Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Tale of Three Thanksgivings

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m writing about Thanksgiving… I guess I’m a little behind the time. I resolve to catch up though as best I can. November was a good month overall and it was capped off by three memorable Thanksgiving celebrations. Funny how spending time outside of the US has multiplied the American holidays I celebrate.

Part I – The Foreigners and the Natives

Thanksgivings and More

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I joined several friends to hang out with Kelee, her boyfriend Philip, and their South African friends out on a farm. The band of Americans was bringing Thanksgiving to the South Africans. Kelee had gone all out, even getting some costumes… Traveling out to the farm was an adventure in itself but the real fun was once we got there late Friday. We had a big braii with delicious lamb from Kelee and Philip’s farm. On Saturday morning, we began cooking. I was in charge of the turkeys (we had two young turkeys) and I made some stuffing from scratch.

From Thanksgivings and More

After a few hours and lots of melted butter, I think the turkeys came out pretty well. We also had candied yams, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, salad, iced tea, and apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies made from scratch.
Needless to say we were all very full after the big meal. After a little digestion though, it was time to continue the Thanksgiving tradition with some good old American football. We taught our South African friends the basic rules and then played a while using their rugby ball. Rugby balls aren’t meant to be thrown overhand. After a while, we switched things up and the South African’s taught us how to play touch rugby. It’s a ton of fun and moves a lot faster than football. The hardest things is remembering to stay behind the ball since it is a foul to pass the ball forward. After the game we relaxed a bit and watched real rugby on TV as the South African National Team (Springboks) crushed the English. Watching rugby with true fans allowed me to finally understand the intricacies of the game. Now I know the difference between a scrum and a ruck. The weekend was a blast and I really enjoyed getting to know Kelee’s friends. I returned back to site for the week and soon was preparing for my next feast.

Part II – Giving Thanks

From Thanksgivings and More

As the quarter was drawing to a close, I wanted to organize a celebration for the library committee to thank them for all the hard work they’ve done. With all their help we are just a few steps away from opening to general circulation. The only big steps remaining are to create our full library policy, to finish with the student library cards, and to streamline the registration system. The library itself is set up and organized and the librarians seem to know the basics of how to get what they want.

From Thanksgivings and More

Based on the exam schedule and teacher’s availability to help, the library party was set for November 27th. I thought it was fitting to be giving thanks to my volunteers on Thanksgiving. The teachers on the committee got food and cooked up a yummy meal of dumpy (a big dumpling bread) and beef stew. I made certificates and we got prizes for our student and community volunteers. We had a few speeches and then watched some movies as we ate.

Part III – American style

Finally, the weekend after the real Thanksgiving brought my last big feast. I traveled to some nearby volunteers who had organized a big meal at a lodge in their village. We played football, ate more turkey and pumpkin pie, and then sang karaoke into the night.

From Thanksgivings and More

The next day I traveled back to site and scrambled to finish everything I had planned before school let out for the year. I had to leave early to go to a training session for Peace Corps in preparation for the next intake of new volunteers. Then I was off to other adventures, whose details shall follow…

Here are some more pictures of things I'm thankful for:

From Thanksgivings and More

From Thanksgivings and More

From Thanksgivings and More


John said...

hooray for the intricacies of rugby! glad your three thanksgivings partially made up for my lack of (a traditional) one.

Sukhjeet said...

great pics and congrats on the library success. boo springboks! we all know the red and whites are the best!

Kent Mom said...

Hi AJ,

Loved your Thanksgiving stories. I hope you had a nice Christmas. I think of you often and am glad to hear from Ben that you are doing well. Faith Wilson