Sanibonani (I see y’all or hey y’all in isiZulu)!
It is great to be back. As of March 30, 2015 you can officially call me a Peace Corps Volunteer!
Technically I was classified as a trainee for the past few months, but even if you incorrectly called me a “volunteer” in the past few months, I don’t think Peace Corps monitors their terminology use with friends and family. I am so proud of myself and my cohort, including the 2 trainees who decided to do what works for them and not continue with Peace Corps. It is not an easy decision to make, and since they still came to South Africa I will always consider them as part of SA 31.
After an awesome supervisors workshop near Durban where I experienced the delightful and warm Indian Ocean for the first time, I am at my site (ironically the site I visited back in 2013 that encouraged me to apply for Peace Corps…funny how life works) about to start my first full week of work. My site is in a beautiful valley within a Zulu tribal area near the Drakensburg. I anticipate many hiking opportunities in my future and love being spoiled by the mountain views each day.
As for my work tasks, I am busy. Since one of our staff members is out for medical reasons I have hit the ground running with service! Day 1 I was entering data (or case notes) as part of the requirements for membership to the national hospice association I also assisted with several clinics and an educational session my organization facilitated…and I have just been here a week!
It is also integration period aka lockdown. This means that with the exception of my cluster (the two volunteers I share a shopping town with), I must remain in my initial community until In Service Training (IST) in July. During this time I will try to complete a community needs assessment and start to help with the upcoming transition since the response volunteer I am replacing leaves in June. I spent my Easter holiday (which is also a South African holiday) creating a plan for the assessment Also, I did not place as well as Peace Corps (or I) would have liked in my final isiZulu exam so I have to retest at IST and start studying. Although I am frustrated with my progress, I am looking at the situation as a challenge and learning experience. IsiZulu is an intricate and vivacious language that I want to speak well. I think the integration period will help my isiZulu problems immensely.
I will also start to update the pages of the blog and share posts I typed during my homestay in the-Bush (my pseudonym for my training village, it directly translates to “the Bush” in English). There will be several posts coming in the next week and a half and I apologize in advance if it gets overwhelming. I am just so excited to share South Africa with y’all!
All the best,
Katey-Red, PCV Extraordinaire!
PS: There is a new mailing address for my new home in the ‘Berg under my Contact Tab.