piss in a bucket every single day! And let me tell you honey, it's some pretty raw shit. Pun intended. I've never had this much contact with my body waste, not even when I was in Girl Scout camp!
   I've been at my permanent site for about one year and it's been raw, real but very rewarding.
   Raw because I live like a cave woman. I also crap in a hole in the ground, better known as a pit latrine. And I bathe in the same basin and bucket that my clothes are washed in. There's no running water. Also, living with no electricity is pretty raw. There are no ratchet reality shows to look forward to so the sky is my television.
   More importantly, I'm out here in the bush of Africa and save for my BlackBerry, I'm with the core of my being, the true essence of who I really am as a person. And it can be scary to be with yourself! Alone! All my demons have come back to haunt me and I've been exorcising them one at a time. It's a very hard and scary thing to do.
   Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining here. I'm just telling you how it really is to live in the bush. All of this rawness isn't for everyone, but this is where I'm supposed to be at this very point in my life so I'll continue to press on.
   My experience has been real here because what infrastructure lies in this Third World country is just non-existent.  The school system is weak. There is NO concept of customer service at all. The lines at the bank STAY long. I used to complain (then, I learned to change my attitude about what I couldn't control!) and then I just dealt with it, like bringing a book or a magazine to the bank. It might take me two days to reach the teller but at least I'll have read a good novel!
   Being here has also been very rewarding, though.
   I didn't join the Peace Corps to save the world. That's na├»ve  and illogical thinking. I joined the Peace Corps to serve the world, since I've always had a heart for service, and to give back to those who gave back to me.
   I've gotten to do that here through teaching, after-school activities, and bonding with my host family.
      Being a Peace Corps Volunteer was my dream about four years ago, and I'm here doing exactly what I want and need to be doing at this very moment in my life.
   I have one more year left in my service and my goal is to simply enjoy this season, and to truly savor each moment, no matter how raw and real they may be.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cape Town, South Africa!

 Here I am in all my glory sitting on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

   I was very blessed to spend New Year's vacation in Cape Town, South Africa last week and let me tell you, that place is pretty epic!
   Cape Town, located in the Western part of the country, has a rich cultural history.
   The city was colonized by the Dutch and is the place where Nelson Mandela spent nearly 20 years as a political prisoner on Robben Island.
   There was so much history to be learned but also so much fun to be had.

I stayed on Long Street, the place where things get popping at night. It's busy during the day, too:

Cape Town is a bustling city. I loved this purple building, called The Purple Monkey. It's a night spot.

I visited a several nice craft markets:

I wanted two of everything I saw! I was in heaven, I tell ya!

Some parts of Cape Town reminded me of New Orleans:

This French influence was brought on by French religious refugees during the early 18th century, according to The Rough Guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Naturally, there were many beautiful Nelson Mandela tributes all around the city:

I spotted this tribute of the hero in one of the malls that wasn't far from my hostel.

I went up Table Mountain, which was voted as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World:

The scenery was just stunning! This place was heaven on earth.

Of course, I found a bead store:

I didn't do major damage like I normally do, though.

The palm trees reminded me of Miami:

What say you? Miami or Cape Town?

I went nuts for this coconut:

It was good and refreshing! I love me some fresh coconut.

One of my favorite places was the Slave Lodge:

It was one of my favorite places because it explained South Africa's complicated and painful apartheid history.

I also had a baby:

Her name was Cotton Candy. She was cute and cuddly and sweet. Pun intended:)

I was minding my business at the museum and almost got eaten by a shark:

So yeah, I survived a shark attack! LOL!

I had Ethiopian food:

I LOVE Ethiopian food!!!!! Can't even tell you what this meal did for me!!

I visited five wineries:

Wine and cheese? Yes, yes, please!

The beaches in Cape Town were to die for:

Please know that I AM about that beach life! 

I partied it up:

New Year's Eve was a madhouse!

I went to Robben Island:

This was Nelson Mandela's jail cell. He spent about 18 years at the prison and it was surreal to be here.

   I had such a good time that I'm having some serious withdrawals from my Cape Town visit.
   It's going down as my second favorite vacation, after India.
   Have you visited Cape Town?
   If so, what was your take?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dance Class (Village style!!)

 Move your body, body!! Move your body, body!! Welcome to dance class in my village!! 

   First off, Happy New Year! I hope you had a warm and fuzzy holiday season. I want to begin my new year off with song and dance! That's how it started and hopefully, that's how it will end!

   Now, I want to tell you about a daily "dance class" in my village and it's pretty cool!
   Bo-ausi (plural for young girls) teach choreographed dances to many of the children here.
   They dance to the traditional Basotho music called Famo.

   Fun is had by many!
   Case in point:

Hope you enjoy this video! (I just discovered that I can easily upload videos to my Youtube account from my Blackberry so I'll be posting more videos on my blog next year. Yay!)

And here's video of the musicians playing the traditional music of the people here, Famo:

Famo music is often heard blasting out of taxi speakers here. The backbone of this music is the accordian. Notice the make-shift drum in the video, though. I thought that was genius.

I like going to these classes because it livens up my village, which can be a little too quiet at times.
And it's nice to see my students doing something positive!