When i was in high school, my youngest brother was not yet in kindergarten, and really liked for me to read his bedtime stories. Sometimes i would make them up, always on the fly, and they were inspired by whatever i had seen, read or experienced recently, or from distant recollections from my own childhood. Little did i know, i would be doing much the same thing here in south africa a decade later.
In the last two weeks, i have given at least four speeches, none of them prepared, about topics of varying interests; from Reading, librarianship, democratic elections and womens suffrage, the importance of community involvement in education, and probably more i cannot, at this time, recall. I have given loads of advice about health, exercise, budgeting, and listened to many a plight. Have i formal training in health or finance, or consider myself an expert in these fields? No sir/mam.
Being viewed as an expert at everything, which i am just for being an american, is flattering, sure, but it was stressful at first. My instincts were to conduct thorough research before offering tentative advice. Now, i realize playing this role is as complicated as reading a toddler a bedtime story; that is to say, not very. embracing my western education, creativity, wisdom and sense of humor have allowed for some really neat tales. No one need be aware that i am spinning them from yarn, barn twine and whatever else is lying around in my mental cobwebs- and by the way, my favorite book to read to my other brother is called, 'the stinky cheese man and other fairly stupid tales.'
other recent news is that i have taught several classes at both schools, including gardening, storytime, literacy, and math. I enjoyed bonding with the learners and keep a stress free attitude about it.
I also made mexican cornbread for thirty peace corps volunteers and a few friends. It was such a big hit, i came home and taught my host sister how to make it using the steam method. No one here has ever heard of cornbread or tried it! And when i say no one, i mean all the non-americans that live in south africa. Our mealie pap works great for the cornmeal part.