Saturday, October 27, 2007

Banyana Banyana

So last week, I had my first practice with my new girls soccer team at my primary school.
Here they are:

They are going to be KILLER!!!!!
Who they'll destroy ... I have no idea. There probably isn't another girls team around for miles and miles. But perhaps I will start one up at my other school, too. Then no matter who wins, I win!

As a result of never ever playing organized soccer and probably only touching the ball a few times, they're a bit lacking in skill. What they lack in skill, however, they make up for in BRUTALITY!!!!!! (I mean that in a good way, of course.)
These girls. I have never seen little girls go into tackles like these ones. It's really exciting.
At the first practice, we had a pretty large audience of students from the school. There were over a hundred kids out there watching the practice- cheering them on from the sidelines. I was smiling the entire practice.
There was a slightly smaller crowd this time, but it was still pretty substantial. About the equivalent of some of my college games ... I haven't really decided how I feel about that.

Anyway. They have a lot of potential, and it is obvious that they want to be there and work hard. I was late to practice this week and the girls were already out there warming up. It was only the second practice and they're already on top of it!

On a totally unrelated note, there are probably 20+ flies flying around my room right now. It's driving my a little bit crazy. I'm thinking it's time to break out the DOOM Super (the slightly faster killing, slightly more humane line of DOOM.)

I guess I'll close this up with an action shot from this week:

Oh and as a final thought- if anyone reading this happens to have any extra soccer balls, pennies, cones, etc. that they're willing to part with, I think my girls and I would be more than happy to take them off of your hands ...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some pictures for my father

So, my dad has asked me to post some pictures. Well, fine. I'll do it. I hope you feel special, dad.

I suppose it is appropriate to start off with this picture of me looking awkward. It is appropriate because I more or less operate in a perpetual state of awkward. It's not so bad anymore- I've come to terms with it, and being awkward is just kinda normal now.


This picture was taken at my principal's brother's funeral, while I was being introduced to 200+ funeral attendees. I don't even need to tell you about how uncomfortable I felt up there while they talked about me for 20 minutes (did I mention I was at a funeral?) because you can see it pretty clearly on my face. I believe that at this point in the speech my principal is warning the men not to ask me to be their girlfriend.
While I was on my site visit seeing my permanent site for the first time, my principal's older brother died. So for my first weekend there, I attended a funeral. This was not the first funeral that I've been to here, and I know that this wont be the last one that I attend during my service. Death is so common around here, and funerals are a time for the community to come together. As with every event here, there was much beautiful singing. Again, as with every event here, there was much preaching.

For the funeral, they slaughtered a cow. Here are the men cutting her up! I'll link it, just because it is not 100% pleasant:
Men cutting up cow

I don't want to talk about funerals anymore. I hate them. Moving on.

Now we come to a picture of me with my best friend here, Erin aka Refilwe:

As you can maybe see in this picture, Erin is more or less 100% Irish Catholic. Over here, however, she's considered "coloured."
We decided she earned this classification because of her textured hair.

If you're not familiar with South Africa and the race classifications, here's a break down:
There are four races- white, black, Indian and coloured. Oh, and then there is "China," but I think they fit under coloured? I haven't quite figured it out. It's a bit of a catch-all category? Ultimately, it seems to be pretty arbitrary.

It was especially screwed up under the Apartheid when people were separated into groups according to race. If you so much looked like you had any mixed ancestry, you'd often be removed from your family and relocated to a coloured section.
Listening to some of the stories are mind-blowing. I might be a bit fuzzy on the details, but apparently they had some tests to determine whether or not you were considered coloured. One of those tests was if they stuck a pencil in your hair and it stayed, you were considered black; if it fell out, you were coloured. I can hardly imagine the idea of your entire life being determined by whether or not a pencil stayed in your hair ... completely absurd.

Anyway, onto a more pleasant subject- the children!
Children are pretty amazing, regardless of which continent you're on. With that being said, I will just post some pictures of children!

Starting with my host brother from my training site. Here he is as an 'old man.' He took some feathers from a duster for his beard.

He's a silly dude, constantly entertaining- singing, dancing, acting. I have some really great footage of him doing his old man dance, but alas, it takes too long to upload.

