Saturday, December 26, 2009


It's been over three months since I have finished my service in South Africa and returned to the United States.

This last entry is pretty intimidating to try to write. I have so many feelings about my service, and so many of them are conflicting. My blog, when I've actually gotten around to writing in it, has only scraped the very surface of my experience (with the exception of the John Cena entry- one of the most profound and penetrating pieces written about South Africa in recent history).
As I am writing this, so many memories and images are running through my head. So many faces I want to see again, so many bodies I want to hug again, so many chickens I want to kill again.

I still have a lot of confusion about what all happened down there. There's still so much for me to process.
I've brought a few things back with me: a pretty table, the feeling of being an outsider, a thirst for chicken blood, an even more warped sense of humor, a little bit of outrage and indignation, an increased threshold for ambiguity and chaos, a few pounds, a passion for social and economic justice, a lot of incredible memories and relationships, and a parasite.

I'm just kidding about the parasite.

It just seems like most people I've spoken to about my experience in Peace Corps are intrigued about that above all else; everyone seem to know at least one person or another who joined Peace Corps and came back with a parasite. I wish I could be that person for all of you, but alas, I am parasiteless.

One of the most commonly asked questions I get when my service in South Africa comes up is, "was it fun?" I have such a difficult time answering that question. I think people just want me to say yes and be done with it.
Instead, my answer is an awkward, "uhm ... I learned a lot?"

I get the impression that people want me to perpetuate their image of Peace Corps Volunteerdom: getting stoned all day while digging holes and bathing in nearby streams (where you pick up your parasite.) I didn't do any of those things. Sorry, y'all.

I was going to try to keep going with what people expect my experience to be like and how my actual experience differs and what's it has been like to try to relate my experience to people who only really half care, but that's all, like, too hard.
I've written all I can write for now. It's too overwhelming and I've still got way too much to process. Maybe in another 3 months I'll work up the courage to attempt this again?


art said...

word. on all of this. and is that dead chicken in the photo below the one we killed in lesotho? i think i recognize the bloodied leatherman

Megan said...

Yes, sir. Indeed it is our little baby.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Wendy said...

Hi Lerato - I just happened on this site & really enjoyed your blog entries. I was in SA 03-05, in Mokassa II - east of Taung (where I shopped) 45 min S of Vryburg. Your descriptions jogged my memory on many fronts. I still struggle when asked "was it a WONDERFUL experience?" Catch myself wanting to give others much more education about the cultural complexities than they are interested in but usually settle on more briefly saying how much I learned & how fortunate I feel to have been able to experience SA from inside a rural Tswana community. That's usually enough to send folks off on errands they forgot they had. :-)
Well, congratulations on seeing it through - sounds like you did some good stuff. Welcome back and best wishes for an easy transition. Kagiso - Sonora, CA

Anonymous said...

this blog is called straight from the zebra's mouth. I can thus assume that the zebra, as an animal, does not say much.

Shirley Brandon said...

incredible memories and relationships!! That's a good take away.

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