Saturday, December 06, 2014

Six Months Later...

Yesterday marked my official six month anniversary of living in Lesotho. I am already stunned to realize so much time has gone by. Six months is longer than all but one contract I have had since things ended with Spirit of South Carolina. Other than one of my three contracts with Oliverian School, all of my other contracts in the last two years have been only two to four months.

I can still remember arriving in Lesotho, exhausted after a race to the finish at Oliverian School, frantic packing and finalizing, then two days of travel with seven hours of Peace Corps staging stuck in the middle. Although the fastest and most direct one available, the fifteen hour flight from New York to Johannesburg was still too long. As we stepped off our short connection to Lesotho, meeting Wendy, our amazing Country Director, I remember thinking, "Wow, this is real. I am actually here!"

Over the last six months, that feeling has remained with me. At least once a week I look around in awe and think, "Wow! I really live here!" I keep waiting for this sensation to end, for me to be less astounded by the beauty of this country and the friendliness of my villagers. To be honest, I hope that it never ends and that I will continue to be amazed by this country over the next twenty-one months of service.

It has been fun to think about some of the new experiences that the last six months have brought, such as:
  • My first time eating chicken feet or "run aways" as my host mother called them.
  • Learning and being able to communicate extensively in Sesotho, as well as scoring Intermediate High on the language placement test at the end of training. 
  • Experiencing political upheaval and the "consolidation vacation" in South Africa.
  • Planting my garden...multiple times thanks to goats and the family pig.
  • Getting to know two incredible host families and villages.
  • Working with the monthly outreach clinic in my village to weight the children under five and learning that very few are considered underweight on the UNICEF charts.
  • Meeting over 100 PCVs and Trainees and forming great relationships with many of them. 
  • Adapting to being really comfortable with significant alone time and more ambiguity in my professional life than I have ever experienced before. 
Right now, I am looking ahead stunned to think that this month brings Christmas. If it were not for the holiday related posts that fill my Facebook newsfeed, I would not believe it. This will be my first Christmas spent in a warm climate and with no family, although it will be spent with around thirty other PCVs. Thanksgiving surprised me by being festive and full despite being dramatically different from those I have celebrated with family and friends in New England and Charleston over the last decade.

I am also looking forward to my job becoming more productive and more clearly defined. Since returning from our Phase III training a week ago, it has already become more busy and I now find myself having more meetings and activities scheduled throughout the week.

Thank you for your support in this first six months! It has been an exciting period of learning and adjusting!

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You should choose as your life's work whatever feels the most like play.
-Harvey Oxenhorn