I hope you all laughed at that because it looks nothing like Christmas here. Although, in Letlhakeng where I was for the weekend they have a really bright white road and rocks and if you just squint right, it looks like snow. Then you also have to find a way to reconcile why it’s 95 degrees and it looks like there’s snow on the ground, but the world isn’t perfect, so you just have to do your best.
The weather is one of the biggest factors for why it doesn’t feel like the holiday season. It’s too hot, dry, and sunny for me to feel like drinking hot cocoa and preparing for a turkey slaughter. Obviously, those aren’t going to be part of my holidays for these two years, but they’re just a few of the things I took for granted back in America.
The holidays come with a lot of homesickness and that’s OK. They should, it means I have something at home worth missing and that is the most beautiful thing that I will never take for granted again. I want to acknowledge my homesickness, because as John Green so eloquently wrote, “pain demands to be felt”, but I also want to acknowledge that my homesickness is just one small part of my experience and I have so much to be grateful for here. I had a whole post written about my cynicism, annoyances, and homesickness, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to write this one about what I’m grateful for instead. That doesn’t mean I won’t be posting a cynical one in the future, but you all get a small reprieve from my negativity for now 😊
So here are the many things I am grateful for this year:
My family. Both blood and built. I’m grateful for all of you and wouldn’t be where I am without you. I especially want to thank my mom and brother and two best friends Melanie and Bethany for all of the support they’ve given me through this adventure. My whole Peace Corps family is amazing and Thanksgiving was a little more bearable after we made an amazing Thanksgiving feast complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, peach crisp, and much more.
I’m thankful for hot showers and bath tubs. I don’t have either in my house, so when I’m off to a training or visiting a volunteer with more amenities, I am sure to be in the shower/bath at least once a day.
I’m grateful that my school has electricity and I’m able to charge things there. I really only miss having my own electricity occasionally. I’ve grown very used to it already.
I’m grateful for my health and that I am able to just keep getting healthier. I’ve lost 50 pounds since getting here and can already feel the small changes that makes. I still have a ways to go to be to the physical fitness and health I want to be at, but I’m grateful that I’m able to make healthy and positive changes.
I’m grateful for my literacy. I can’t imagine not being able to read. Which brings me to my gratefulness of books. Books can bring you into such an alternate universe, and make you feel an amazing array of emotions. I’ve read 40 books since getting here and it has truly helped with my homesickness.
I’m grateful for the people in my village who really want me there and are making positive changes already. Even though it seems my supervisor is not at the same level of distaste for corporal punishment, my counterpart may be able to still help me abolish it. When I first met with my counterpart, he didn’t think we would be able to eliminate corporal punishment, or that any of the teachers were at fault for the poor results of the school. It’s very common here to blame the students, saying that they aren’t trying to learn, so how can the teachers teach them. Since that meeting though, he has brought up eliminating corporal punishment in a staff meeting with no provocation from me and told the teachers during a test results discussion that they must be doing something wrong and they all need to reevaluate their teaching strategies. These two small changes are huge here! I’m so happy that after only 2 months of knowing my counterpart, I’ve been able to plant little seeds of change.
I’m grateful for a roof over my head, and water to keep me hydrated. That’s more than a lot of people have and I am extremely lucky to have both.
I’m thankful for my resilience, openness to change, and drive. I know my drive can seem extreme and overwhelming at times, but it has helped me accomplish so much in my life. I am extremely happy to always be motivated for positive change.
I am grateful for the earth and how much shit it puts up with from us humans. I only hope I can help to protect it as much as possible in my short life.
I’m grateful for the insanity of time. Even when I think time is going to move so slowly and I’m going to be somewhere forever, I look at the date and realize I’ve been here 4 months. Time here is very different than at home because life here is so different, but I love that it’s been 4 months and that I still have 23 left.
I’m thankful for a lot of small things that makes America my home and I can’t wait to be home, but I’m also so grateful for this experience. It was definitely not the Thanksgiving I’m used to, but homesickness or not, I’m really happy here. I love that I’m doing something so out of the box and even if it’s not everything I thought it would be, it’s life changing.