I have published a lot of writing and photography depicting vignettes from my time living in the village and while on the road traveling. However, I realize a lot of you might be wondering what it is that actually, like, do, besides take pictures. (Admittedly, I do that a lot.) With that in mind, I give you Tuesday 14 August 2012:
06h00 Alarm goes off. Semi-conscious but fully-pissed, I hit snooze.
06h15 Morning routine: do 100 pushup & situps, make the bed, apply sunscreen, and get dressed.
06h45 Breakfast: French press coffee (from home!) and cinnamon-sugar oatmeal.
07h30 2 km walk to Tolamo Primary School.
08h15 Kwetsane, my co-teacher, and I engage in our daily panic to rearrange the grade 6 time-table so we can teach our natural science lesson together.
08h20 Teach two sections of grade 6 natural science. Our textbook includes no information on today’s learning objective presribed by the work schedule – the importance of Earth’s atmosphere – so I wrote up my own reading exercise the night before.
09h45 3 km walk to Lot Mashiane Secondary School.
10h00 Lunch at the secondary school: pap – a thick cornmeal porridge – and soya mince.
10h30 Administrative Assistant asks me for help with the computer. The trial period on Microsoft Office has expired, so I authorize it with a *completely legal* copy of the product key.
11h00 Finish, print, and copy the day’s worksheet for grade 7 maths: a review of triangles, quadrilaterals, and plotting points.
11h45 First section of grade 7 maths.
13h15 Second section of grade 7 maths.
14h15 Prep for afternoon’s Scout programme: following woodcraft signs, which includes walking around the village to set up arrows and other signs using sand, rocks, grass, sticks, and beer bottle caps.
16h00 Official start of Scout programme. No Scouts yet.
16h20 Scouts have finally arrived. Programme begins. Early, by African time!
17h45 Scout programme concludes. Patrol Leaders remain behind to debrief today’s programme and discuss next week’s programme: stalking.
18h00 Clean up and bathe while dinner is cooking: Thai lentil curry with brown rice. The circuit breaker trips. Twice. Gotta remember: can’t have the stove and the kettle going at once.
19h00 Councillor Phalwane, the community councillor, drops by my house to discuss his concern with the high level of unemployment and low level of education of the youth in the community. We agree to hold a youth meeting at the community centre on Thursday to better understand how we can address youth needs in the community.
19h45 Ma Grace returns from work at the BMW factory; she’s been gone since 04h00. Phalwane, Ma Grace, and I chat for a few minutes before they excuse themselves.
20h45 Eat dinner and watch two episodes of Arrested Development. Wash the day’s dishes.
21h45 Plan lessons for Wednesday: using graphs to calculate speed for grade 7 maths and the layers of the atmosphere for grade 6 natural science.
23h00 Read a few chapters of A Dance With Dragons before falling asleep with the lights on. Time for bed: another big day tomorrow.
A common perception seems to exist that Peace Corps Volunteers have lots of idle time on their hands: “Bring an instrument,” they say, “You’ll need something to pass the time.” This experience has not been my own: I split the day teaching at two schools, facilitate Scouting or basketball all afternoon (admittedly, I haven’t devoted as much time to the latter since Scouts has grown), and plan lessons and mark work all evening. If my family doesn’t take me to attend a funeral or to talk to the ancestors, I spend Saturday doing my laundry. Even with the lure of a tall, frosty Castle, I avoid trips to town: they take all day, and talking to the drunk guys on the taxi ride back is wearisome.
While no two of my days here are exactly alike, this day was pretty busy, but otherwise fairly typical. I reckon the daily schedule I follow here closely resembles the daily schedule I followed while I was a teacher at Spartanburg Day School, though I do spend a good deal more time sweeping, hauling and heating water, greeting people, and walking places.