In high school I belonged to the swim and track teams. Long distances were my preference in both sports. For the mile run and 400-meter swim, the third lap or 100 was always the hardest. The first leg contained energy from the start the carried into the second and last piece was always a hard push to the finish. The third bout took focus and maintenance. This is where your mind could trip you up.
Although I am only in the second month of my Year of Presence project, I hit that third lap. My focus was off and thoughts all over the place and not very often in Lesotho. I dreamed of home, a life beyond Peace Corps and some place with a beach. Sticking to what was in front of me was more of a struggle this month than last.
One thing that helped was meditating and praying quite a bit. I would start each day with calm, deep breaths and a reminder to be here. Some days it worked, some days it didn’t. I lost my temper with my students a few times, which I immediately felt guilty for afterwards. But there were a few instances that I remembered to stop and give them a break, they are teenagers after all.
Many volunteers get caught up in living at the ultimate minimum – no electricity, few showers and tasteless local food. Those things are part of the experience but we don’t need to let the stereotype life ruin our happiness. This month I did little things to take care of myself to make me feel better. So what if I have to go the pump a few more times so I can have an extra bath? Feeling clean makes me feel better so I will do it. Same with food. Instead of papa and moroho for lunch everyday, I can bring beans or lentils once a week to school if it means I will teach and interact with more enthusiasm. This job is hard and I have to remember that I need to take care of myself if I am going to survive the two years.
I may be almost six months into my first year as a teacher, but I think I now know all of my students’ names, which is incredible since most of them sound like a slur of letters to me.
I am not entirely proud of this month and really hope to do better in March, my last month in Phase II. I really want to focus on the village and dive into it.
For the next month I plan to take a break from social media. I still will check and respond to emails and I’ve changed my Facebook notifications so that all messages and wall posts will go to my email and I can respond to them. But I want to use the time I browse Twitter and Facebook timelines watching the herd boys come in from the fields or greeting the women from the well. My life is here, not online. To keep in touch, I’ve got a phone and mailing address :).
As for the blog, I am unsure what I will do. I am not really happy with the blog as it is now and am not sure what direction I want to take it in. However, I write about my life here every day so I am sure there will be some posts throughout the month.
March will be a good month for me: Moshoeshoe’s Day (a huge cultural day in Lesotho), my first set of visitors from an outside country (a Niger PCV!) and reunion with ED 12s at Phase III training, all leading to my South African vacation in April.
The YOP project has forced me to deal with a lot of issues that have plagued me for years and I can already feel the growth. Yet, I have a way to go. March, however, has a lot of potential.
Happy Leap Year, all.
P.S. If you can, you should watch ‘Leap Year’ the movie. It is my absolute favorite. It’s cheesy and the dialogue is terrible, but it’s Ireland and still wonderful.