Monday, April 23, 2012

The seedlings are growing, the seedlings are growing!!

The NCP garden is looking greener and greener everyday!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

G10 Invitees

I didn't talk with any volunteers before I came. I didn't want to get too many expectations before I got there. But I did search blogs. People always tell Invitees, mostly on the PC Swaziland Facebook group, "let me know if you have any questions!!" We are always so happy to answer questions. The problem is, if you're like me, you don't have any questions. You don't know what to ask. So you search blogs for the answers to questions you didn't know you had yet. At least that's what I did.

With that in mind, I decided on the khumbi today to write out all the things I wish I'd known before I left. Hopefully in someone's frantic Googling, this helps. Maybe you're coming to Swaziland or maybe you're going somewhere else and randomly stumbled upon it. But here is a quickly thought up list of things I wish I'd known two years ago...

Most important things:

1. Take everything other volunteers say with a grain of salt. (even me!)
a. Everyone’s service is different. You live in different areas, different housing, different situations. No one, even in a country the size of Swaziland, has the same situation.
b. When volunteers get together, we like to vent. So you might not get an accurate description.
c. We also get really excited around other Americans and just talk all the time. Forgive us.

2. It’s important to make the effort. Wear the skirts, attempt the language, try the weird food. It goes an insanely long way. More than you can ever know.

3. This will be hard. You will be homesick, you will miss important events, you will be sad. But what got me through is to know that these days will happen. If you know they will come, you can get through them. Two years is a long time, but you will be surprised how fast it goes.

4. It gets cold in Africa in the winter (April to September). Bring layers and slippers.

5. Be prepared for the HIV and Gender Inequality.

6. Don’t ship with anything other than a USPS box. It will take 3 weeks for USPS flat rate boxes and FOREVER with other random boxes.

Not As Important but Still Good to Know:

7. Don’t judge Peace Corps by training. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s only a blip on your Peace Corps service. Give the rest a chance before you judge it.

8. Don’t be a site rat. There’s an idea that you’re not a good volunteer unless you’re miserable. Having been there a few times I can tell you, you are a horrible volunteer if you don’t want to be there. Do your community a favor, get out if you need to. Go to KFC, ride in an elevator, talk to an American, watch TV. You’ll come back to site a better volunteer. Trust me.

9. You will be asked to marry someone more times than you can count. Men and Women. Young and Old. It will get annoying, it will get frustrating. But it’s important to remember they don’t mean harm. They think it’s funny. If you take this sort of aggravation to heart and get upset, it will be a long two years…

10. Get your electronics insured. You probably won’t need it, but things get stolen and it saved many people in Group 9.

Things To And Not To Bring:

11. Bring your computer. No question.

12. A good idea is to bring an iPhone or Blackberry (or whatever else there is) and get it unlocked in America, ready to just put in a SIM card when you get here. Then buy a cheap phone here to use around your community, but your other phone can be for internet and What’s App. If you don’t have What’s App, download it. You can text America and fellow volunteers for free. Blackberry’s have to have a monthly data fee here, so I’d recommend an iPhone, which many volunteers have. If you don’t want to do that, you can get internet phones here as well which is what I did. Works fine, you’ll just be jealous.

13. Don’t bring anything white. Most especially socks.

14. Bring a sleeping bag, and a tent if you have it. You get discounted rates at the backpackers (hostels) if you camp.

15. Bring a large hard drive with recent movies and tv shows on it as well as your most favorite movies. We have lots of stuff except the new things. We will hound you for new things when you get here and you can gete other movies and tv shows from us. Media exchange is huge when volunteers get together.

16. Bring some good knives or have them sent.

17. Bring lots of hand sanitizer.

Things About Swaziland:

18. We have good grocery stores. As well as decent clothing stores, electronics stores, and coffee shops. Not many, not great, but they are here.

19. We are a small country so you can get around relatively easily. You can see your friends, see the game parks. You won’t be alone for two years. Unless you want to, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

20. We have some Chinese and American restaurants and a few Indian. If you like other types of food, eat lots of it while you still can. As well as good pizza.

21. The beer’s not great but its okay, and you have to search and pay handsomely for a cocktail. Enjoy both while you can.

22. You won’t be able to Skype much. This isn’t Europe, our Internet cafĂ©’s don’t have it and the Internet has its own set of issues anyway. Just FYI.

23. I think you are lucky to be posted in Swaziland.
a. You can see your friends if you want, as opposed to other places where if you’re on opposite sides of the country you won’t see them for 6 months.
b. We have good things in the towns, but the rural areas are what you think you will get in the Peace Corps, and you can get between each relatively easily.
c. We are bordered by South Africa and Mozambique, some of the best places for vacationing in Africa: the beaches of Moz and the cities of South Africa.

24. Be prepared for an awesome good time and an amazing experience.

If this triggered anything else you want to know, shoot me a comment or find me on Facebook!

If you aren't a new volunteer, I'm sorry this post wasn't interesting to you at all. I'll post a more relevant one soon!

Megan Key