Monday, November 18, 2013

Lessons Learned and What Integration Really Means

I’ve been spending a while considering what to include in my next blog post. I could be telling you how my school is doing exams so I have been watching an excessive amount of shows/movies. I could also tell you about the two weeks of training I completed in Matsapha. Instead, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned during this indispensable “integration” period. As you read before, this is the first three months at our permanent site when volunteers are supposed to become a functioning member of their Swazi community.

When turning down a marriage proposal from the drunk man on the khombi hanging in your face, it’s best to do so with a smile and a simple no. Insults and anger rarely ever make the situation go away. So when life give you lemons….hopefully the drunk guy doesn’t make lemonade on your shoes.

Two weeks of training may feel long to a volunteer, but Swazis will assume you went all the way back to the United States…And continue to ask you why you were away for so long AND why you’re back. Those two thoughts don’t seem to fit together…Are you happy to see me or not?

Never convert the price to American dollars in your head. It’ll make you crazy…because it hurts to say 15E is too much when really it’s only $1.50 in USD.

Set your pride aside and just use a pee bucket at night. It’s just not worth a roach, rat, or snake crawling on/biting you.

Peanut butter sandwiches with bananas or apple are a perfectly acceptable dinner.

Don’t try and analyze how or why you have diarrhea (aka a poop parade). There are just too many possibilities.

Peace Corps before technology must have been …rough. I commend and applaud those who made it through without computers, kindles, cell phones, electricity in general.

Your feet will never be clean. You’ll step out of your bucket bath all proud of how clean they are. You’ll take a few steps and wonder “HOOWWW??!”

Screens on the windows are amazing but prepare to find spiders and other lovely surprises living between the screen and the glass. Approach with caution when opening your windows.

If you say you don’t want to do your insanity workout or hip hop abs because it creates more laundry, I suggest trying it pants-less. Don’t worry about chaffing, chances are you were sweating enough to prevent that problem before you even started the video.

Swazis have no idea if your hair is clean or disgusting. That’s no excuse for dreads, but it is a nice advantage if you feel lazy.

You’ll never be on time and transport will never go as you planned. There’s always a surprise in there somewhere. Hopefully it’s not pink eye from the number of butts rubbed in your face…now that aisle seat doesn’t seem as awesome huh?

Projects always seem like a good idea when you’re doing the work…Patience and learning how to convince the other party they want to help are two important PCV tools.

If you love dogs, people will think you’re hilarious and that you’re weird when you give them attention.

It’ll never rain when you expect/want it to.

Don’t compare your living conditions to other volunteers. For the three people who have flushing toilets and a nicer pad than you, there are plenty who don’t have electricity, reliable transport, etc. Consider those people before you bitch and whine.

If you want an honest, straightforward answer in Swaziland, ask a child. They’re rarely worried about offending you and they don’t know yet to feed you the answer they think you want.

Applying logic during moments of frustration may cause an aneurysm. Best to just go with the flow.

Well those are Sammy’s Integration Lessons. I’m sure there are many more... but these are the essentials. Enjoy!

TV Series: The Wire
Book: Game of Thrones (finished), The Shining

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