Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February Hodge Podge

I have been so busy lately, I haven't been keeping up with the blogs,
and now so many things have happened I don't know what I have written
about and what I haven't so forgive me if this blog seems like a hodge
Let's talk about GLOW first. GLOW is a continuous project. Now that
TOT (Training of Trainers) has finished and was a great success we are
now moving our focus to planning for the big Camp that is in April and
at the same time also starting GLOW Clubs in our local communities. I
have been particularly busy with GLOW since I am also one of the
people responsible for writing and editing the manuals which are huge
documents that we have basically constructed from scratch. The manual
tells people the mission and objectives of GLOW, the GLOW committee
responsibilities and the TOT/ Camp planning processes, about what
happens at Camp, how to apply for camp, how to start a Club in
communities, and so on. It is basically a compilation of all the work
our committee has done over the last year and it will be what is left
here when we all return to the States. I am working on forming a Club
in my community too. The first meeting is on Friday, so I am crossing
my fingers that girls will actually show up and be interested.

Changing topics… One of my favorite things about being in Swaziland is
that it makes celebrating American events/holidays so much better and
more meaningful. 4th of July, elections, Thanksgiving, and Suberbowl
have come to be a highlight of my Swazi-American life. Superbowl was
great fun last year, and even more fun this year. We played touch
football, hung out by the pool, ate great food, and waited for the 2am
kickoff time. But right before kick-off time we had a huge
thunderstorm which cut our power for the first quarter, so we
improvised. We sat by candlelight getting updates on the game via
text messages from the States. The power came back in the second
quarter, only for New Orleans' power to go out in the third quarter, a
coincidence I thought was just too funny and ironic not to mention.
After the delay of game, it finally ended at 6am. I had a day full of
meetings planned at the office that morning and only about 10 minutes
of sleep. Totally worth it though.

Now let's skip to last weekend. I helped a fellow Volunteer with her
big project. She works primarily in the pre-schools, so she had a
4-day workshop for six of her local pre-school teachers. I helped on
two of the days. The workshop covered topics such as why pre-school
teaching was important, child development (ages and stages), lesson
planning, and behavior management. It was a great workshop. The
teachers seemed to learn a lot. My role in the workshop was just
supplementary, to help make sure everything was running smoothly:
checking with the cook to make sure lunch was set, making tea, sitting
in on sessions, helping with suggestions, questions, and
mistranslations. It was great to see all the hard work my fellow PCVs
are doing in their communities and the cumulative impact all of us
PCVs are having throughout the country.

As soon as I finished pre-school training, my next commitment was for
one of my Peace Corps duties. Last year I was selected to be a leader
for the Emergency Action Plan. Basically if there is a security risk
in the country, I am the contact person in my area of the country to
communicate messages from the office and be the point person if a
quick evacuation was deemed necessary. So we, the Wardens, come
together with our security director to talk about the Action Plan,
possible scenarios, and our roles and responsibilities throughout the
whole procedure. We also talk about what might go wrong and what to
do if that happens.

Next on the line, it's time to go back to my community. I am working
with an Adult Ed Literacy class. A while ago they pointed out that
one of the reasons they want to learn English is so that they can use
an ATM without asking for help from the attendant. So I while I was
in town I stopped in at the bank for a couple hours to ask every
question I could about banking in this country. I decided that if my
women want to learn to use an ATM then they also need to learn how to
fill out the form to open a bank account. Filling out forms is a
skill needed in many other areas of life and the forms are all written
in English, so I thought it was an important and practical issue to
talk about in class. Next, I will teach about ATMs and then how to
use their cell phones to send text messages since both of these pieces
of technology are also only in English. My form-filling lesson seemed
to go over pretty well, but the English was too advanced on those
forms for them to actually be able to fill it on their own.

Continuing... I am writing this blog write now because I am
procrastinating writing a grant proposal. I am writing a grant to
fund a workshop for the HIV support group in my community. I want the
HIV+ people in my community to better understand their disease,
understand the importance of taking their medicine, and how to help
take care of each other. I think that this workshop will be really
helpful to the people in my community. I am seeking advice from the
local clinic to help lead sessions, local HIV and development
organizations, and support group members themselves to talk about HIV.
What I have learned through this whole process (and through the
process of the last grant I wrote) is that I really dislike writing
grants. I am better at/enjoy more hands on work and not making
(bullshitting) the words to justify my communities need for an HIV
workshop, especially in the country with the highest HIV rate in the
world. I know you want to tell me that I am a simply fantastic
writer and you can't peel your eyes away from my blog, but writing is
really hard for me and it takes a long time to produce. It can take
me a whole day to write a simple two page blog. (Good thing I am a
PCV with a ton of time to kill!)

Speaking of killing, another fellow PCV killed her first chicken last
week. I have yet to be honored with the privilege of that experience.
Her friend came to visit from America and they killed a chicken
together to celebrate. (I am only telling you that because I am
jealous of her chicken killing experience.) The next day, their
chicken was completely digested and I then accompanied them and a few
other Volunteers to Hlane Game Reserve. It is the largest game
reserve in Swaziland and it is home to the only lions in Swaziland.
It was Valentine's Day and since I have no boyfriend here, we spent
the day on a game drive with the King of the Jungle and some
elephants, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes! It was a great day!

It is good to be busy and I am also finding time to enjoy myself as
well. While I am working on all of my new and on-going projects, I am
also working on figuring out what I will be doing next year when this
Peace Corps commitment is finished. I have decided that I want to
stay a third year in Swaziland with the Peace Corps. A third year
will be a lot different than the work I am currently doing. I want to
work with some handicraft organizations in Swaziland to help with
small business development, expanding their markets, and maybe even
some product development. With the help of my Peace Corps boss we
have identified some organizations that I could work with, so now I
need to get into contact with the organizations and iron out the
details. This is an exciting opportunity for me since it will be
practical work experience. I was a business major in college, after
all, and not really into health unless it had to do with sports. I
joined Peace Corps to get real world working experience and although I
feel like I have done a lot here, I don't think I have done what I
came here to do yet. I feel it would be a shame to have come this
close and not finished the whole experience and fulfilled all of my
expectations. Although I miss my American life I really think a third
year here is what is right for me right now.

Well, I am sure I am forgetting to tell you tons of awesome stories in
this mess of a blog. Maybe next time I will try not to wait so long
to fill you in. Here's to wishful thinking!