Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Peace Corps Service in manicure format!!

   My bosses here always tell me to find coping mechanisms for the tough days of service.
   Not a hard thing for me to do when I have a million and two bottles of nail polish in my little hut:)
   Maintaining my manicures has been a big part of my life here, so I thought it would be really cool to tell the story of my service through my manicures.
   Read on:

About two years ago, I left my career, car and loved ones in America to be an education Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho. I now live in a hut called a rondavel:

It has lots of spiders:

The experience has been so raw that I've felt naked at times:

I teach English and Life Skills to primary school students:

Some days are bright and easy peasy:

Other days leave me feeling blue:

...especially during the holiday season when I'm not around my family:(

I've definitely been on an emotional roller coaster:

But I am so grateful for this unique opportunity to serve others with all my heart:

I even still got to inhale my beloved cupcakes:

And see beautiful South African sunsets:

   Painting my nails, especially during my service, really kills two birds with one stone for me.
   It helps me to relax, since I can be a little high-strung. And it is one of my biggest coping mechanisms, behind writing, crafting and reading.
   I'm looking forward to continuing my polish passion when I step on American soil in December:)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Footage of the Student Choir (World Wise Post)

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.

Here are videos of my students practicing for Moshoeshoe's Day, which was held on March 11. Enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Footage of my students using their water pump

My students are using their brand new water pump. They helped to make it a reality by making jewelery for the school's craft project. Profits from the craft project went toward the pump.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Returning back to Lesotho

I had plenty of downtime during my recent consolidation to South Africa. While there, I was able to visit a cheetah park in Bloemfontein.

   Hot, steamy showers. Unlimited electricity. Free Internet.
   This is the life that I've lived in three different hotels during the past three weeks as part of a consolidation effort that Peace Corps recently implemented for nearly 80 volunteers serving in Lesotho.
   Instability in the country's government and military and police forces caused this action but Peace Corps is sending us back to the "Mountain Kingdom in the Sky" soon. They made the decision with the U.S. Embassy and State Department to send us back because the police force is back at work and there is an absence of problems in Maseru, the capital city. Volunteers will be on stand fast and Peace Corps and other agencies will continue to monitor the situation. They'll send more frequent security messages and communicate with volunteers more.
   I have mixed decisions about the news. God knows I'll miss the comforts of the modern world at this hotel in South Africa, but it'll be nice to be back in village and to see my host mom and my little boys.
   My emotions have been all over the place during the past three weeks. At first, I wanted to go back to America and thought the Peace Corps would send volunteers there because of all of the uncertainty in Lesotho. And I still have about two more months left to serve. They didn't send us back, though.
   Then, I wanted to go back to Lesotho because I missed my host family and friends, and the simple way of life there. I was also concerned about my friends in country. Their government is in shambles, as is their leadership. They don't have peace, something they're known for.
   But since I'm not in control, there was nothing I could do except take in some luxuries and First World comforts. I went on my very first game drive at the Maria Maroka Game Reserve, luxuriated in my first hot stone spa treatment, splurged at the mall and visited a cheetah park. I also fed my face with all kinds of grub from the hotel buffet: croissants and lasagna and lamb and stir fry and lemon tart and raspberry cheesecake.
   But remnants of Lesotho were still with me as I repeatedly wore the same clothes over and over again and hand washed my undergarments and socks in the hotel bathtub.
   Honestly, this consolidation thing wasn't so bad once I came to the realization that I couldn't control when or if I'd go back to Lesotho. I likened it to a paid vacation.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Best Books I’ve Read During My Service (Part 1)

   One of the best things about my service is that I’ve had lots of time for leisurely reading. I’ve gotten lost in many a book. Here are some of my faves (in no particular order):

-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley: 

I gained a MUCH greater appreciation for Malcolm X after reading about his life. He overcame a tragic childhood and made the best of his jail sentence to become a rock for African Americans during the civil rights era. His controversial life was a series of change; his autobiography should be a required reading for everyone.

-Discover the Power Within You by Eric Butterworth: 

This is the first book that I read which put a name to most of my spiritual views. My copy is stained with yellow highlighters because every sentence gave me an “aha” moment.

-Shanghai Girls by Lisa See: 

This was a masterfully written narrative that completely messed up my sleep cycle. It told the plight of two sisters who struggle to hold on to their Chinese identities after being sold to Americans and moving to California. What ensued was a tale of peril, assimilation and beauty. My best friend recommended this book. Great pick, girl!

-Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: 

I kept hearing Ann Patchet’s name being uttered from many a Peace Corps Volunteer. After reading Bel Canto, I see why. Patchett is somewhat of a literary goddess. Her words have wonder. Her sentences sing. Her paragraphs are praiseworthy. Her stories are splendid. I’m not an opera fan but this novel made me appreciate the genre with her awesome plot line. They say good writers read really good reading and Patchett’s book should be studied for its masterful writing.

-She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb: 

I first read this book eons ago when I was a preteen. I ate up the pages in about 2 days. Same thing happened after rereading the book some months ago. I love the main character, Delores, and the way Lamb weaves her heartbreaking story of survival and acceptance. How Lamb writes so genuinely from the perspective of a woman is beyond me.

   I lost count of how many books I’ve read during my service but these are among the ones that stood out to me.

What are some of your favorite books and what have they taught you?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Footage of Sports Practice (World Wise Post)

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.

