Saturday, February 22, 2014

What I Do Everyday:)

Every night, I play UNO with my host family and sometimes I get beaten by the children, who are 4 and 9 years-old. Life sucks when this happens. 

   One of the international development tools that Peace Corps Volunteers all over the world use to start projects is called a daily activity schedule.
   It's a simple tool that shows what people in a community do throughout the day. It's important because it helps volunteers to allocate resources and assign tasks.
   Essentially, it's just like a page out of your planner.
   Instead of me writing in boring paragraph form about my daily schedule, I thought I'd have a little bit of fun and put my life in a daily activity schedule format. Read on:

A Day in the Life of Jiggetts

6 a.m.: Wake up.

6:30 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze button.

7:30 a.m.: Hit snooze button again. Not a morning person.

8 a.m.: Somehow make it to school. Pretty sure I teleport there.

11 a.m.-noon: Eat lunch and go for brisk walk. Pass donkey carrying sack of maize meal on its back. Thank high heavens I'm not said donkey.

2 p.m.: Classes end. Extracurricular activities start.

4-5 p.m.: Go home. Sweep dead spiders out of house. Kill relentless flies. Cook milk and cereal for dinner.

6 p.m.: Go for evening walk. Listen to Daft Punk and Pharrell's "Get Lucky" because I'm cool like that.

7-8 p.m.: This is my "Play and Pray" hour. Play UNO with host family. Get beaten by 4-year-old. And 9-year-old. I officially suck at life. Pray with host family.

8-10 p.m.: Bathe. Paint penguins on nails. Penguins are cute.

10 p.m.-midnight: Count sheep. Fall asleep.

   Now, you must be asking when do I teach and work on my projects.
   Of course I teach the kids and work extra, super hard to promote the Peace Corps' mission of world peace and friendship through my projects and secondary activities.
   I ain't out here wasting your taxpayer dollars, alright now?
  But I am also for having a little bit of fun all throughout the day, OK? 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wacky, Weird, Wild Weather

   The best way to describe the weather here is bipolar.
   One minute, it's raining.
   The other, it's hailing.
   Typically, Lesotho has the four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter.
   Spring, which lasts from September through November, is nice.
   Summer is (HELL!!!) hot, and lasts from December through February.
   Fall (March through May) is cool and winter is frigid. Winter runs from June through August, when it's hot in America! It gets very dusty and windy during the time.
   We usually go to spells of drought, too. My district, Mafeteng has some of the worst drought in the country.
   But when it rains, your cup will overflow with water. The rainy season starts around October/November and lasts for a few months.
   The air here also gets very dry, which wrecks havoc on my skin and nails. I have to use thick body creams, mixed with glycerin and petroleum jelly to properly moisturize my body.
   The weather really affects life here. I can't charge my solar when it rains. If we're in the midst of a severe drought, my host mother's borehole won't have any water in it.
   I don't sweep my house during the windy season, which lasts from around August until September.
   And food spoils fast during the summertime and lasts longer during the cold months.

Here are some visuals of Mother Nature at work here:

Rain or shine...

Not sure what's going on here. When I was a little girl and it was raining and the sun was out at the same time, my mother used to say, "The devil's beating his wife." So that's what's going on here in this picture. OK? LOL.

Rain, rain, go away...

The Basotho don't mind the rain, as this is an agricultural society, and rain is saluted in the national anthem. But when it heavily rains like this, many parents either won't send their children to school, or my school will send students home early because the kids have to climb mountains and hills to get to their villages. Notice the hail towards the bottom of the photo.

It also gets very dusty:

Toto, are we in Kansas or Africa? This dust is one of the reasons why I cut my locs off!

   My favorite season is summer because I'm built and made for the tropics, lol.
   I'm dam near dead in the wintertime, though. It's just too darn cold to do anything. And the cold wouldn't be so bad, but there's no central heating here like there is in America.
   I have to wear my big coat when I teach and I dress in like three layers.
   Oh well. So goes the weather in Lesotho.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Lesson On Lesotho (World Wise post)

Lesotho is known for its beautiful landscape and breathtaking mountains.

