Monday, February 28, 2011


Thanks for the Oprah magazines Aunt Rebecca! My sisi's said they were "muhle kakhulu!" very beautiful!

They insisted...

And who am i to argue? ;)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hello to the New Group Invitees!! (Already?? Really??)

Hello Everyone!

Hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day! I had a great Vday and Bday in town, just hanging out those two days. It was nice and low key and a good break from site.

I heard exciting news the other day over Chinese food at the new restaurant that just opened up in town (it was a VERY exciting day). Rumor has it that the new Group 9s are coming to the Swaz on June 9. Though its still February, I’m assuming lots of them have already gotten their invitations and are Googling the Swaz like mad trying to find out as much as they can. Though if they’re like me, they won’t get their invitation until 4 weeks before they come. But I noticed on the stats of my blog (which by the way has had THREE THOUSAND views. Wow) that the traffic from the Peace Corps Journals site has increased dramatically so I’m guessing some have already started searching for blogs from Swaziland to see what their next two years will be like, I know I did. So if you are one of those people, Congrats!, can’t wait to meet you, and if you have any questions I’d be happy to help! :) But it’s weird to hear that the new group coming in 3 months. I feel like we just got here! Ha. It’s like when you become the seniors in High School, suddenly you’re the old ones and everyone looks to you for advice and asks you questions. It’ll be weird when they get here and the Group 7s who came before us start leaving. What’s even weirder is that this time next year, we’ll be the ones leaving. Crap, I better get going on my projects, I need to start packing! Don’t look now guys, but I’ll be home soon! Well I’ve got about 16 or 17 months left, but when I’ve been here 8 already, and the last three I’m not allowed to do anything but wrap things up, pack and say goodbye, time is a tickin’!

Anyway, things are still going well here. I finally started teaching Life Skills. It is going to be a bit of a struggle because they’re so young, but its fun and I enjoy it. I have a teacher helping me with the 5th graders which is good but I’m going to have to come up with some new stuff to teach them because our Life Skills curriculum is a little above them so we’ll have to see how that goes. The 6th graders are fine; one class is great, nice and well behaved (so far anyway) the other class is a bunch of punks. Usually when I’ve been in front of a class they are all so in awe or scared of me that they don’t utter a word, even when I ask a question. But this class had no problem goofing off and chatting while I was trying to teach. They’re a little older than the other class so they must have figured out I’m not going to beat them and since I don’t give out grades in this class, we’re going to have to figure something out there too… It’s a bit annoying because I was given classes at pretty awkward times. I spend all of Friday at the school, with one class in the morning and one in the afternoon. With the half hour walk to the school and the heat of the African sun, I just hang out with the secretary typing up things for them. They’re amazed at my typing skills, thank you Tanglen Elementary! And I have one half hour long class midday on Tuesdays. That is the most annoying because when people don’t start their day until 10 and finish at 2, I can’t schedule a meeting that day because of the class and it’s a half hour walk down to the school, just for a half hour class. But try to go and make use of my time there, I’m working with the schools to fill out some grants to get their libraries up and running so we can get some books donated and a librarian trained starting in November. And the English teachers and guidance counselors and science teachers (once they found out my degree) like asking me for help. The Practical Arts teachers ask for lots of help because they have a few lessons on technology. How do you explain the Internet to someone who has never used a computer? (It’s a series of tubes?) Or a fax machine? Or how does satellite TV work? Its hard enough for me to try to explain it to these teachers, but then they are expected to turn around and teach it to some 5th graders who don’t go into town, have never used a computer, seen a fax machine or Xerox machine. It’s a different set of problems you don’t usually think about.

The classes here are interesting. Failing a grade is not as uncommon as it is in the US, and most students do it many times. We went around the classroom and had everyone say their name, age and what they wanted to be when they grow up. Most of the 5th graders are around 11 or 12 and the 6th graders are between 13 and 15. It obviously gets more spread out as you get to the High School levels where people in Form 5, Grade 12, are between 17 and 24. Though lots of the kids that have to repeat multiple grades probably won’t end up reaching Form 5 and will drop out (or in some cases be told not to come back) somewhere around Grade 7. The kids have to pay for their schooling here, so it can get expensive if you have a child who keeps repeating. But the government pays for University, if you can get in, and have started paying for primary school. This year is Grade 1-3, adding a year more each year so next year Grade 4 will be free too. The government also pays for the OVCs school fees as well. In theory, it works. Get your child through high school and we’ll get them through college. But, you know.

Anyway, between Life Skills, my project, laundry and random people who want help with grants or applications or business plans of some sort, I usually have something to do every day. Which is nice. I am busy, but not exactly. I have something to do every day, which is a little tiring after the last 5 months of doing nothing at least 3 days a week. But I’m usually home by 1 at the latest every day, so naps and general lounging around are still not in short order. Today, I baked muffin/cookies in my makeshift stove oven with empty tuna cans as the tin. But after I made my first one I realized the batter was more delicious than it was when it was baked (I take after my mother I guess…) so I made about four then just ate the batter. And now I am about to turn on some West Wing, so obviously, with things picking up, life is still pretty tough for me here. ;)

Well I think that’s all I have for now, just a quick update on life. There are a few sets of parents visiting this week, which is making me VERY excited for my parents to come in three months! Can’t wait to see them again, considering the last time I saw them it was from the other side of security at the airport and they were a little fuzzy from the obnoxious amount of tears I was crying. Ha. So it’ll be good to see them again, halfway through!

