Thursday, June 12, 2008

TRAINING WEEK 1 June 12, 2008

Well, I had a nicely formed report all written out but now, with my moment of internet access, I don't seem to have it with me. We have had an action-packed week jammed full of information regarding security, culture, language, policies and vaccinations. I can't believe that I am learning a new language!! The dust balls keep getting in the way of the brain circuitry so it is going to be a slow process. The trainers and staff are delightful, patient, kind and jolly. They sing in beautiful harmony to us everyday and we all sing the Sesotho National Anthem together....also the Star Spangled Banner. Probably my most poignant moment this week was when the Country Director was introducing himself to us and began with an NPR "This I Believe". He reminded me of the values and principles of the Peace Corp which has to do with promoting peace and understanding, to assist the poorer in growth and opportunity, and to promote understanding between our cultures. The original flame and desire for joining PC suddently came rushing into me. I was again feeling the idealism and heartfullness of this very big journey. It was as if time collapsed and I was once again 20 years old with this dream....and here I was actually Living it!! It was pretty overwhelming and later I explained to the Director why tears were rolling down my face as he was speaking.
The culture is much more playful than I had imagined given the info I had about the Catholic and missionary history here. The women speak very openly about their "mountains" where money is kept for safe keeping. The mountains are exposed without much self-consciousness but never never show your thighs....that is the sacred territory. And the men must keep their "animals" covered at all times also. I can't wait for the class on the Sesotho sexual practices!
We haven't been out in the world much at all as we are in classes from 8am-8pm. Some of us gather to take 6:30am walks to get in a little exercise before the long days of sitting. Maseru seems to be a place in which we need to travel in pairs and never at night. Our compound has 24/7 security guards and barb wired fences. We are receiving many instructions about how to stay safe. The village life is suppposed to be very different.
The weather has been very decent with no rain and not too cold. The days are sunny and relatively warm. I am so loving my down sleeping bag! The food is ample and it is easy to gain weight. Sesotho women are supposed to be fat as it is a sign of abundance. If people call you fat, it is a compliment.
On Sunday, we divide into three groups and go to three villages with trainers where we will be stationed for the next 2 months. This is where we will receive the true lessons in village life to include cooking, gardening, public transportation, and more language. We are all ready to roll.
I should have some email access most every weekend so will love hearing from you.