Friday, June 19, 2009

What time do the sperms sleep?

So it’s been over a month since I last posted a “real” blog entry, and I apologize for my slacking. It’s not like I’ve even been doing anything so exciting that I haven’t had time to write. And it’s not like I’ve been so bored that I haven’t had anything to write about. It’s just that every time I turn on my computer I prefer to hook up my speakers and rock out to Lady Gaga than write a blog or do any other real work. I’ve got my priorities.

That and I got internet on my cell phone so now I can be on Facebook or Gmail anytime so I haven’t had reason to be at the internet cafĂ©. So send me Facebook messages or emails if you want, but I can only respond to Facebook messages.

Anyway, let me update you, in brief, on the last month of my life:

I FINALLY finished up the final hectic weeks of the JA Company program I’d been teaching at Hluti Central High School. In 11 weeks (more like 16 because people kept canceling school on me), my group of 20 students (we fired the other 12) made almost $300 selling food items and grass chicken nests. Including all the fees we had to pay to the NGO running it (rent, taxes, etc.) and employee wages, we still managed to almost double our “shareholders’” initial investment of E5. Everyone was pretty happy with the final stats, and I’m super happy it’s over. Maybe, if I’m lucky, by January of next year I’ll forget how terrible it was and I’ll sign up to facilitate it again.

To officially close down the business, we had a “stakeholders meeting” where we invited lots of important people (including the Swazi news channel, but they didn’t show up) and talked about the successes and challenges of running the business and disclosed to the shareholders what their dividend payment would be. I also got to hear a lovely speech from the head teacher about how reluctant he was to let me come into the school to teach the program because he was convinced that I was a white woman just trying to use the students as slave labor to earn money under the guise of teaching them something. That’s cool.

I also started a similar program for Form 3 (10th grade) students at the same school. I’m teaching the basics of personal finance—budget, balancing a check book, the advantages and disadvantages of credit cards, etc. Or at least trying. It’s supposed to be a 2 week program with two 3-hour sessions on consecutive Saturdays. Except nobody wants to do it on Saturdays, so we decided to do it on Thursday and Friday afternoons in one week. Thursday we played two games about the importance of education and talked about choosing the right career path, and Friday I was the only one to show up. Actually that’s not true, all the students were there until they saw me, at which point they ran out the gate of the school and didn’t come back. I’m so glad they’re excited about learning.

My teaching at Florence has continued, but we’ve moved on from the HIV-focused curriculum and toward lessons about general sexual education. Last week we had fun labeling all the parts of the male and female reproductive systems and talking about how pregnancy happens. This week we did a lesson called “A Girl Can’t Get Pregnant If…” where we discussed all the myths surrounding pregnancy prevention. They were all quite confused about pregnancy prevention, but I hope at least to have cleared up the confusion about how you CAN still get pregnant if you have sex standing up and how birth control pills make you permanently infertile. Because they don’t. For the record, though I taught that the only 100% sure-fire way to keep from getting pregnant is to abstain from sex. PEPFAR will be pleased.

I think the highlight of my lessons this week was a Form 4 (11th Grade) boy who asked me, quite timidly, if it was okay to have sex after 9:00 without a condom. I guess I made a face because I couldn’t fathom why the time of day would matter. So he specified that he thought 9:00 was the time that the “sperms” go to sleep, so isn’t it okay to have sex after then? Um, no.

I also found a large quantity of government-issue generic condoms on a kombi the other day, which was strange. They were just sitting there on the seat next to this big lady and nobody would touch them. I was kind of confused, so I asked the teacher from the school who had gotten on with me, and he awkwardly explained that they were condoms. Um, yeah, I know. After determining that they didn’t belong to anyone on the kombi, I opened my bag and dumped the box in while they all just stared in awe at the weird white girl casually stuffing her bag with condoms. Don't worry, they're not for me but I know a lot of people that could use them. In a country where women NEVER carry condoms, I guess it was kind of a spectacle.

The future of the Shiselweni Region Youth Support Group is still somewhat uncertain. The other girls and I finally submitted and revised and submitted and revised a proposal to seek long-term funding for the project, but we’re stumped at how to make it sustainable for the future. As it runs now, it’s not really possible. Either way, we have a meeting coming up next weekend. I’ll keep you posted.

After the meeting next week we’re having a going away braai (BBQ) at a friend’s house in Nhlangano, which will be somewhat bittersweet. As much at I like to eat meat and potato salad, I’m sad to see Deja and Alexis (the two Group 5ers in the Shis) go. I’ve already lost Fionah (but gained an exercise bike, weights and a large quantity of protein shakes) and my other close friends in Group 5 will be leaving in the next month. Sadness.

We WILL gain a bunch of new volunteers next week, which is crazy to think about. If any of you future G7-ers are reading this, (1) why aren’t you out eating Big Macs and drinking cappuccinos and watching movies and hanging out with people you won’t see for the next two years? Or at least out frantically shopping at Target or REI? (2) Feel free to contact me on Facebook with last minute questions because, now that I have internet on my phone, I can answer Facebook messages from the comfort of my hut.

And my sisi who had the baby STILL hasn’t come home from the hospital. Apparently the Swazi doctor who told her it was time to induce was wrong and the doctor in South Africa just put her on bed rest for the last month of the pregnancy, so she delivered on the 9th as was originally planned. I guess my Mkhulu (grandpa) has talked to her and confirmed that both baby and mother are doing well, so they’re not concerned anymore about when she’s coming back. But yeah, I’m excited to meet the little guy!

In news completely unrelated to my purpose in life/Swaziland, I also participated in an American-style Mexican fiesta at Jason’s Backpackers (Bombaso’s, technically, but a guy named Jason runs it and we’re friends so I pretend that I don’t have to pay to hang out there) hosted by three of my fellow volunteers. We had chicken AND beef tacos and guacamole and cheese and sour cream and delicious margaritas. And my body apparently hates tequila now because it’s been two days and I still feel terrible, but it was totally worth it. And this weekend a bunch of people are going to Durban for the Springbok game and they’re going to bring me Body Shop body butter (strawberry, obviously) and TWO Big Mac meals. And then we’re going to watch The Kendra Show at Jason’s and pretend we’re in America. (I don’t think the guys understand how hard it is to pretend we’re in America when they make us watch cricket all weekend.)

Anyway, that’s all for now. I think this weekend I’m going to treat myself to a frozen shrimp cocktail and a quart of ice cream. It’s going to be awesome.

Can’t wait to meet you Group 7ers!!! (Probably not until July 4 because I live so far away.)

Oh yeah, and if anyone wants to send me brightly colored nail poilsh, that would be great. I put it on my fingernails and then I don't have to bathe because you can't tell my hands are dirty.

Love from the Swaz!!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Hey everyone!! I don't have much to say, but I promise I'll update you on my life sometime this week. I'm in town all week for Mid-Service Conference, which means that I've been in Swaziland almost a year and I'm almost halfway through my Peace Corps service. How did that happen??

Anyway, I'll be around. I'd post photos except that all of my photos are being held hostage on my camera until the girl I lent my SD card reader returns it to me. So yeah.

Love from the Swaz!!