But I think that is all for now, but I want to say a quick GOOD LUCK to my UMN Synchro Team at Nationals next week and a big CONGRATS to Scott and Pamela on their wedding next week as well!! Wish I could be there for both of those, but have a great time everyone!

Miss and Love you all!

Love, Megan

Friday, February 18, 2011

The World According to Megan

Yes i majored in Science not Art. So i can tell you where the continents are and how they were in Pangea and about platetechtonics, but i cannot draw them. No i cannot. It did however serve the purpose of showing the kids where the US was and that there were actually two Americas, North and South. Blew their minds. Glad i could help.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The End of Self Site-Imprisonment: Hostel Takeover and the Super Bowl

Happy almost my birthday everyone! ; )

Also, happy almost 18th birthday to my little bro and a Congrats on finishing High School as well! Another congrats to my UMN Synchro team and their amazing skate at Mids this year!! Good luck at Nationals girls, I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you!!

I am very happy to say things are continuing to move along here! My project is going very well so far, and life is moving along here in the Swaz.

Things are actually ahead of schedule for my project which is fabulous. I intended to submit the proposal for the funding for our project to the Peace Corps at the end of February. It is a large VAST as they’re called (Volunteer Activities Support and Training) so it needed to be submitted at least 3 months before the project, due to start May 30. But my counterpart and I finished it three weeks ahead of schedule and I submitted it on Friday! It was very exciting and I was very proud of myself so needless to say I was feeling pretty good this weekend. Even a packer win couldn’t bring me down! I’ve got a meeting next week with the PC office staff to discuss the project, and keep going down the path toward getting the funding. We’ve also talked with people from the various NGOs we are asking to come for our project and with the director at the clinic to lend us a nurse for the day, and everyone is very willing to help out so far so I am feeling pretty good about everything! We’re heading into town on Thursday for more meetings, so its just busy busy getting this stuff done!

I am also starting to teach Life Skills at the Primary School tomorrow! I hope. I thought I would teach last week, but it kept getting pushed back. But I finally got my schedule last Thursday and I now teach Grades 5 and 6 on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’ll be nice to have a little more of a schedule, while still having a lot of time to organize short notice meetings and impulsive trips to town. I’m a little nervous about the young age, both for material comprehension and English comprehension as well, but so far I have been impressed with the kids’ English here, so here’s hoping.

This last weekend ended a long continuous time at site for me, my own self induced site imprisonment. ;) Being in a small country like Swaziland with relatively good transport (meaning you don’t have to wait days…) makes it easy to get into town fairly often, which can be a blessing and a curse. I didn’t really plan it, but I went into town just once for a few hours since I returned from Mozambique a little over a month ago. It was good to just be at site, hang out in the community, and be productive! But with that being said, I welcomed this past weekend of Hostel Takeover and the Super Bowl with open arms. Hostel Takeover was a blast. One volunteer had the idea in November that since our All-Volunteer Conference was so fun and we all don’t usually get to see each other, we should all get together once every three or four months at a backpackers in town, just to catch up. So that was this weekend. So fun. We had a little over half the volunteers there, so it was a pretty good turn out. Then of course there was the Super Bowl. I was very excited to finally see a football game, heck anything besides soccer and cricket, for the first time in a year. But why the only football game I got to see had to be a packer game, I’ll never know. So there were about 8 of us, 7 people cheering for the packers and me, who stayed up literally ALL NIGHT watching the game, 1:30am to 5:15am. Well Steph fell asleep in the first quarter and I took my usual third quarter nap, but other than that ALL NIGHT! Ha. It was fun, but we didn’t get to see any cool commercials, just the same three ESPN commercials, as it was broadcast on ESPN International. We did however get to see Christina mess up the National Anthem and the Black Eyed Peas, Slash, and Usher at half time. But that will probably be our only American sporting event this year. At least until next Super Bowl. Unless of course the Wild/Blackhawks/Penguins go to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that is broadcast on ESPN International… Then I just might have to camp out at the backpackers for the series, sleeping during the day and watching the games all night. ; )

On another note, our trip to Cape Town is coming together quite nicely. We are meeting up with our friends from PC Lesotho that we met in Mozambique for this trip so it should be even more fun. Frankly, I am mostly just ecstatic about hitting up McDonald’s. But of course we’ll make sure to get to other places too. ; ) Trips to Table Mountain, Robben Island, and Simon’s Town for penguins are definitely on the agenda.

But before its time for Cape Town, we have our Mid Service Conference in March (Mid Service? Already?) then after Cape Town it will be time to get my health project underway before my parents come to visit in June! How exciting will that be?? Lots of stuff to look forward to coming up, which is very exciting.

Well I hope everyone is enjoying their February and the snow. At least Phil the groundhog says your winter will end early. We have translated that into an early end of summer here, which those in Lubombo are quite pleased about as well. Though me in the mountains? Not quite sure I’m ready for an early transition into winter. Though it won’t be even close to the Minnesota winter I’m used to, I hear there is frost sometimes and frankly, when inside your hut is the same temperature as it is outside, anything under 70 is pretty darn cold.

Anyway, love and miss you all! Thanks for all the birthday cards and the package(s) that I’m not sure who its from yet till I get into town next week, but whoever you are thanks!

Love, Megan