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! I hope you're doing well! My students are in the process of writing friendly letters to those of you who requested them so stay tuned!
    In the meantime, I'd like to talk about my country of service, Lesotho. Lesotho is a small country of about 1.8 million people.
   It is geographically surrounded by South Africa. There are ten districts in Lesotho. Tsoaing Primary School is located in the Mafeteng district, which is located in what is considered the southern part of the country.
   Lesotho is sometimes called the "Switzerland of Africa" because it gets so cold during the wintertime.
   The country is also known for its gorgeous mountain ranges. And the Basotho are famous for their beautiful blankets.
   Lesotho is a breathtaking country!

    Is there anything more specific you'd like to know? Please let me know. I'd be happy to answer your questions.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Learn and speak Sesotho!

I've mentioned this before and will say it again, the children have been my best Sesotho teachers.

   Dumela! That's hello in Sesotho, the language spoken by the Basotho people in Lesotho.
   During Pre-Service Training, I was ensconced (love that word!) in Sesotho every morning and afternoon.
   I had two great Sesotho teachers who taught me the basics of the language.
   Sesotho was formed by French missionaries and different variations of it are spoken in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland. Nelson Mandela spoke Sesotho.
   It's a nice language and not too difficult to learn. I'm no Sesotho scholar but can converse with my villagers and get in and out of situations.
   Knowing the language is so important because speaking, especially greeting people, is vital to life here. The Basotho will think you're crazy if you don't greet them.
   Here are some Sesotho basics:

-Dumela (Doo-mel-ah): Hello.
-U phela joang? (U pe-lah jwong?): How are you?
-Ke phela hantle. (Kay pe-lah hant-lay). I am well.
-Ntate (In-tah-tay): Father/Man/Married man
-'M'e (MM-May): Mother/Woman/Married woman
-Ausi (Ah-oo-si): Sister/Young woman/Unmarried woman/Girl
-Abuti (Ah-boo-ti): Brother/Young man/Unmarried man/Boy

   As stated previously, my Sesotho is functional. I do speak it mainly in the village and I have to speak bits and pieces of it in school because some of my students don't know English.
   At home, I sometimes speak Sesotho with my host family because my host mother and host sister speak perfect English.
   Sometimes my host mother will speak in scholarly Sesotho, though, and I'll say, "U reng?"
   That's Sesotho for "What did you say?"

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Being African American in Lesotho

Posing with some friends in the village. I've done a really good job in integrating in my community. It helps that I'm African American because it's created a natural kinship with the Basotho. 

   When I first visited my school, Tsoaing Primary in Mafeteng, I initially received a warm welcome from students.
   They smiled. Cheered. Sang for me.
   My principal told them that I'd be their new teacher, and that I was not a lekhooa (foreigner/white person).
She asked me to speak to the kids.
   "I am happy that I will be teaching you soon," I told the sea of bright, beaming faces. "I'm really looking forward to teaching here."
   The students then erupted in a sea of laughter.
I stood there confused and horrified. Was it what I said? My clothes? Was there a buggar on my nose?
   I wanted to cry.
   My principal rushed up to me and told me that the students hadn't been exposed to any other African Americans.
   My voice was foreign to them, she said. Real funny.
   She smiled and patted me on the back.
   "Don't worry," she said. "They'll eventually get used to you."
   And they did.
   But this has been my experience of being an African American or black woman who lives in Lesotho.
   I'm slightly misunderstood but somewhat accepted because I'm black.
   I get lots of "You're a Mosotho!" or "You're one of us!" and I take these as compliments, because, well, I do look like the people here.
   Some Basotho also have problems with the terms African American and black. I use both terms interchangeably but others have personal preferences.
   Language has also played a big role in my experience here.
   No matter where I am, people speak scholarly Sesotho to me. Even if they know I'm not a Mosotho, they'll continue to talk in the mother tongue because I'm African American.
   My Sesotho is much better today than it was a year ago, so I try to communicate with them as best as I can.
   My experience here really blossomed in October, when I cut my dred locs off.
   The villagers were surprised when they first saw my shorn look.
   They wanted to know what happened to my long, luscious locs, and more importantly, why did I cut them off?
   "Ke Mosotho hona joale," I'd joke with them. "Ke dula ka Lesotho." (I'm a Mosotho now. I live in Lesotho.)
   Since then, I've gotten wider, warmer smiles from my neighbors. Even the lunch ladies scoop an extra mountain of papa in my lunchbox.
   My hair--or lack thereof--has definitely helped to create my strongest bond with the Basotho.    They misunderstood why I cut my hair but they've accepted my short 'do as a part of my experience in their country.

Note: This blog post was also published in my country newsletter this month.