I was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, by the U.S. Ambassador of Lesotho, Matthew Harrington, on December 16th, 2015.
Our pre-service training lasted ten weeks, and I found it far more intense, and stressful, than I had anticipated.
Our schedules were jam-packed with workshops on all sorts of topics related to health, security, culture, and learning Sesotho, the language of Lesotho.
My final two weeks flew by with practice teaching grades 4 and 5, at a Catholic school, as well as our final language test, setting up our banking with Peace Corps ATM cards, shopping for pots, pans, mops, buckets, and all the necessities for moving to our new sites. Peace Corps vans dropped all 36 of us trainees off at a mall, and gave us two hours to shop and eat lunch. All of us ended up in the same store, looking for the same items.
What a hectic experience, especially as the mall had “no water,” so the restrooms were closed, and I could not get a coffee to perk me up, so my lack of caffeine migraine set in. We did not get home until dark, and I ended up packing with candlelight as my solar lights quit working.
The following morning was swearing in, and all the women in our group wore traditional Seshoeshoe dresses.
We were driven to the U.S. Ambassador’s house in our Peace Corps vans, while our host mothers, (Bo-‘M’e), and language teachers, boarded a private chartered bus. They wore their best dresses and the singing, dancing and whistling sounds were loud and festive already at 7:30 a.m.
We entered the tall black gate with security guards at the Ambassador’s house, and white tents offered shade during the ceremony, and lunch. The American flag, and the red, white and blue draped chairs, created an official setting.
Local Lesotho TV crew was there to film the Ambassador, as well as our Peace Corps Country Director, Wendy Van Damme, and the Honorary Deputy Minister, Thabang Kholumo.
The ceremony lasted two hours, and our host mothers danced and sang for us between speeches. I was so proud of one of our PCVs, Katie DuBose, who made a speech in Sesotho. She mastered the language during our ten-week course, and if only I could speak Sesotho, half as well as her, I would be able to communicate well with the Basotho.
Ambassador Harrington did the swearing-in, and we each received our official Peace Corps certificate.
A catered buffet was offered to all, and it’s amusing to see how much we PCVs appreciate a real meal, with meat and fish, after eating eggs, lentils, peanut butter and bread for weeks.
After lunch, the Ambassador allowed us to swim in his pool. I decided to chat with Wendy Van Damme, in the Ambassador’s back yard.
It was a special day for all of us, and now I’m as happy as can be at my new site where I shall be teaching English for the next two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
I shall post about my new rondavel (round) house and how I have made it cosy in my next blog post.