Category: volunteering

Last Minute Glitch in Completing My Peace Corps Project

The day before the completion date of my Lesotho school renovation project, I got a phone call from my counterpart at 7 a.m. “The contractor needs you to buy 115 meters of electrical wiring.” “Why didn’t he tell me this before? We are running out of money.” “He didn’t know,” my counterpart said. “How much does it cost?” “48 Rand a meter.” I quickly calculated a total of 5,520 Rand (almost $400.) This meant we were now 15,000 Rand ($1,065) over the contractor’s initial quotation for materials, and neither the contractor nor the teachers seemed concerned Read more [...]

My Opinion on How to Get Things Done in Lesotho

My opinion on how to get things done in Lesotho is based on treating people like I'd want them to treat me. In the case of my school renovation project, it looks like the work will be completed before the scheduled date of November 28th.   How come? Because I believe in signing contracts, treating people with respect, and: paying people on time, according to our agreement.   In the U.S., projects have deadlines, and we do everything we can to meet those deadlines, because there are consequences if we don’t, like the risk of getting fired. Here in Lesotho, the work ethic is completely Read more [...]
Category: Lesotho, Peace Corps, volunteering  |  

Cultural Differences On How We Treat Dogs

    It’s tough for dog-loving people to understand why dogs are treated poorly in many parts of the world. In the comforts of our homes, we treat our pets like family. We buy them food and toys, we let them climb onto our beds, we cuddle them, we take them to parks so they can play with other dogs, we take them to the vet when they get sick, and we protect them from diseases by giving them their shots. In fact, us dog-lovers treat our dogs like a son or a daughter, and mourn their death, in some cases, more than the death of a relative. But now I live in a rural village Read more [...]

Recycling Trash to Toys

  Twice a week, I burn my trash in a small pit outside my rondavel. Tremendous guilt sets in the minute I strike the match, realizing that I’m contributing towards global warming. Each time, I’m surprised to see how easy it is to burn plastic bags and Styrofoam packaging trays. The fact that this is a big, “No-No” in many parts of the western world, with strict recycling laws, adds to my sense of wrongdoing. The problem is, I have more trash than the Basotho because I buy mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower, imported from South Africa, and packaged in Styrofoam Read more [...]

Panic Mode The Morning of My Peace Corps Presentation

To say that I was in panic mode the morning of my Peace Corps presentation is an understatement; I couldn't open any files on my computer. Fortunately my local Geek Squad came to the rescue at my local "Best Buy" store. I had not prepared or practiced my presentation, as I wanted to enjoy my holiday with my sons in San Clemente, but thanks to Julia Capizzi, the Orange County recruiter who set-up my event at Mimi's Cafe in Irvine, California, my Peace Corps presentation was well attended, and a lot of fun. I couldn't believe how many friends, and people I've met online through Read more [...]
Category: Lesotho, Peace Corps, volunteering  |  

How Do I Improve My Students’ English?

  My counterpart and I gave grade 5 the composition part of their test. We selected a picture from a book with an African boy sitting under a tree, looking at the contents of a shoe box. The scenery depicts life in rural Lesotho with typical Basotho rondavels, chickens pecking at bits of corn and other kids playing in a wheelbarrow. I am sad to say that most of the students got 0/20. Their English makes no sense, and one girl, who seemed to write really well, was simply copying the text from the book. I gave her a zero. This is an example of what I’m facing, and I really need Read more [...]

Lineo is one of the Vulnerable Children at My School

  Lineo and Sonia On the first day back to school, after a public holiday, Sister B. decides to send the vulnerable children home to collect money for a field trip to Katse Dam next month. Many students have a one and a half hour trek over the mountains to school, and now she orders them to go back home and collect the money. They’ve been reminded about the 200 rand ($14) bus fare at least ten times, and Sister is well aware that more than 60% of the children at our school are orphans and vulnerable children, so most will return empty-handed.  Only ten out of one hundred and Read more [...]

Children Debate Major Cultural Differences-Gutsy Living

As a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Lesotho, I'm discovering major cultural differences, even in the classroom. What may seem, "normal" in a school in Lesotho, would be cause for jail, in the U.S. I'm helping grade 7 prepare a debate on, “Are teachers to be blamed for the poor performance of students?” While brainstorming points on the affirmative side, one girl, Lineo, who is smart and ambitious, brought up the following points which no longer shock me, as I've heard them before. “Teachers fall in love with their students. This can lead to the poor performance of learners Read more [...]

The Orphans and Vulnerable Children Are Grateful

  When I started teaching English at my rural school in Lesotho, southern Africa, I was shocked by the state of the children’s clothing and shoes. Many had holes in their sweaters, wore shoes with their toes poking out, and some children could not afford socks or underwear. 60% of the children in my school are either orphans or vulnerable children. My immediate reaction was to write a blog post and share this with my friends around the world. I did not expect anyone to offer to send clothes or shoes, as I know how expensive shipping is from the U.S. to Lesotho. Some people ran Read more [...]

Moshoeshoe Day Celebrations: A Big Event in Lesotho

March 11th, was Moshoeshoe Day, pronounced (Moshway-shway) in Lesotho. What is it? It’s the day the Basotho commemorate the death of the country’s founder. All schools, including my small, Catholic school start preparing for this day, when school opens on January 25th, after the summer holidays—yes, we’re in the southern hemisphere here in Lesotho, southern Africa. It’s a full-day event where children from various schools participate in sporting events, and traditional songs and dances. Here’s how my first Moshoeshoe Day took place. “Are you ready to walk?” ‘M’e Read more [...]
Category: Peace Corps, People, volunteering  |