This is a big week. PST came to an end. We had our Swearing-in Ceremony and then moved to our permanent sites. The other day I realized that I have been in Swaziland exactly eight weeks. This time would have covered half of my study abroad trip that I took in college. This would have been the halfway point where I started to feel comfortable and I was excited about what was left to come. The difference is that I am still quite far from the halfway point. I have two years to go. That seems crazy every time I say it. Two years! I am happy to be done with training. It has been a long and draining nine weeks. I have learned a lot and I am happy for the time to train and get acclimated to the country before they send us out to our permanent sites.
Training has a few down sides. We have had very little free time over the last nine weeks. Most days are planned for us from 7am-4pm some days later. We typically had sessions Monday-Saturday. I think we had one free Saturday during all nine weeks and that was in week eight! We did have most Sundays off but by the time Sunday came around we were all exhausted and we had laundry to do and cleaning that didn’t get done throughout the week. Training had a lot of positives though as well. We spent time learning about the culture in Swaziland and had intensive language lessons. I am actually quite impressed with the amount of language that I was able to absorb in nine weeks though it still needs lots of work. I was even able to start learning siSwati sign language in the last few weeks. Another really nice part of training is that all the trainees are living near each other. I was about a three minute walk from the closest PCT. It was nice because we were able to see each other daily and start to form some really nice friendships. As much as I value my family and friends at home it is great to start to form real bonds with people here in Swaziland with me. These are people that twenty years from now will be able to understand something about Swaziland that people who haven’t been here will not understand.
The challenge is now we will all be spread across the country. The friend that was a three minute walk away will now be a three hour khumbi ride away. That’s also not a straight shot. I have to ride from my site to Manzini and then from Manzini transfer to Nhlangano and then get a khumbi to her town. It would be a little easier to do this if timetables existed for transport but that is not the case. Khumbis only leave when they are full. I don’t know how often I will be making that trip. The closest volunteer to me will be about 20 minutes away by khumbi which really isn’t that bad. It’s just hard because I grew accustomed to having friends within walking distance and could plan to go over at 4pm and still make it home by dark without any issues. That will not be the case anymore. I will have to get used to planned visits that happen less frequently.
So as the title states I had my Swearing-in Ceremony this week. I am officially a PCV! Up until this point I have been considered a PCT (Peace Corps Trainee). It is nice to get the official title change. The oath we said is apparently the same one that the President says. I decided to wear the traditional Swazi wear for swearing-in. Out of 33 about 10 of us went with traditional wear. It was a great ceremony with amazing food. The only down side was that I forgot Tupperware in order to bring food home with me! We have been joking that it’s a since of a true PCV when you carry Tupperware around with you.
I moved to my permanent site the morning after swearing-in. It is a lot of space with nothing in it. The first night was a little rough because it’s just a new feeling and no one else is around. I was lucky though and was able to ride with the khumbi to see two other volunteer houses that are within 20-45 minutes of me. We then went to our shopping town together. I was able to make a deal and get a fridge and double bed for E3237, which is about $324, including delivery. I am happy that both the bed and fridge have now arrived and I can start to make this place my home.
I also want to add that I have created a photo and letter wall in my bedroom. I brought some photos from home and have already received a few letters. Any photos and letters I receive will be placed on this wall. I have it above my bed so that I will be able to see the letters and photos everyday and have a connection to home. So with that being send, please send me letters and photos. You will see that there is an addition page on the blog now entitled “If you are feeling generous…” You can take a look at the list and go with the title or just send a letter. I will do my best to respond to all mail that I receive. I cannot guarantee a length of time for a return mail does not run on any real schedule here.