Monday, January 14, 2008


Still in Pretoria for medical, so here is another post!

One of my friends suggested that I interview South Africans and share their stories with people back home (thanks Sean!) so here is my first instalment.

On my way back from a medical procedure, I asked one of the men who drives the volunteers to appointments what he thought was the most important/best aspect of South Africa that I should share with others. Here is an excerpt (please keep in mind that I tried my best to accurately reflect our conversation but I had been sedated for the appointment and I had not eaten for 30+ hours :)):

What is one of the best aspects of South Africa?

"I would have to say that the best thing about South Africa (you know that we speak 11 languages here?), well the best things is that we all work hard to come together. It is important to learn the languages of each other. Where I grew up, if you wanted to play with the other kids and understand each other you had to learn their language.
The other thing that is good about South Africa is that we fought against an unfair government. We won. All of the Afrikaners thought that there would be a civil war, but that did not happen. Its like if you did something wrong against me yesterday, I should just say 'Jennie, yesterday when you did X, this happened to me' and then we move on. Together. That is the other wonderful thing about South Africa. We are not holding grudges, we are moving forward."

I asked a 15 year old youth in our village what was one thing that Americans should know about South Africa and she said that Americans should know that if you live in a rural area, you have to make your own outside light if you want to see at night. I was thinking about this after our conversation and I don't think either of us realized at the time how profound her statement was. There is a perception of South Africa as the land of shopping malls, cities and crime. But the villages are very different. The villages have a beauty about them, but they are also lacking greatly in resources. It is truly 1st world, 3rd world in South Africa (and it is very clear who is given the opportunities to live in each world). In the villages, if you want to see through the night, you better start constructing your own light.

Lots of love,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

tears welling
she lifts my bags
no questions asked

for her
a life

for me
an adventure

no questions asked
i'm stumbling
she lifts.


I have not done a lot of posting on our blog, mainly because I do not have the patience to type an entry on our cell phone. I am in Pretoria right now for some medical tests and I am able to use the computer at the Peace Corps office. I thought I would share one of the most important lessons that I have learned thus far in our Peace Corps experience.

I think one of the biggest lessons that I have learned from my time in the Peace Corps is to let loose the reins of perfection.
For much of my life I have had a drive/a need to be perfect. I felt inadequate if I was not exactly what or who the receiver wanted. Since perfection has no finish line, I never had to sit with the other person's (or my own) disapointment because I could hop right up and say "oh, wait! You thought I was finished. Don't worry, I am not even tired yet." I was always trying to be what others wanted me to be, all the while denying my true interests and talents.

But sometimes the beauty of being a person is to sit down with out make up in mis-matched pajamas and say "here I am," to which the other says "well you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." For once in my life I am not discounting the statement of appreciation, but actually allowing to let words surround me like the rain, blanket and blackberry tea.

Love to you all!

a poem

Not being able to understand
what is being said
the unique

to let the words

ice cubes
on a hot summers day

the unique
to decide
the orange of the African
with the unfinished