Monday, July 21, 2008

The "Threat Food"

Once upon a time, when I was just a wee lassie, my mother used to threaten me.
I would ask her, "Mom, what's for dinner??" and she would respond, "liver and onions!" to which I would shrivel up my nose in disgust and go, "ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww."

Fast forward to September, 2007. It is the end of my Pre-Service Training for the Peace Corps in South Africa, and I am on my site visit (the first time that I got to see my new home, Setlagole). I am staying at my principal's house, and it is time to cook dinner. I figured I would endear myself to her a little, and cook dinner for us. I ask her what I should cook. She tells me that there are some chicken livers in the freezer. Hmmm.

Well, I had never cooked chicken livers before, so I ask how I should prepare them. She tells me I should cut up an onion and fry them together. (Understand that I hated onions up until coming here to South Africa)

So there I was
cooking up some liver and onions

the food that my mother used to amuse herself with by threatening to cook it for us for dinner


the food that I later used to threaten the children that I worked with for snack time.




But guess what, everybody? It's actually pretty delicious.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's Been a While ...

So it has been some time since my last update, I guess. I got a subtle hint from my father that it was time to update when he forwarded me an email sent to him by a concerned friend. Well played, dad.

I suppose I will start by explaining just why I haven't updated for so long. First and foremost, I hadn't any access to a computer for the past two weeks- but before that is a different story.
Last month, I'd say I was something close to depressed. Not depressed in the way I once was, but rather, I had lost my enthusiasm. I was frustrated with work because I felt like I was getting nothing done (a rather justified feeling). I was empathetically hurt by the suffering and pain of the people of this country, and in neighboring Zimbabwe. I felt debilitated and isolated by the cultural divide between myself and the people around me. I knew I was in a bad head space, and just didn't feel like writing about all that to my family and friends who are reading this blog.

The past two weeks for my vacation I went to another Vipassana Meditation course. It is a course that is ten days long, and of those ten you cannot speak for 9 of them. You learn three techniques of meditation, and during those ten days, you do a sort of deep operation to purify your mind.

I learned about this Vipassana while I was in India with my mother, and we visited one of her friends that my parents worked with at an orphanage several years ago. Her name was Mrs. Modok, and she was by far one of the most amazing people I've ever met. Immediately, you felt a presence that was at peace with herself and the world. She radiated compassion. I wanted to be like Mrs. Modok (and I still do). I found out that she runs a center for Vipassana in Pune, and that that is her method for turning awesome.

I had to try it, and I did. It was the best thing I have ever done, and it is the best thing that I will continue to do. I just finished my fourth course, which was so important for me to take here. I let go of a lot of anger and frustration. I feel far more at peace, and I have regained the drive for my work. I am much more equipped to take on my job. It may simply be that I am more at peace with my limited power to do anything here, but that perspective has empowered me to at least do what I can. Just last month, I was about paralyzed with frustration. Now here I am, ready to go.

I'm meeting this Saturday with my Peer Mentors again. They are some of the most fantastic kids I have ever met, and I firmly believe that they're the reason I'm here.

A few months ago, when we first started exploring the subject of HIV, they got so inspired by this newfound understanding of the virus and how it spread that one of them raised his hand and said, "Can we make a resolution? Can we resolve to put on some kind of awareness campaign or testing drive?" It was far and away the most profoundly awesome experience that I have had here. I will never forget that moment, or Godfrey for as long as I live.

So this Saturday, we'll be meeting to start planning our event.


It is really nice to have my motivation back.