Here's footage of my students are practicing for an upcoming sports event. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My thoughts on this attempted coup...

   Many of you have asked me about this attempted military coup that occurred earlier this month in the capital of Lesotho, Maseru. 
   It chased out the Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, and left one police officer dead and several others injured. 
   I’ve been safe and sound in sunny South Africa. And my friends and host family back in Lesotho are OK. 
   Peace Corps recently decided to send me and 80-something other volunteers to South Africa until tensions cooled between the government, military and police force in Lesotho. They’ve regularly been updating volunteers about the safety and security situation there, and have been keeping us busy through an all-volunteer conference at a nice hotel in the middle of nowhere. 
   With nearly two more months left to go in my service, my bosses found time to squeeze in my close of service conference (this is where I officially prepare to leave Lesotho to go back home to America.) It’s been nice to eat like a queen, take hot showers, have electricity and take in a nearby city, but I miss my host family dearly. I talk to them every few days or so.
   But safety always comes first. Here’s the deal: police and army were fighting because the Prime Minister closed down Parliament back in June because the country’s coalition parties were going to vote him out of office. (There had been whispers of a staged coup during that time but nothing materialized.) The police force is said to be very loyal to the PM and the army is said to support the Deputy Prime Minister, many of whom believe is behind the attempted coup. Southern African leaders have been talking to Lesotho’s leaders, especially their army head, who won’t step down. He is believed to be very aggressive and has said he won’t go out without a fight.
   Honestly, my emotions have been all over the place. When I first got the call to pack up and leave my village, I thought Peace Corps was going to send me back to America. And that’s what I packed for. I threw all my nice fabrics from Mozambique in a bag, scooped up my traditional Basotho hat and said goodbye to my host family. My host mother and I cried and hugged each other. “
   I may or may not come back,” I told her. “I honestly don’t know.”
   Hopefully, though, I’ll get to go back soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Quirky Animals I’ve Seen Here!!

   Animals are a big part of the culture here. But sometimes, I’ll come across one and see something different.
   Case in point:

-This heart-headed cow:
I had to do a double-take when I saw this heart-shaped patch of white hair on this baby because I'm blind.

-Men on donkeys:
This picture was taken on a Monday, which I think (or hope!) explains everything!

-Big Spider: 
Not what you want to see when you are in your latrine. 

-Sleepy time:

My host brother, Tsepiso, was tired from going up the mountain with this donkey. Poor baby needed a break.

What strange animals have you seen lately? Which of these is your favorite? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Footage of My students Singing (World Wise Post)

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.

Here's footage of my students singing a traditional Basotho song. Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lion, the family dog! (World Wise Post)

Lion, the family dog, loves to visit me at school. Here he is, in all of his glory. Dude wouldn't leave the school grounds!

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.

   Earlier this year, my host family got a new dog named Lion and he's quite the character. 
   The little homie just barges all up in my house without knocking or asking if he can come in.
   And he rummages through my garbage can like he pays my rent.
   Here are a few more tidbits about Lion.
Name: Lion Tsiane.

Age: Young.

Breed: No idea. If you know, please let me know.

Fave thing to do: Sniff through my garbage can.

Job: To protect and to annoy.

Fave food: Poop. No kidding. He eats the 4-year-old's poop.
   So that's Lion, the family dog.
   He irritates the heck out of me sometimes, like when I eat dinner outside and have to look at his sad puppy face. He ain't eating none of my good homemade curry, y'all!!!
   But he does protect me. He accompanies me during evening walks.
   One day, my neighbor's mutts ran up to me and Lion took the bites and scratches. My boo fought back! Just like a lion that he is.

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

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Random Musings about food!!

   Picture me climbing up the stairs, walking toward the end of the plank and I jumping off the diving board into a pool of lukewarm curry.
   Crazy, right?
   Well, sometimes food makes me go insane, especially if it’s good food or things I like to snack on.
   There are a few eateries and foodstuffs that have made me lose my marbles here in Lesotho. Here they are:

Regal Indian food:
Nothing tastes as good as Indian food in India but Regal is as good as it gets here in Lesotho.  It’s a pretty expensive restaurant for a Peace Corps stipend ($15 for a full course meal) but it’s worth it. Their mango lassi smoothie is worth diving into, too.

Ice Guava: 
OK, this is my crack cocaine in the summer time here. It’s the perfect cold treat to have on a steamy day, or any day. Or everyday. And it costs roughly 35 cents.

‘M’e Malesia’s: 
A good friend introduced me to this eatery in my camptown. For $1.50, you get all of this food: greens, rice, chicken, beets, and/or whatever’s on the menu for the day. I always leave an empty plate.

Robertson’s Wine: 
  I fell in lurve with these little box wines (judge me). They’re the perfect serving and they’re so cute. I just wanna wuv ém and hug ém and kiss all over them like they’re little wittle babiesJ.

   One day, I was in the checkout line at one of my fave stores in town and saw a display of Oreos. Oreos? Oreos! I was so excited. Don’t even eat Oreos in America but here, they made me go crazy in a way that only food can do!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Footage of Riding in a Taxi

I've written about riding in a taxi in Lesotho and here's some footage. Please don't ask me to translate what these ladies are saying. 

And here's an extra clip:

I just thought it was funny that Sonny of Cher was playing in the taxi here. Random.