Saturday, August 11, 2007


Oh, and real quick: SEND ME MAIL!!!!!! I want letters so badly.

Megan Clapp, PCV
U. S. Peace Corps
PO Box 9536
Pretoria 0001

A Sea of Roosters

Every morning when I wake at 5:30, I hear a chorus outside my window. A glorious chorus of crowing. It starts with one rooster, and it spreads far across the land. Then when the light breaks and I go out to empty my bucket of urine that I keep in my room for when I need to take a leak at night- I find myself in the middle of a vast ocean of crowing. I can hear hundreds and hundreds of roosters crowing for miles and miles. Roosters, man. They're ridiculous.

I've been here in South Africa now for about 22 days - and to the best of my knowledge, I am alive and well. Training and adjusting is consuming and demanding. Holy hell. But it is also really pretty fantastic. I have already made some lifelong palships. It happens quick here- when you've got another person alongside you in situation after situation of pure awkward ... the bonds develop fast and strong. On that note- I'd like to talk about awkwardness. We had a PCV that came to help us with our training, and he gave us a pearl of wisdom: after a while of operating in a perpetual state of awkwardness, it starts feeling normal. I think I'm getting closer and closer to that stage. It's pretty liberating, to be honest.

Okay, the details. I am living with a family in a rural village in the North West Territory. I am learning Setswana (albeit very slowly.) There are frustration and joys and frustrations and joys and whoooooa boy. It's intense.

We observed a school two weeks ago, and are going to be working with them again this week. The schools ... oh boy. Part of me was a little apprehensive about my skill sets and what I had to offer at my future site - and that same part of me still feels that - but to a much lesser extent now. I can see much to work with.

The schools, the teacher and the children have sooo many challenges to face. Most influential is fighting the legacy of the Bantu Education system implemented under the Apartheid. That topic could be its own entry. It could be its own book. It could be its own library. But to touch on it a little, the systematic oppression that the block population faced, especially in the schools, is almost overwhelming. It was so brutal and so damn destructive. Education has been revised, but to undo the damage will take generations.

The residual effects of the Bantu Education couple with the HIV/AIDS issue ... I don't know how to end this sentence, to be honest. There is a significant problem of parents dying off, leaving orphans - or if they're lucky, they might have a grandparent or relative take them in. Then there are the children themselves dying. Oi. And of course, anywhere you go, anyone you ask- no one has any real AIDS problems. People are dying from other things, not AIDS. Granted, there are plenty of other contributing factors to the tremendous death rate, but people are definitely turning their heads. I almost can't blame them.

Anyway, to wrap things up a little bit- I'm doing well. It's challenging, that's for sure. But that's just exactly what I asked for. I'm going to change this place. The whole thing. I am going to change this place, and then I am change all of Africa. Then I will go home and fix America. Then all of North America. Then I will move on to Asia, then South America, then Europe then Australia ... but I'm not sure I will be able to do much about Antarctica. As painful as it is for me to admit, I think Antarctica is going to the wolves. I've felt that it has been going that direction for a long time now. You have to pick and choose your battles - I mean, I have to be realistic about my abilities.