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We are halfway there!!
Last Friday (5/12/17) was about the midway point through our training period and it is when the Peace Corps performs interviews to see where the trainees are in their acclamation into the local environment, to assess the trainees’ proficiency in language skills, and to give feedback on areas where the trainers feel the trainees needs to improve upon.
Our trainers not only teach, but watch us for signs of emotional stress or other problems typical of being dropped into a completely different environment.
On the first point I was told that I’m acclimating well, no issues were observed and that they are looking forward to my full integration into the Peace Corps. (In case you are wondering, I am NOT an official Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) yet, I’m a Volunteer Trainee. I must successfully complete the 9 week training course that I’m 5 weeks into and be deemed proficient on a long list of skills and knowledge before I’m actually sworn in. If all goes well I should become a card carrying PCV in early June of this year.)
As for areas where I need improvement, my trainers found none. A relief given that I personally feel there are MANY areas I could improve upon. One of which is my language skills, or rather, my lack of them.
I’ve been told that I’m too hard on myself for not picking up Afrikaans in the three weeks we’ve been exposed and tutored in it. That may be true, but it’s also true that I could be, and should be further along than I am. I think I know why.
When I was younger many things came easy to me. If I needed to know something I could read about it, mess around with it to understand basic principles and concepts and I’d be good. Language, however, was always foreign to me (pun intended). I haven’t been in a learning environment in many years so the combination of my belief that I could just “pick it up” and my long forgotten study habits yielded a less that desired proficiency in my ability to speak Afrikaans.
In short, I was lazy and so my Afrikaans sucks.
Luckily I have time to ‘unsuckify’ my Afrikaans skills and that’s what I intend to do. For the next 4 weeks I will live, breathe, eat, sleep and perform other bodily functions in Afrikaans!
Just so you know, on my midterm Afrikaans test (which wasn’t an official test, but merely an assessment for suggestions on where I needed to improve) I was given a ‘Novice Intermediate ‘ level, which isn’t bad at all and about where I figured I’d land. It means that I am about where my trainers expect me to be at this point. I could have done better had I been better prepared by studying more. I will be much better prepared next time.
I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but next week we will host a Small Business Workshop, which should be fun, but I am very much looking forward to the week after where I’ll venture to Luderitz in southern Namibia. Ocean, wind, stark history, breathtaking beauty… it’s all there and more. I’ll be shadowing Travis, a PCV whom I met earlier during one of our training sessions and appears to be a great guy to hang out with and learn from. I hope to take a boatload of photos there.
One final thought before I end this post: To all of you who are mothers, I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day.