Friday, July 25, 2008

Update, week 4 close

Hi, everybody! Well, we are halfway through training now, I will be getting a site assignment next week (for two years, The Big Deal) and a cell phone the week after, so you all will be able to call (if you feel like paying an arm and a leg to Shylocke Telecom). I bitterly regret not bringing poetry with me, I find myself missing it more than most anything else.
Today, my friend (or wife, according to Khiza), Sarah and I taught Life Skills at Nhlangano Central High School. The kids were noisy, but very polite (and some older than us; Swaziland does not care what age you are for what grade you are in). They would be juniors in High School, stateside. The lesson was on how people choose to show love and a heavy plug for either not having sex or getting tested so that you and your partner can 1) Be happy if you don't have HIV 2) Get ARVs if you do 3) Promote testing and open dialogue about HIV in Swaziland.
I don't know how much of it they'll do, but I can say that nothing bad came of it, at least. We are not working yet, but we see the pandemic chiefly in the number of funerals that happen. People are not quite chatty, but I discussed HIV with a household that had just buried someone due to TB, so I am pleased that I was able to do that, and that they were willing to talk (and also to try to get me drunk, but I declined)
I have agreed to help my host brother research colleges in America; he has good marks so maybe we can wrangle a full or partial scholarship out of somebody. We will see how it goes.
There are lots of interesting small things about life here (like the all-pie fast food joint), the repeatedly failing khumbis (minibuses) (One called The Blade crapped out on us on the way up a hill. How funny is that? It was The Blade, man, and it totally bit it. The khumbi that came to get us was called The Replacement. Not even kidding.)

Anyway, I'm running out of internet time. I hope you guys are doing well (whoever reads this thing). Take care!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hi, everybody!
We finally made it to Swaziland after an impressive 17-hour flight from JFK to Johannesburg. Some highlights:
- More mosquitoes than people boarded the plane at our one stop in Dakar, Senegal. I spent the entire time we were on the ground swatting at them. : (
- We stayed at the Southern Sun in Johannesburg, which was super-posh, but interestingly, had those weird showers with a translucent wall looking out into the room. Totally skeezy James Bond film style. Worse, you couldn't read in the bathroom after your roommate slept because the light just poured out through the wall into the room. Lame.
- The next day, we took a bus to Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland, where we stayed at Emafini Christian Centre, which is apparently in fact run by Baha'is, or so says the word on the street. It had wireless, though, which is awesome.
- A little while later, we booked it to Ngwane Teachers College, outside Nhlangano. It was about at this point that all this moving started to get REALLY IRRITATING. Training started here, which consists of daily about 2 hours of language, 2 of cross culture, and some technical or health training after lunch. They keep us pretty busy. Lunch and Dinner at Ngwane consisted of, on average:
3 kinds of starch (samp, mashed potatoes, porridge, rice, etc)
Some kind of meat stew/gravy (Swazis do not remove fat or bones, so one must be careful!)
Strangely bitter spinach.
An apple.
Not half bad, all in all.
- Finally, after a week at Ngwane we moved out to our host families, where we are now. More later; time is short and expensive at this internet cafe, which is in Manzini, where I am for volunteer shadowing. Finally, we get to see what the job is really like!! I hope everyone is doing well!