Thursday, November 16, 2006

Last Entry From SA

Well this is it. Today at 8:00PM I leave for the airport and I fly out just before midnight (see previously posted flight schedule). It will take me about thirty travelling hours to get home including layovers, but as I gain 7 hours in the process of flying West I will actually get home late Saturday night Eastern Standard Time. I guess the long travelling time is the price to pay in order to be home in time for Thanksgiving.

All of my Peace Corps requirements are done now as I had my exit interview with the country director on Wednesday afternoon. Lisa (our country director) was very complimentary about me and my service and I offered her my input to her for future volunteers. Wednesday night we all went as a group to this nice restaurant to have our last meal together and the food was really good and we had some great conversations about everyone's experiences. Yesterday, since I had a free day I booked myself through the backpackers for a trip to the apartheid museum and Soweto. The museum was a really fascinating look at how apartheid started and developed through the last century all the way through its deconstruction and the first democratic elections in 1994. We then went to Soweto where 5 million people live in neighbourhoods ranging from million dollar homes all the way down to squatter camps. It was nice to see signs of the rise of the black middle class, but still a reminder of how much work there is left to be done in South Africa. We also went to the Hector Pieterson museum in honour of one of the students who was killed by police during the 1976 Soweto uprisings in protest against Bantu education (inferior education designed by the apartheid government for blacks). Hector was only 13 years old when he died and the museum is a memorial to him and the other students who died in the uprisings.

I hope that I will be able to post again once I am home, but we'll see how much jetlag I have first before I hake any guarantees. I will see many of you at Thanksgiving in NY, and I also hope to be able to make a trip to Maryland/DC/Virginia sometime to see my ex roommates Kelly and Danielle. I'll keep you notified. Anyway wish me luck on the long journey home and pray that myself and all my baggage gets there in one piece. There have definately been ups and downs, but all in all the past 2 years have been a great experience for me and a wonderful opportunity to gain knowledge about the world. Thank you all for your support during the past 2 years and I will see you soon!

Jennifer

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wrapping Up

Hi everyone. I almost have everything finished up here in Pretoria. I closed my bank account yesterday and today I finished all my medical requirements. I just have to have my exit interview with my country director this afternoon, and then I will be officially finished. As I don't fly until very late Friday night (see the last entry) I will have a couple of days to relax and hang out in Pretoria before heading on the long trip back home.

I promised last time that I would write more about leaving Potch last week, so here it goes. On Wednesday my roomates "abducted" me after work and blindfolded me. They then put me in the car and when they finally unblindfolded me we were in the park and we had a picnic together, which was really nice. My roomates spent the whole day cooking in order to surprise me. On Friday, my last day at the office, we had a management board meeting, but at the end of the meeting someone came in with plates of snacksin honor of my last day. Alice, Joseph, Liz, our secretary Edith, some of the volunteers and I then took the afternoon of to go to a café for drinks. On saturday I spent the whole day packing and cleaning out my room so that Liz could move in. Finally on Sunday Alice, Megan, and Liz took me to the bus station and hugged me goodbye befoer my bus left for Pretoria. It was very bittersweet as I will miss all of them, but I am also eager to see friends and family in America again and to move on to the next stage in my life. I also told Alice, Megan, and my roommates that they need to come and visit me once they save up some money, so hopefully I will see them all again soon.

I will try to post again on Friday, which will be my last blog entry from South Africa.
Jennifer

Wrapping Up

Hi everyone. I almost have everything finished up here in Pretoria. I closed my bank account yesterday and today I finished all my medical requirements. I just have to have my exit interview with my country director this afternoon, and then I will be officially finished. As I don't fly until very late Friday night (see the last entry) I will have a couple of days to relax and hang out in Pretoria before heading on the long trip back home.

I promised last time that I would write more about leaving Potch last week, so here it goes. On Wednesday my roomates "abducted" me after work and blindfolded me. They then put me in the car and when they finally unblindfolded me we were in the park and we had a picnic together, which was really nice. My roomates spent the whole day cooking in order to surprise me. On Friday, my last day at the office, we had a management board meeting, but at the end of the meeting someone came in with plates of snacksin honor of my last day. Alice, Joseph, Liz, our secretary Edith, some of the volunteers and I then took the afternoon of to go to a café for drinks. On saturday I spent the whole day packing and cleaning out my room so that Liz could move in. Finally on Sunday Alice, Megan, and Liz took me to the bus station and hugged me goodbye befoer my bus left for Pretoria. It was very bittersweet as I will miss all of them, but I am also eager to see friends and family in America again and to move on to the next stage in my life. I also told Alice, Megan, and my roommates that they need to come and visit me once they save up some money, so hopefully I will see them all again soon.

I will try to post again on Friday, which will be my last blog entry from South Africa.
Jennifer

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Flight Info.

Made it to Pretoria safely. Don't have much time to use the computer now, so I will just post my flight info. and will tell you about leaving Potch in a later Blog entry.

Friday 17 November 2006
Northwest Airlines Flight NW8422
Depart Johannesburg, South Africa 23:55 hours
Arrive Amsterdam, Netherlands 10:00 Hours
Arrival Date: 18 November 2006
Flying Time: 11hours 05minutes

Saturday 18 November 2006
Northwest Airlines Flight NW57
Depart Amsterdam, Netherlands 14:00 Hours
Arrive Memphis, USA 17:05 Hours
Flying Time 10Hours 05 minutes

Saturday 18 November 2006
Northwest Airlines Flight NW882
Depart Memphis, USA 19:28 Hours
Arrive Tampa, USA 22:16 Hours
Flying Time: 1hour 48minutes

Its a pretty indirect route, but hey at least I get there. I also get to check out the Netherlands, well at least the airport in Amsterdam. Busy with my COS medical stuff now so I will try to write more later.

