February 7, 2009

Ah, Lesotho


I live just north of the big river there.

Hello fine folks at home.
For those of you keeping score, it's been about 3 months since I came to Lesotho and about 1 month since I arrived in Ha Sterling in Tebellong, where I live.
Teaching has been going well so far. It's slow work and takes a lot of adjusting.
Some days the kids are GREAT and pick up on everything I teach and understand all my words and sit in silence and everything is WONDERFUL.
Other days the kids are terrible and they don't understand my english or my concepts or anything and they get up and walk across the room to talk to their friends and it sucks.

I teach Form A1 and A2 (8th grade or so) in Literature and English Grammar (Combined 7 times a week for each class, so 14 classes)
I teach Form B (Freshman) in Language 3 times a week.
I teach Form C (Sophomores) in Literature 4 times a week.

The classes all read on a very low level compared to Americans and each class has between 50 and 65 kids. It's a struggle because they encompass every level (Advanced, medium and low) in the same class so I have to teach to all of them

My fellow teachers are great. I'm actually one of the oldest at 25 (there's another 25 year old), and very few of them have any sort of tertiary education (college/university). They had a party for me and I got to see how Africans drink (A LOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT). I watched three guys down 2 cases of beer. A case here is 12 750 mL bottles (roughly the size of a 40). (I was not one of those guys, I was fine with my six pack). I do miss good beer terribly. If anyone can find a way to send me some gourmet beers, I'd love you forever.

The town I live in is great. It's very remote, and last weekend the river I have to cross was flooded so I could not come in to the camptown (where I am now). Fortunately there's a shop (very expensive) in my town and there's tons of fresh produce grown locally. I take about half a dozen peaches off the trees near the school and eat them every day. I can also buy fresh potatoes, eggs, corn, tomatoes, grapes, and currants locally for dirt cheap. I bought a 30 pound bag of potatoes for 35 rand ($3.75 US). They were great. I have already lost a bunch of weight (on the last notch of one of my belts) but still have a bit of a gut. There's virtually no way for me to get fats for foods, all the oils are sunflower oils and even that I don't use a lot of (unless I treat myself to french fries!)

I do lots of hiking in my area, as I live near the top of one mountain next to ranges and ranges of mountains. It's gorgeous. There's green everywhere, a big river (the Senqu or the Orange) and the people are wonderful. Today I met Koloi who speaks perfect english in a way that's almost unnerving compared to the accent I'm used to from my colleagues. I also met a doctor from the hospital, who also speaks english quite well and is a very knowledgable and cool dude who happens to be on the internet right next to me. He's from Cameroon and speaks Sesotho as well as I do (not very) but English and French (I'm gonna see if I can use him to practice). I hope to get a peace corps bike soon!

I have not received any letters in a month, as they're all in Maseru, which I won't be in till the end of March. Fortunately, my friend Gwen will be picking things up for me (I hope) in Maseru this weekend and I should see her next weekend at my peace corps welcoming party for the district, Qacha's Nek. I promise promise that I'll write you back, I just sent out a bunch of letters and hope to send out more next time I'm in town (bought a huge sheet of stamps and envelopes and I have TONS of free time, I read a book every day or every other day and still manage to get out and do stuff)

Anyway, before I head out, I have a little wish list:
Red and Green Crossword puzzle book (or any New York Times crossword puzzle books aside from the Black and White one which I have)
a good paperback dictionary
any books on crafts and skills I can develop with the little I have out here (my mom sent me a harmonica and book)
anything with lots of information in it, I'd love to learn more about science and math
The Believer (it's a magazine published by Mcsweeneys)
any books or magazines that you liked and think I would enjoy