Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Twitter and the Last Set of Photos

Because it's so hard to update the blog from the cell phone, we've also signed up for Twitter, a site designed for mobile updating. We'll publish very short notes about what's going on our page.

Also, I thought I could add captions to pictures from the cell phone. Turns out it didn't work. So the red building in this post is an outhouse.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Language Barriers, Part II

While we don't yet speak fluently, we are able to say where we come from, why we are here, introduce ourselves, buy produce and so on. And when we are not understood, we can communicate with hand gestures and by rephrasing our statements a couple different ways.

One of the best parts of learning the local language are the reactions we receive. Few people have seen or heard a person with white skin speak their language. In a country still recovering from apartheid, we hope our attempts to learn Sepedi will have some impact.

Children fun and easy to converse with. Our six year old host sister will carry on a conversation with up just by saying our names using different tones.

While there are benefits to living in a country with many English speakers, the disadvantage is we have to work much harder to learn the language. We don't have the immersion to help us.

Thanks for your questions, we'll keep answering them, and feel free to keep sending more.

Language Barriers, Part I

A reader asks:

"I know you have been learning the language and customs me the region, but I wonder if the language barrier is a problem, or do you find other ways to communicate?"
Compared to Peace Corps Volunteers in other countries, we probably experience less of a language barrier. Students are taught in their home language only through third grade, after which all instruction is given in English (though legally, students can receive instruction in their language of choice). So the younger population is fairly proficient and many working in the professional fields are also fluent.

However, older members of the community may only speak Northern Sotho (Sepedi) and others may speak Sotho and Afrikaans, which was the language of instruction for all grades during apartheid. While we are quickly learning Sepedi, "ga ke kwešiše" (I don't understand) and "ke bolela Sepedi sa nyanne" (I speak a little Sepedi) are common phrases in our everyday speech.

Monday, October 22, 2007

First Pictures of Our Permanent Site

Here are some pictures to accompany this post.

We've been receiving lots of great questions via email, and we haven't forgotten about them. We'll answer the first question, about language, sometime this week.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pictures from Training

In theory, above this text is a slideshow of photos from this post. I can't see if it worked on the cell phone.

(If you get this through e-mail, you might need to visit the blog to see the pictures.)