During our training, a current volunteer said “in peace corps you will have your highest highs and your lowest lows”. So far that has proven to be true, but I wasn’t prepared for them to occur in the same day. It seems like a single event can spin my day 180 degrees in a moment.
Today started off a little rocky. I’m struggling with a relationship with one of the key people in my schools and its pretty stressful. The constant harassment whenever I walk down the street was also starting to get to me. Things were fine when I got to school but since there was testing there really wasn’t anything for me to do. I know one of my schools uses corporal punishment but until today I hadn’t seen it at my other school. That changed when I walked into a classroom to see a teacher hitting a kid with a stick. My approach, while not necessarily the best, is to simply walk away. I show my disapproval by refusing to witness it. While its sad and I don’t agree with using corporal punishment (especially to the degree I’ve witnessed here) its not the reason I’m here. I’m not going to stop corporal punishment in south africa and trying to would most likely mean alienating myself from the teachers and being unable to accomplish anything meaningful.
Anyway, after my morning I was feeling pretty down about being here. I had plans to meet with the woman who runs the OVC in my community (orphans and vulnerable children center) because I need a counterpart for my training in December. The woman came to meet me at the school and immediately turned my entire day around. I’ve never met this woman before but she immediately came up to me and hugged me. Her level of enthusiasm for what she does is amazing. She started this ovc from nothing and now they have a new building that’s been donated by Pick n Pay. The children were so sweet and welcoming as I spent the afternoon with them. Many of them knew me already because they attend the schools I work at. They sang and danced and we played soccer for a bit. The best part was that about two minutes into my conversation with her, the woman who runs the ovc agreed to go to the training with me and seemed very enthusiastic about the idea of me working with her on projects.
I came home from the ovc feeling much better about my day and situation and actually started my workout routine. I’m pathetically out of shape and since I’ve signed up to run a half marathon in March, I need to start training. While my routine isn’t really conventional, I think it will help. Most of the stuff is pretty normal but I end with a ten minute dance party. Basically what that means is I dance around my room like an idiot for ten minutes. While I’m not really sure what physical benefit it has, it certainly makes me feel better.
My other big accomplishment of the day was burning my own trash for the first time. Since I live in a rural area, there’s no trash pickup. This means anything I want to throw away must be burned. Up until now my family has burned it for me, but since I have a site visit from Peace Corps tomorrow and a full bag of trash I decided to do it myself. It was actually pretty fun, although I’m sure inhaling burning plastics isn’t super great for my health. One thing about not having your trash picked up is you become very aware of how much you use and throw away. I’ve started looking at things in the store and evaluating how they’re packed because I know ill have to get rid of it somehow in the future.
On the plus side, I actually produce a very small amount of trash now. Far far less than I did in America. My water and electricity usage is also significantly lower. I walk most places and aside from burning plastics, my life is pretty earth friendly at the moment!
Well, that’s all for today. I’m trying to be better about updating so expect to hear more from me!