Ok here—it's hard to stop laughing, or at least to be bemused by what happens on a daily basis in my new school and town. On my first day of school, we have, supposedly, a one hour orientation for the new form 1 students. This meeting started around 9, or whenever someone shows, but one hour lasted til 3pm, no lunch, no english! Why is it so long you ask? I think they're praying, that's something that happens a lot around these parts.
Day 2—with not much to do but wander around, I ask my friend Nani in the kitchen why there isn't lunch for the kids today—no water in the village, no lunch. Poor babies---I see some goats over yonder, let's get a couple and fry 'em up! Chuckle! But still, no food! Let's Pray!
Day 3—I go up to the day guard, who is a sweet old man, and I ask him if he could intercept the donkey cart to come and collect my overflowing garbage that hasn't been picked up in three weeks. No donkey carts come to the house, but I come home to many donkeys in my yard, eating my weeds. Hey donkeys—either get out or take my garbage. They do neither! My new friend, Keoki the dog, sees that his master is distressed, so he turns into a farm boy, and lo and behold, he barks them away—but I still have my garbage. So next morning, I tell the guard that on Friday, I'll wait at the house for them. Ok, it's Friday, one cart comes to pick up the garbage: “Tsepho, can you make us breakfast since we got your garbage?” “Uh, not a chance today, besides, I paid for this service, and breakfast isn't in the contract” “Well, we'll get breakfast next time.” Yeah right---whenever next time may be! Five minutes later, another donkey cart pulls up. Boy, it's really my day for garbage pick up! I try to explain to them that one other cart just came to pick the garbage up, and they are totally baffled. Fun! At least they didn't ask for breakfast! When I get to school, I'm asked why I don't have my own donkey cart, and then asked by another why I have garbage. Well, because I really don't like donkeys, and secondly, I like to eat! Tsep—you should eat different then. Sure, I'll eat porridge and cabbage everyday of my life here like you do, and once in awhile I'll slaughter a cow for protein---this will make everyone happy! Seriously, it will!
Back to day 3—walking around campus with nothing to do, I see that only some classes have teachers in them. “What's up?” “Well, we really don't know what we're doing yet”--”Oh, why's that?” “I don't know.” “Why don't you pick up where you left off last term?” “Uh, I don't know, maybe next week we'll know more.” Great, at least the kids aren't destroying the classrooms—oops--there's nothing to destroy! So then my gun ho counterpart, who is always busy with kid problems, shows me our schedule so I can shadow her doing our Life Skills classes. This is getting me really excited—so I wait for our first class---uh, no counterpart. I find her later, and she politely states someone needs to be adopted, and she has to deal with it. Hmm, in our country, the guidance counselor doesn't do adoptions. Next class, no counterpart—sorry Tsep, a student didn't have a uniform and we had to deal with this crisis. OK! Finally on Day 4 I get to observe a 20 minute Life Skills class, where the kids won't speak. Excellent! They probably didn't talk because they were in shock of actually seeing a teacher. Day 4 continues with some kids fighting. Why doesn't someone stop this? Why doesn't anyone teach so they don't fight? “We're tired!” TIRED, you just had 7 weeks off--”we're tired from last year still.” The police come for a visit to the school, but the fight has long ended, and they're just there to check on something else. I see my police friends--”Hey Tsepho, howzit.” “Great, how come you guys don't come to my house when I call you scared half to death?” “We're tired!” “Tsepho, I haven't had a day off in forever.” My oh my, if everyone's so tired, why don't they get some sleep, or go for a donkey cart ride to liven things up! OY! Let's Pray!
Day 5—Forget this school stuff, I wander to the Post Office to play on the internet, on the way daydreaming of having a cappuccino and reading the NY times in my old beloved Wildberries. Later on, I put daydreams aside, and go to a late afternoon teacher meeting. Boy, I can't wait to see how this goes! The meeting is held in a computer room with none that work, and we're all sitting behind these big archaic machines, so you can barely even see who's across from you. At least the speaker stands---this is smart! Meeting starts with praying—then we're asked to review and correct last meetings minutes. Teacher speaks wanting to correct typos in minutes on page one—VP speaks—maybe we'll be here all day if we correct typos—let's pray. Going on with the meeting agenda, someone starts to expand on a topic—VP says, we'll be here all day if we keep talking—let's pray! VP asks for help on a different topic—no response! Let's Pray! Ah, we have a new subject this term, French, yay, maybe I'll sit in on this class—whaaat---no French teacher, and the students haven't been briefed about this, but maybe they'll find us one soon---yeah right, just like they'll find me a refrig soon! “How many students should we put into the class?”—no response! Let's Pray!
As the meeting adjourns ,with a prayer of course, my counterpart tells me to have a great weekend and says we'll do lot's of work next week—yeah sure! Don't get me wrong here, the teachers are great, one is teaching me Setswana for free, one comes over my house to learn chi gong and meditation, and a few want me to try the traditional brew made around these parts. I'm not a big drinker, but sure, I'll try anything, the other day I tried a mobane worm! Disgusting! What I found out this first real week of school is that there are rules--but who knows what they are, classes are taught or not, meetings happen but nobody tells you til the last minute, or you're just magically supposed to know, and Africans know no time. Things just happen when they happen, and you just have to deal with it! No wonder the Peace Corps stresses that patience is virtue. But yay, it's Friday, and in the comfort of my new bug ridden home, with my new crazy dog, my friend Leah stopping by to tell me how happy she is that our friendship has time to get broad, and with the loudest crackling thunder in the background, I sit in gratitude for the humor around me--but I wonder if anyone knows a French teacher to import to us! Let's Pray!
P.S. I'll be in a Peace Corps training from Jan 22-31, (then I turn 55 years young on Feb. 1), so if you don't see any new posts during that time, it's because I may not have internet! Thanks to everyone who has sent me stuff from the states---but hey—it's causing a big garbage problem! Let's Pray!