Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our South Africa Arrival, Part 1

Well, it has been a while since we've had internet access and much has happened. The beginning:

From staging, we all boarded a plane for a 16 hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg. Everyone got some sleep except me (Perry). On the bright side, I did manage to catch up on my movie watching. 

Welcoming Ceremony
We arrived and were whisked off via bus to Ndebele College in Siyabuswa, about an hour and a half from Pretoria. When we got there we were all pretty tired and smelly, but the staff greeted us with traditional welcoming songs, which buoyed our spirits a great deal. We were assigned dorm rooms and fell asleep as soon as our heads touched the pillows.

The following week was filled with introductory Peace Corps sessions, language lessons (We learned to say "Hello, how are you?" in 5 of the 11 official languages of South Africa) and finally were assigned our host families. We were somewhat apprehensive at this point (I was excited :) -- Elizabeth), going to live with strangers in a strange country. Would they like us? Would we be able to communicate? How many cultural faux pas would we commit in one day?

The day arrived and families started showing up by carloads. Many were in traditional attire, others more casually dressed. Peace Corps trainees sat on one side of the room, families on the other, each looking the other over trying to guess who would be with whom. When our names were called a lovely woman named Nolwazi came up and "adopted" us.

Nolwazi, Bayanda, and us
Well, we all hit it off immediately. As part of adopting us, our family gave us African names. Elizabeth became Siyamthanda ("We love her") and I became Njabulo ("Happy").  We met our new Gogo (grandmother), mom Sofie, brother Tholi, as well as cousin Juliette and her son Samkelo. Soon people from around the neighborhood were dropping by and introducing themselves and it became a swirl of exotic names and family connections.  We were somewhat overwhelmed by all the attention but it was a great day and we settled in to our new home. 

To be continued...


1 comment:

  1. So glad to hear from you! Sounds like its all coming together and you have been adopted by a nice family. Look forward to following your adventure, The internet is wonderful that way. Take care,