Sunday, March 6, 2011


Yesterday, we attended a funeral and a wedding. Though we've been to lots and other parties, it was the first time we attended two on the same day. The funeral was for a teacher at one of our schools, and the wedding was for people we didn't know but we were asked to attend by a pastor who volunteers on one of the school's governing bodies. The funeral (and memorial service held on Thursday afternoon) were a bit bizarre to us just because we knew a little more about this man than many of the people who's funeral's we have attended. He was a very nice man, a neighbor of ours actually, but had been sick for the past 20 years. I remember first meeting him and noticing how sick he seemed. His condition got progressively worse since we have lived here. He stopped teaching about half way through last year. Other than one of the other teachers who would drive him to school, the doctor, check in on him, etc, he seemed to live a very solitary life. He was the only man of his age (51) that I ever saw going to the shop to buy his own bread and things. Most people ask children to do these tasks for them, and we are usually the oldest people at the shop. His funeral and memorial were huge affairs since he was a teacher. They had to have two separate sets of women cooking, one for family and friends and one for teachers and students, because there were so many people there. I wonder where these people were during his life, but at the same time realize how many more people were showing support for his family and those who really did care about him than would have in the states (where I'm sure he would have been forced out of teaching years ago.)

Anyway, attending these events also reminded me of all the things I'm going to miss about living in South Africa...singing Tswana hymns, dance marching around parties, chakalaka, old men and old ladies, etc, etc.

It's also weird though because though we've lived here over a year and a half, people still are surprised to know that we have done things like attend funerals (our cousin stopped by for a chat yesterday and we were talking about the funeral and he asked if it was our first), take a taxi to Pretoria (something unfortunately we have to do almost once a month) and navigate our way around Pretoria (as a city person, I love walking around Pretoria and we both know the city very well), say ko ko instead of knock knock, understand/speak Setswana, eaten pap, etc. It's okay when these assumptions come from random people as we are meeting new people almost everyday, but they often come from people who we've gotten to know pretty well in our time here. Though two years is certainly enough time for us to accomplish our work here, I think really overcoming these assumptions would take a lifetime.

In my attempts to talk about other things, I haven't mentioned work in a while. Things are going well though we are busy as we don't have much time left here. I'm trying to prepare to go to a conference in Botswana with 3 teachers in July both in terms of finding funding and prepare what we are going to present. Our community service club has been even better this year...the kids are focusing on crime as their issue and organizing an after school club to keep kids off the streets. I'm trying to finally set up a few workshops before we go. Our book donation should arrive this week so we've got lots of work ahead of us to organize the books. We've got the constitution almost done for our camp so they should be submitting the nonprofit organization application in the next few weeks.

Things are good though it's hard to believe how soon our time here will be coming to an end.

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