Hello from the kingdom of Swaziland! I have been safely in country for just over one week now. We are now in the midst of a process called Pre Service Training (PST). This is cultural, language, safety, security, and policy training that takes place in the local community.
On this past Wednesday, I moved in with my host family. I was greeted by my sikhoni (pronounced si-koh-nee), or sister in law. When we got to the homestead, I met my make (pronounced mah-gay), or mother; and my bobhuti (boh-boo-tee), or brothers, along with their children and several cousins. They, like many of the Swazi people I have met, were super welcoming and helpful with me as I learn sis-Swati. My training host family welcomed me in by giving me a new name, Sibusiso (pronounced see-boo-see-so). Sikhoni told me that my name means blessing. They have also bestowed me with their surname as I integrate into the community.
To those wondering, I have a nice home with electricity. I don’t have to go far for water. My make even has a television and stereo. We watch the local news over dinner. The food is pretty tasty. The weather is nice and mild, especially for it to be winter.
Because I am short and time and bandwidth, I will go over some highlights of the past week and a half.
– We flew from New York to Johannesburg on the Wednesday before last. It was a very long flight, and we shared the flight with another Peace Corps training class headed to Malawi.
– I’m not sure who was more excited. Us, the Peace Corps Swaziland staff who greeted us at the airport, or all of the Peace Corps Swaziland folks who greeted us when we got to the training facility. Let’s call it a tie.
– Peace Corps believes in early mornings. This is certainly an adjustment.
– We have language and cross cultural facilitators (LCFs) who teach us sis-Swati and Swazi cultural norms. My thishela (pronounced tee-shay-la), or teacher, is amazing. She’s taught sis-Swati to various US ambassadors and our country director.
– Speaking of US ambassadors, the current US ambassador came to visit our training class last week. We will be attending the official opening of the US embassy in Swaziland.
– On our way home today, our khombi (pronounced koom-bi), or mini taxi, broke down. We walked a good distance before stopping to take in a football (soccer) game/practice. It was great bonding time.
– I think that I can get used to the serene quiet and stars at night. I’m still getting used to going to bed by 9pm and bucket baths.