In February PC Swaziland sent out an email inviting the PCVs in my group to apply for a special training on Student-Friendly School. At the training the topics of positive discipline, student counseling and teacher support would be discussed. Any PCVs that were interested had to write a statement, max 1300 characters (yes characters not words). I wrote a statement about how this training was directly related to the work that I had done in the US when I did my internship as a school social worker and got my MSW. I was selected to attend the workshop. I don’t know which other PCVs applied but I know I was really excited to be selected.
On Sunday March 23, we (myself and two PC Swaziland staff members) flew from Swaziland to Joburg, South Africa and then from Joburg to Maseru, Lesotho. Each of these flights was in the air for no more that 45 minutes. We had a little time in the Joburg airport so we looked around at the different souvenirs and then went to sit by our gate to wait for the plane. On our way to the gate one of the PC staff members said groups from other PC countries would be on the flight and she wondered if we would be able to pick them out from a distance. On our way down the escalator to the gate she pointed out a group of three people and when we got down to the gate it was confirmed that they were the PC Zambia group. It was funny how good she was at picking out the PC people from a distance.
We arrived in Maseru and had about a 90 minute ride to the lodge/conference center. There were some beautiful views along the mountain drive. We went up, down and around the mountains, which explained why a drive that was only 50km (about 31 miles) took us 90 minutes. Along the way the driver stopped and let us take some pictures. That’s where I got the pictures of the Basotho people on the horse wearing the traditional blanket.
PC had groups from Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Mozambique at the workshop. I was an amazing opportunity to participate in the workshop but also to be able to hear about PCV experiences in other countries. Some things we experience cross borders and other things are very country specific. It’s funny because we all have our PC acronyms that we know and use, most are the same but a few are different and lead to confusion. It was great to be able to hear about PC in other countries though because then I was able to realize what I really appreciate about Swaziland, the size, and what I find challenge, the aggressive men. The volunteer from Namibia said it takes me 18 hours one-way on a bus to get to her PC office. I can get to the office in Swaziland in 2 hours spend some time there and get home in the same day. Men seem to be aggressive in most of the countries that were in attendance but it seems that they all have their different levels.
We have workshop session from 8:30am-5pm Monday-Wednesday and then on Thursday each country team presented a mini version of one of the sessions as practice for when we present the information to people in our home countries. I got really lucky and have some incredibly motivated and dedicated PC Swaziland staff. We worked well as a team and worked our way through all of the session so that we could adjust them to the cultural context of Swaziland. Our presentation went very well and we received compliments on how well we were organized. I’m actually excited to see how these presentations will go with the new group of PCVs this July and how it will go with PCVs and their community counterparts when they come in later in service.
After our presentations we were able to go on a tour of the Mohale Dam, which was the beautiful view from the lodge. We were able to go through the whole Dam and even go down to where the spill out would occur if the water were high enough. It was a great way to end the trip. I wish we had had more time to do touristy things but I understood I was there for a work trip so I really was just grateful for the opportunity to view a different country without having to spend my own money. This workshop was a nice business trip with slight vacation moments.
At the end of the week we flew back to Joburg early Friday morning and had to run through the airport to make our flight to Swaziland. We were back in Swaziland by noon on Friday. It was a nice trip overall. I made new friends in the other PCVs that I hope to be able to visit in their various countries, I learned some valuable skills and I am ready to share those skills with other PCVs in Swaziland.
Country county increases to four! (Swaziland, South Africa, Mozambique and Lesotho)