Saturday, July 2, 2011

getting there

Today begins our last full week in the village. The following week we'll be traveling to Botswana to attend and present at the Pan-African Reading for All Conference. We'll get back from that Friday the 15th and have to head to Pretoria on the 17th to finish up our Peace Corps business. Then I'll be arriving in American on the 21st, spend the 25th-29th in Maine, and leave for Kinshasa on the 30th. It's going to be a jam-packed month, that's for sure.

So our fears about no one caring that we were leaving seemed to be ill founded. Three weeks or so ago, I discovered a secret principals' meeting taking place with the aim of planning our farewell. They didn't seem to realize how soon it was coming up and ended up settling on the 7th as basically the last possible date they could have it. It should be an interesting event, but it's a bit sad because these kinds of things are expensive so they can only invite so many people. Lots of people have been asking us about it who won't get to go, but it would be impossible to cater an event for the whole village (and when we suggested not catering anything, that was just an impossible proposition).

We have already had two smaller farewells that were really nice. I had planned two parties for my clubs to give them certificates and have snacks which felt a little weird since they are planning to continue after I leave. At the one for the magazine club, the teachers commandeered it a bit and had two kids give speeches and they gave speeches along with some presents. The second one was a bit bigger. One of our schools told us they needed us at school on Friday (the last day of school) and they did a program with the whole school. Conveniently they had just participated in an arts competition so they had their traditional dance routine and gospel song already prepared. Those were great plus more speeches, lots of singing and one of our favorite things...singing and dancing while presenting presents. All of the teachers took one of the presents (like towels, picture frames, etc) and danced them up to us on the stage and presented each one while all the kids were singing and dancing at their seats. It was super fun. When we have cheaper internet, we'll try to post videos of these things.

Anyway, it's been a great end to our time here but extremely busy. This week continues to be busy, even with no school. We've got to finish up the last of the libraries, make presents for all the schools, finish the paper and powerpoint for the conference, thoroughly clean our house, and make a dent in the packing process.

It's weird to think back over these two years as it's flown by, but it's crazy to remember everything we've done. We've traveled in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Liberia. We've been through week long power outages and months long water outages. We've been to countless weddings, funerals, and parties and marched around the streets. We made it through a month long teachers' strike. We've seen 4 of the big five and countless other animals. We've swam in the Indian (and Atlantic) Ocean. We've been to the ridiculous Hartebeespoort Snake Park twice. We've spent countless hours talking with our host mom. We finally made friends in the village. We've planned two fun camps that were plagued by extreme cold and extreme wet. We watched Siphiwe Tshabalala score the first goal of the World Cup in a packed room with people of all ages from the village. We saw the US take on England live. We have met an NBA player, the US Ambassador, the South African national soccer coach. We've built/supplemented 4 libraries. We've played Chicago with kids on the street.

It's been a wonderful two years.

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