Its been a crazy few weeks with packing, moving out of the temporary host family site (Nkamanzi Village), swearing in, getting way too turnt up, moving to my permanent site (Mpompotha), experiencing the Reed dance (Umhlanga), etc.
So where do I start? This post seems like its going to be preety long considering that I haven’t been as much on my P’s and Q’s when it comes to writing my blog post. I guess I’ve been pretty busy which is the truth. If it was a lie you could say Umnemanga (means liar in Siswati).
Leaving behind Nkamanzi
I moved out of the most beautiful village ever. I left behind a place I’d called home and a family I’ve grown to love like my own. It was really hard and I cried so much that I think I made myself a little sick. It’s interesting how in such a short period of time one can grow so attached to people and things. I think that’s the beauty of connection that’s within all of us. That Friday before I had a small going away party filled with lots of love and laughter. I invited a few friends over and made sure to cook some of the “AMERICAN” foods that my family loved and had tasted from my abundant leftovers. The menu included spaghetti, coconut rice and beans, sautéed spinach and lots of chips and drinks. It was a small get together but it was the thought that counted. We listened to music, chatted and gazed at the beautiful moon for majority of the night.
The following day was family appreciation day and as much as I wanted my lil bhuti to come I could only take three family members and my Gogo (grandma) decided that children weren’t allowed to come. This really broke my heart because I had promised my lil bhuti (brother) that he would be able to join for the event. I was also selected by my peers to give a speech in Siswati so that was exciting. I stumbled over a few words but overall my message was heard and the Swazi community members seemed really proud.
This is the moment that I’ve been waiting for for as long as I could remember and it’s finally here; Swearing in that is. The few days before we endured a extensive set of final evaluations and interviews to access if we were fit to serve. We waited nervously in a crowded classroom of peers for our envelope that would reveal our fate (if we would serve or be sent home basically). I opened my letter and the first words I read were Congratulations and that’s all I needed to see. That word sealed my fate. I was officially going to serve as a Youth Development Volunteer in Swaziland. That was such a memorable moment for me. All of my hard work leading up to that point had finally paid off and a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I also met the language requirement of Intermediate Low for service so that was another burden lifted considering I had been studying my butt off the past couple of weeks for the beast aka LPI (Language Proficiency Interview). It was really important to me that I passed and I did. Yay Me.
For swearing in I decided to wear traditional Swazi attire. A lihiya (top) and sidvashi (bottom). I paired those with a beautiful traditional swazi beaded necklace. I felt so beautiful and proud to be wearing the traditional clothing. Many volunteers were afraid of wearing the clothing because of cultural appropriation but I saw the act as cultural appreciation. Appreciating a culture that has wholeheartedly taken us in as their own in many instances. I am so fortunate to be serving in the beautiful kingdom of Swaziland. I can’t wait to hit the ground running.