Then we come to the children at school. Here they are, all lined up for morning assembly. They sing and pray in the morning, and it's really quite beautiful. Of course, there's still a level of discomfort for me when it comes to the praying at school, but what're you gonna do.

Here are some children from my second schools, after they surrounded me. They do that sometimes. Flock to me.

And now for some pictures of some children around my hood.

We have a group of girls that come over to our yard a few times a week to pick mulberries from our mulberry tree.

Okay, I think that'll do.
Hope you're happy now!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Brace yourself, this is going to be a long one.

So long in fact, that I am going to give an overview here of the things I will cover:
- The amazing stew I made, and the implications of said stew
- The cow that I saw give birth
- The soccer that I played yesterday
- A long overdue job description

So without further adieu, I will start with my amazing stew. Hah.

I have a new recipe. It's unbelievable. I wont bore you with the details about how good it tasted and how it was basically a spiritual experience eating it. No, no, I wont do that.
I only bring it up because I felt I had to tell someone. I can't tell anyone here in my village. I can't tell them, because it will only make them want me to marry them/their brother/their son even more! No! If they knew what I was capable of in the kitchen ... it would just break their hearts to know what my future holds- to know that I am going to live alone for the rest of my life (that's if you don't count the 14 cats.)
I tell you what, though- had they known, they may very well have changed my name again- I wonder what the Setswana word for "culinary genius" is?

Moving on, I saw a cow give birth. She's outside eating the placenta right now, and the calf is all wobbly. The whole scene is pretty charming, minus the slime. The slime's kinda gross. What do you say to that, Uncle Allen? Does it bring you back to the farm?

OKAY. NOW. SOCCER. I finally played in my new village.
Let me tell you about why I think that it was divine intervention that brought me here to Setlagole.

I have a soccer field here in my village.
Not only a field, but a stadium. I have a stadium.
The field has grass on it.
The goals have nets.

Just let that sink in for a couple of seconds.

Has it sunk in yet?

Maybe that doesn't really strike you as unusual, but let me give you a description of a typical rural South African field:
A large open patch of dirt, rocks and cow/goat/dog droppings. Sometimes there are goals, but there are NEVER nets. And there is never grass, but instead there are bushes with thorns on it that are about 2 inches long.
Of course, not all the fields are unkempt. Many fields are nice, decently level dirt with few rocks. Regardless, they are no where near the quality that I have here! I feel so privileged.
Anyway, I played yesterday for the first time. I showed up and learned that it was the teachers of the local high school playing the police station of Delereyville, a nearby town. There are games every Wednesday. Of course, the players are all men. Women rarely play soccer here- they play netball, which is a kind of variation on basketball. So when I asked them if I could play, they were highly amused.

"You play soccer, eh? Heh heh heh. You're going to play on our team, eh? Heh heh heh ..."

I ended up playing outside half, my very worst position, and the one I hate the most! The game was paused at one point, due to the heavy rain and then eventual hail- but resumed with hilarious results. The puddles made the game absolutely unpredictable.
I didn't show extremely well, but I could hang. They were pleasantly surprised and even invited me back. Hopefully, by the time that the novelty of this white chick playing soccer with them wears off, I'll be in shape and have my touch back so that I will be a welcome addition anyway!

I just decided that I don't want to type up my job description right now. It's too long and Generations is about to come on.
For those of you who don't know what Generations is, it is the best/worst soap opera you will ever watch. It is very popular and extremely addicting.
I have to keep my priorities, you know.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Children's Games

Let me teach you a game that the children play here. It's really easy, but I am not entirely sure how much fun it actually is.
Okay. The name of the game is "Watch Megan Work."
All you have to do is sit down (or stand up) in relative proximity to me. Make sure that I am deep in the middle of a project, or trying to clean/organize my living space.
Next: watch.
While you watch, you can giggle and talk to your friends, but that is entirely optional. There is no actual point, it's all about style.

This game can be played with 1 to 15 people. Actually, I'm sure it can be more (and I am sure I will find out soon,) but 15 was the maximum number of players I had playing today. The average game lasts about 15 - 20 minutes. Although, I had a record breaker today with one child watching me for at least an hour.

So here, they watch me. But when you play at home the ideal situation would be to find someone that sticks out like a sore thumb, and then wait for them to start working. Once they start working, find your spot and just watch. That's all you have to do!