During the introductions of my first meeting with a group of teachers from the schools around Zithulele, I thought it would be a good idea to open with one of the few Xhosa phrases I had been able to learn reasonably well. The teachers looked at me funny, and looked at each other with smiles on their faces, and then went around the rest of the circle with a simple "nguLindeka" ... "nguMandisa" ... etc.
I later learned that including the "igama lam" was much too formal for the situation, but the teachers thought it was funny and nice that I made an effort. Episodes like that one are what learning about a new culture is all about.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, USA. I'll always be an Angeleno at heart, but I also want to see and experience as much of this astounding world as possible.
After college I spent four months travelling through Turkey, Greece, Italy, Germany, and other parts of Europe (10 countries!). It was an amazing experience that I will never forget, but I often wished I had the chance to stop and settle in some place to get to know the people there, know a little bit more of the culture; basically I didn't just want to be a traveler, I wanted to be a member of the community.
I went back to Los Angeles for a year to work and save up for my next adventure, not knowing where or what that would be. I first came to Zithulele on a business trip with my boss, Dr. Mary Jane Rotheram, for meetings about a research study here affiliated with UCLA. I fell in love with the place (if you have seen any pictures of the coast line and the beaches here, you will easily understand how that happened).
Of course, I didn't know that 3 of my first 4 weeks in Zithulele would be spent without any running water (since then we have had no more water troubles, just a few power outages).
I look forward to sharing with you all (whoever might be reading this) more of my stories, lessons, thoughts, and prattle. I've been a volunteer for Jabulani for 6 months; it's been extraordinary.
Until next time,