Monday, July 27, 2015

PST as a Busy Resource Volunteer

Between April and June, I spent four weeks involved with Pre-Service Training for the newest PCVs. The first of these was in Maseru at the Peace Corps office before the trainees arrived. The other three found me staying with a new host family in the new training village.

It was pretty demanding to spend that many weeks away from my site. My time in the village has been hectic and busy making up for these work trips. My villagers have definitely noticed my absence as villagers stop me to ask where or why I have been hiding myself.

New PCV Caitlyn wrote about me on her blog,
commenting specifically on my
Sesotho abilities.
At the same time, it was been incredibly rewarding to get to know the twenty-three trainees. They are a really great group of individuals and I am excited to spent another year connecting with them. Like my own training group, they are a diverse group, representing a variety of ages and backgrounds. Similarly, they are now spread throughout the country.

Being at PST also encouraged me to reflect back on my life since leaving PST and moving to my site. The sessions I co-lead with Peace Corps staff brought to mind new projects I can spearhead in my own community. Answering the varied questions of the trainees showed me just how comfortable I have become living in a culture and country that was once new and foreign. It forced me to realize that my 27 months here is already half over and that I am dreading the day I have to say goodbye to my community and host family.

There was one day in particular, though, that was very challenging for me. I remember well the day we received our site assignments during PST last year. The Peace Corps staff had used ropes to make a giant outline of Lesotho. As each of us was told our site, we were escorted to that part of the country. I was the fourth person to learn my site. As I stood in the northern reaches of our Lesotho, I watched my friends be escorted to a variety of places far from me. I had known that there were only a handful of sites in the North, but seeing it visually and seeing just how far away some of my closest friends would be was draining.

I was stunned to find the same feelings rushing in as we gave out the site assignments to this new group. Despite having only spent ten days with them at this point, I still found myself depressed to watch new-found friends being assigned to places I have not visited. Even though I was excited to welcome my newest Butha Buthe family members and other Northern neighbors, I could not help but be saddened by how far away some folks would be living.

One of my favorite things about being at PST, however, has been the opportunity to spend time with the fabulous Peace Corps Lesotho staff. During PST and workshops, we spend a lot of time with the staff, however, once at site our interactions are limited to phone calls and emails.

I genuinely enjoy interacting with the staff. The interactions I have had with them at PST over the last three months have highlighted my cultural and language growth over the past year. Bo-Me get so excited listening to me chat with them in Sesotho even when I make little mistakes, because I am so much better than I was during my own training. They fawn over my wearing a “Charlie” or blanket around my waist like the Basotho women do or my affinity for donning Seshoeshoe dresses.

I think the staff are impressed, amused, and even a bit annoyed at times when they start speaking Sesotho quickly between them and I chime in with an answer or opinion. Usually they only jump to speedy Sesotho when they are trying to talk about things that they do not need us PCVs to hear, so they are always a bit shocked when I chime in. But, mostly, they are amused because I talk like the people I spend the most time speaking Sesotho with: older women. They love to laugh at me as I use the slang of grandmothers instead of the slang of my peers.  

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