Welcome back! First of all, let me say what we are all thinking: I am the worst updater (is that the correct term?) in the history of the entire universe. Has it been a month and a half since I left? Yup. Have I updated the blog once? Nope. I’ve thought about it a lot though, so I guess that’s something. My sincerest apologies go out to anyone who had high expectations of what my blog would be. In an effort to make up for my past failings I am about to create a somewhat informative, extraordinarily long post about what my life has looked since you last heard from me. In an attempt to stay on task I’ll use a Q&A format to address your FAQs. Here we go.
Q: How’s everything?
A: This is a super vague question. Here is a super vague answer: Good?
Q: What do you do every day?
7am- wake up
745- get picked up and go to work
8-11- work (more on this later)
11-1- drink excessive amounts of coffee, eat lunch, etc.
1-245- seminar or media project work time
4- return home to the last house on Flower Street
4-7- reading (I’ve read five books, for pleasure), seminar work, bath, etc.
Q: What are you doing at work?
A: In each core country we have an NGO that TBB is partnered with. In South Africa we are partnered with PlettAid. The PlettAid Foundation Facebook page defines PlettAid’s role as providing “palliative care to persons living with life-limiting illness in the Plettenberg Bay area.” For the past three weeks I have been working with a caregiver named Marie door-to-door visiting patients in Kurland, a township located in The Crags. Kurland is the smallest township of the four that TBB students are working in and the majority of our home visits consist of blood pressure and blood sugar testing, distribution of medication and Marie trying to convince patients that it is worth their time to take their medication and visit the clinic regularly. The vast majority of the learning is done simply by conversing with Marie; she has been a caregiver working for PlettAid in Kurland for almost 11 years and is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She is there to help patients healthy and if they are missing appointments and skipping treatment they are not about to do it without hearing a thing or two from Marie. As for the first two weeks of my work in South Africa, I was working with Masizame at their creche (similar to a preschool). This particular organization has their prevention program (creche), a drop-in center providing meals and a safe place to hang out for at-risk youth and a residential program where court-appointed children live anywhere from six months to two years. Thos first two weeks were not an intensive public health-related work project because of government funding to PlettAid being cut–forcing PlettAid to drop multiple caregivers and nearly 2/3 of their patients. Because of this, there were not enough caregivers for students to shadow for a full five week period, so we improvised.
Q: Where are you living?
A: Kurland, a small township in The Crags. I live in the last house on Flower Street, in case you were wondering.
Q: What does Plettenberg Bay look like?
A: Remember when Big Sur used to get rain? It looks kind of like that.
Q: How is your host family?
A: Amazing. Fantastic. Unforgettable. Can I say amazing again? Just did. They are generous, kind-hearted, welcoming and everything else that is good in the world. Patty, my roommate, and I have a dad named John, a mom named Sally, a brother, Joventis, and a sister, Megan. In addition to these four, I am fairly certain that everyone else in the township is our cousin. Sally prays for us constantly and checks up on us multiple times a day and has already cried four times talking about us leaving (we still have three days to go). She made us shirts with a picture of our South African family on it and I will wear it every day for the rest of time.
Q: How is your group?
A: Amazing. Fantastic. Unforgettable. The group dynamic is spectacular. I could not have dreamed of better people to explore the world with. The only thing more remarkable than how vast the differences in our backgrounds are is how similar our mindsets and thoughts about life are. We question together, get frustrated together and have so much fun.
Q: Are you homesick?
A: No. Do I miss the people and, occasionally, my bed? Absolutely, but there has not been a moment so far when I have felt an overwhelming desire to return. Where I am is where I am supposed to be.
Q: Are you happy?
A: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. In addition to Stevenson, TBB is the best thing that has ever happened to me. This is where I belong. No matter how frustrated or tired I get, I never question that coming on TBB was the right choice. To feel so certain, so sure that my decision was the right one, is a feeling that I cannot describe.
Q: Do you miss your phone?
A: Not at all. You can keep it.
Q: Are there baboons on the side of the road?
A: I’ve never been asked this question, but the answer is ‘yes’.
Q: If your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it?
A: Definitely. I’m fairly certain my bungee exhibition was my mother’s worst nightmares brought to life.
Q: If your friends jumped out of a plane would you do it?
A: Again, the answer is yes.
- My birthday was great. The family shoved cake in my face and it was amazing. Thank you so much for all of your thoughtful wishes. You never fail to make me feel loved.
- For my Independent Student Travel weekend I travelled to Cape Town. There are pictures on Facebook. It was awesome.
I have to go now because it is time for the final seminar, but thank you once again for your never-ending patience. I will post pictures soon.