Saturday gratitude: Extension and other wonderful things

I have been in a funk lately over the ever-continuing disappointment in my site and staff not following up on my requests for help. I have spent so much time reading in my hut recently that even one of my elder host brothers who never talks to me asked if I was hiding from the family.

So I am reusing my PCV blogger friend April’s idea (check out her awesome blog at Hello from Kosovo) for a weekly gratitude post as a way to get my mind back into a more positive mindset, especially when I do have exciting news.

In February I applied to extend my Peace Corps service in Swaziland with an NGO in town. I found out last week that my application was approved, so I will be working on behavior change communications at PSI in Mbabane. You can check out PSI Swaziland’s website here, and I will post more about what my extension will be like later. I should start work in August or September.

Also this week I finally had two successful English club lessons. We have been discussing poetry for nearly two months, and this week we started writing our own poems. A handful of my 40 students finished their poems on Thursday and they did a spectacular job. I cannot wait to write more about this project once we are finished!

If you remember me writing about one of my students last year who was struggling to pay his school fees, he missed about a month of this first term while he was in South Africa organizing money. He’s been back at school for three weeks, and he was just awarded the position of head boy! Each grade has a male and female prefect who are responsible for attendance, behavior, and cleanliness of the students in their grade. The head boy and head girl are responsible for all of the students and prefects. There’s no class president here, so these are the highest positions available to students.

Baking for the week

  • I took a chocolate cake to a meeting about the upcoming GLOW camp.
  • Today I made carrot cake and gingerbread cookies for two birthdays on my homestead.

Media consumption for the week

  • Among Flowers, a short travel narrative about a trip to Nepal to collect seeds by Jamaica Kincaid.
  • Felicity by Mary Oliver, which is one of this month’s book club books and is a short collection of poems. I really enjoyed this collection.
  • The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh is our other book club book. I read a quarter of this play and disliked it so much I can’t finish it.
  • I started Nine African Stories by Doris Lessing. This was recommended to me, and I found it in my school’s library. Its title is a misnomer. It should be called Nine Colonizer Stories (that take place in Southern Rhodesia). I thought these stories would be more like Cry, the Beloved Country (a book written by a white man about a Xhosa story that is well regarded), but they are patriarchal stories about the English settlers in what is now Zimbabwe. Race issues brought on by colonization are exploding right now in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and I don’t have a taste for these stories that make no apology. I will finish them anyway.
  • I also started Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton. I bought the music from the musical Hamilton a few months ago. Like many Americans, I knew little about this founding father, and this musical made me want to learn more.
  • My younger bhuti and I watched How to Train Your Dragon 2. We started Mrs. Doubtfire and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but he had seen those before. We tried 42-The Jackie Robinson Story, which he didn’t like, and finally settled on Puss in Boots.
  • I watched a few episodes of Outlander and The Handmaid’s Tale and a German movie called Liebe mich!.
  • I am listening to Sands and Bholoja, two of Swaziland’s more famous musicians, as I write this.
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