South Africa, 5 July

Last week I was invited to serve with the U.S. Peace Corps.  I will serve as an Education Resource Specialist in the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of northeast South Africa, near the borders with Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique.  It is honest to goodness in the Veld.  A quick Google search turns up some beautiful scenery in this part of South Africa.  I will live with a family in a “family compound” in a rural village.    isiZulu and kiSwati are the main languages in the Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces.  In all likelihood, I will have to learn one of these languages while I am there – and possibly more.

As for my role as a Volunteer, I will serve as a Resource Specialist.  My primary project will involve developing communities around schools, as well as introducing alternative teaching methods and serving as a secondary science teacher.  An intimidating assignment given my two years in the teaching force!  During my second year I will pursue a secondary project – I have not put a great deal of thought into my secondary project yet, but I would be interested in developing some sort of outdoor/experiential education program for high school students.  I am really excited – and really nervous.  It’s a big assignment.  But I think I am going to learn a lot while I am in South Africa.

I am going to miss my family and friends – terribly.  To be fair, however, it is my family and friends, many of whom have engaged in either significant world travel or development work abroad, who have made me realize such an adventure was even possible.  I think especially of my brother, who served in the Pacific and Iraq with the United States Marine Corps, working to build infrastructure in these countries as much as he fought.  He has also been my companion while exploring the cities of Germany and Austria, shooting in Scotland’s countryside, tramping through the mountains of New Zealand and Australia, sailing through the Greek islands, and snorkeling Samoa’s coral reefs.  I owe him, and all others who have inspired me with their stories, a debt of gratitude for opening the world to me with their stories.

Soon enough I will add to my own stock of stories to tell.  I leave on 5 July – I really can’t wait.  Two months from today I will touch Africa for the first time!  I will try to keep this blog updated with stories and photos; however, my access to the Internet will probably be limited.

Howell

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