Boy, that clock sure has been ticking since I landed in this beautiful place!
Here’s an update of what I’ve been doing lately, a glimpse of what’s gone wrong and a taste what my future plans are.
I haven’t written much about work-related stuff lately, but I swear I’ve been working every day! Sometimes I get so caught up in running and working out that I neglect my writing, but not to worry, I’m committed to my work and making the most of my time here. Not much has changed work-wise; I’m still helping develop the HIV Counseling & Testing outreach program at my organization and every week we go out to different villages/areas to offer free services (HIV counseling & testing, blood sugar testing, blood pressure check, Tuberculosis screening, etc). This type of work has been extremely rewarding for me, but it also has its challenges. Sometimes there are language barriers, sometimes I get hit on/proposed to, sometimes I get people who cry, etc. It can be emotionally draining, but the rewards far outweigh the minor hindrances.
I’ve started up a couple yoga programs- one is at my gym and the other is held at my organization. The main focus is building strength, flexibility and equanimity amongst the mothers and adult women I instruct. Being a Kinesiology major, obviously I love all things related to fitness and I love opportunities where I can workout with others, share my knowledge and help cultivate healthy lifestyles. Having 7 yoga classes sprinkled throughout my weekly schedule can be taxing at times but I’m finding ways to make it work.
They tell us that our first year in country is all about developing relationships and fine-tuning ideas while the second year is where the real work begins. I am coming close to my 1 year mark and can say that even though I don’t feel I’ve made leaps and bounds towards changing the world, I have found fulfillment in the small victories and I’m looking forward to kicking off some more projects in 2015. As a community health volunteer my main focus is on HIV prevention, but any work I do relating to health promotion and education, nutrition, hygiene, fitness, healthy lifestyles and cultural exchange is acceptable in Peace Corps’ eyes. This gives me a lot of creative room to play and implement project ideas.
Peace Corps service isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and although I strive to preserve my blog for the purpose of sharing positive experiences with my loved ones back home, I wouldn’t be giving an accurate depiction of my life in rural South Africa if I didn’t include the bad with the good. There are more good days than bad, but the bad days/moments do happen. Some days I just don’t want to get out of bed, most days I know once I leave my house I’m going to be faced with uncomfortable amounts of “hey baby”, “come talk to me”, “I love you”, and “I want to marry you” from all the questionable men lurking the streets. These phrases may seem harmless but when you hear them constantly while living in a strange place and not having the secure feeling of being in your normal environment, it can be scary, it can seem threatening, and it is for sure mentally exhausting. I can try to numb myself to it but I don’t think I’ll ever reach a point where I can accept it as respectable human interaction. It’s just plain obnoxious.
I do, however, have several exciting things to look forward to in the upcoming months. In December I’m attending a Peace Corps conference in Gauteng with PCVs from all over South Africa. I’ll be spending Christmas and NYE in Cape Town with a bunch of other volunteers. Cape Town has a myriad of entertainment options and I know I’ll have plenty of time for the beach, to explore local wineries and to see the nightlife. In February one of my best friends is coming to visit from the States, we’re grouping up with some other volunteers to check out Ultra South Africa. I’ll probably lay low in March & April to focus on training for Comrades in May! Not to mention my 26th birthday, YEESH.
If my math is correct, I have something like 480 days left until my time in South Africa comes to an end. I have no idea what I’m doing yet post-Peace Corps, but I have a lot of time to figure that out. Until then, stay tuned for more adventure stories!