I’m so excited to know where I shall be teaching and living for the next two years in Lesotho. Our Peace Corps training is almost over, and I’m tired of living out of my suitcase. Starting on December 17th, after our swearing in, I can move into my own rondavel.
Our training lasts ten weeks, and I’m ready for the next move. Fortunately Peace Corps arranged for a much needed break with “showers and lots of protein” (most of us lack meat and fish as we don’t have fridges to keep our food cold.)
We stayed at Mount Maluti hotel in Mohale’s Hoek, where we attended workshops with our Principals and ILs (Introductory Liaisons.) I left the hotel with my Principal, Sister Bernadette, and my new IL, and it took us eight hours by bus, to reach my new site.
As soon as I saw my new m’e’ (host mother) Mary, I felt at home. She is 62, and has the most beautiful smile. She walked me to my rondavel, next to her house. I stepped inside my new home with sunshine-colored walls, and Mary said, “I shall do everything for you. I am so happy and blessed to have you here.” The rondavel was furnished, with a glass cabinet full of plates, bowls and glasses that Mary said I could use. She gave me new pots to cook with, and brand new bedsheets. I noticed a TV set, and was confused as there is no electricity in my rondavel. Mary said she has solar panels on her roof, and when I move in on December 17th, she would show me how to use the TV.
Mary is a widow, and a 2nd grade teacher at my new school. She is retiring in December, and wants to help me learn Sesotho. “The children have prepared a day of dancing and songs for you all day tomorrow. Everyone is so excited to meet you,” Mary said.
The 6th grade teacher couldn’t wait to meet me so she stopped by my rondavel, just as I was getting ready for bed, and said, “We are so excited to meet you. You have been sent by God, and we are so blessed.”
I feel like a celebrity here. Everyone’s excitement to meet me is not what I had expected, and I’m trying to learn about the Basotho culture which values relationships and “togetherness,” while many westerners like their “alone” time. Apparently the Basotho think that we’re depressed when we’re alone in our homes.
I slept well, and Mary’s rooster woke me up at 3:48 a.m. At 7:30 am, Mary and I walked to school. I greeted the village chief along the way. As soon as we reached the school, all the children came running down the hill to take a look at me, but were shy when I started asking them their names. High fives, seem to be the way to get them to come closer.
Mary took me to the staff room where I met the other teacher took photos of everyone. I’ve discovered that taking photos is one of the best ways to be on good terms with everyone. They love having their photo taken, plus I can place their names with their faces.
Mary drew flowers on the board, and my “Welcome ‘m’e Palesa” greeting. That’s my name in Sesotho, which means flower.
So the children danced and sang for me, and this is something the Basotho love to do. I hope to learn to flick my hips backwards, the way they do it.
Watch them dance for me.
So now you can see the teachers and children that I look forward to working with starting in January 2016.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. More about how we are celebrating our Peace Corps Thanksgiving.