Jennifer

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Last Week in Potch

Well this upcoming week will be my last week in Potchefstroom as I am spending my final week of service at Peace Corps headquarters in Pretoria checking out. My last day of work will be this Friday (11/10) and then I am planning on cleaning out my room on saturday and then leaving for Pretoria on Sunday (11/12). As you all now by now my COS (close of service) date is 11/17/2006 exactly 2 years from the date I was sworn in (11/17/2004).

The last few weeks have been pretty busy at Childline. Schools are closing for the summer soon and we are trying to finish up our awareness campaigns at schools before they do. I also had to submit several things to the Peace Corps, including my last quarterly report, my description of service, and my final site report, so a lot of work time was spent typing up Peace Corps paperwork. I also had a training in Khutsong in the eastern part of the Province so I was away from Wed. to Fri. there. This week I will hopefully spend cleaning out my desk and wrapping up everything as well as saying goodbye.

Not really much else to report from here. I will probably write the next update from Pretoria as next weekend I will be busy cleaning out my room and then travelling.

Jennifer

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Final Countdown

As of now I have three more weeks at Childline and four more weeks in South Africa. Everything has gone by so fast and it really hasn't completely hit me yet that I am that close to leaving. I think one of the reasons is that I still have a lot of work to do in these last few weeks. Liz is in the process of developing an awareness program for high schools that includes skits and discussions and we are going to roll it out in 2 weeks in high schools in Mafikeng (the North West provincial capital). We are working in conjunction with the Red Cross for this project and we spent the last 2 weeks in and out of Mafikeng training the volunteers in the crisis counsellor program and interviewing them. Now we have to go back to Mafikeng for three days next week in order to show the volunteers the scripts for the skits and allow them to practice. I'm looking forward to this program because it will allow me to be out of the office for most of the three weeks I have left, but it is always a bit stressful to roll out a new program, and I hope we will be able to make this one a success.

For all of you that sent me birthday well wishes and gifts thanks so much. Kelly I just got yours this week and we managed to get confetti all over the office. Luckily we have a cleaning lady :-). For those of you asking about my flight details I am not really sure yet because the Peace Corps is responsible for buying my ticket. All I currently know is that I will be flying out on November 17th. Once I get my ticket information I will post the times, carrier, flight number, etc. on this blog, but that probably won't be until my last week when I will be in Pretoria checking out.

That's all for now folks. See you all very soon.
Jennifer

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Last birthday in SA

Hello all,
Only about 1 1/2 months left now! For those of you wondering how my birthday went they had a surprise party for me at work with a huge cake in the shape of the numbers 26 and balloons. Most of the counsellors attended and some even gave me some small presents. The weekend before my birthday I went to my roomates farm in the Free State and we drove aound in the pickup truck inspecting the cattle and we also had a birthday cookout for both of us (her birthday was on the 25th). We also went to Gold Reef city theme park in Johannesburg, which isn't quite as good as US theme parks, but it was a good time and we went on all the rollercoasters as Marizette (my friend) had never been on a roller coaster before. Talitha, another one of my roomates, had her birthday on October 4th, and all of us went out to dinner and walked around the university campus for a bit.

The last week of September was also Aardklop week in Potchefstroom, whitch is this big Afrikaans festival that attracts people from all over. I don't understand the music and the other entertainment much, but I spent several days exploring the clothing and gift stalls and buying food, as the park the festival is in is just down the street from my house.

As far as work is concerned everything is going well and the new volunteer Liz is gradually adjusting to the routine. Due to our awareness campaigns and increased advertisement of the line, the calls per month have increased dramatically, and we are now ahead of several other Provinces in terms of call volume, even though we are one of the least populated Provinces. Next week we are going to Mafikeng for the who week to train community members there in conjunction with the Red Cross, which I am looking forward to as it will be a chance to get out of the office for a week.

Not much else in terms of news from here. Only 5 weeks left in Potchefstroom and 6 weeks left in South Africa. Looking forward to getting home and finally seeing all of you.

Jennifer

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The AGM

As you all know from previous blog entries we held Childline North West's annual general meeting on Tuesday September 12th and I was the guest speaker. The meeting was very well attended by over 100 people from across the Province and things really went very well. My speech was very well received and I acompanied it with a Powerpoint slideshow of pictures from the past year to the song "Seasons of Love" from Rent. The management board gave me flowers and a certificate of merit for my service to the community which really made it very special to me. We also elected some great new management board members including a police superintendant from Schweizer Reneke, a police youth desk member from Khutsong, a young lady who is caring for orphaned children in Itsoseng, and one of the people who helps me deliver soup and bread to the creches - a former minister who now works in the buisness sector.
I wasn't feeling very well on Wednesday as I had a sinus headache so I took the day off and took some medication and am feeling better now. On Thursday and Friday I went to Khutsong with Joseph and two of the counsellors who were doing awareness campaigns there in schools. Meanwhile I was working with the police youth desk member who is now on our management board. He want's to start a safe house for street kids and domestic violence victims, so I was helping him put together a buisnes proposal for him to send to potential funders. That's pretty much it for this week. Next week the new Peace Corps volunteer gets sworn in on Thursday and then I have a three day weekend because Mon. September 25th in Heritage Day in South Africa.
Jennifer