I hear you complaining about needing new pictures, and I HAD some… And, for the first time since owning my camera, I accidentally ERASED them this morning before coming to the computer lab… So please make due with some old ones again.
And yes, am feeling very upset at the accidental erasure, because I spent 4 hours trying to photograph an electrical storm on Friday, got ONE picture of lightning, and now it is gone. It was much more fun, by the way, to put the camera away after two hours of frustrating attempts (have YOU ever tried to photography a strike of lightning?) and simply enjoy the lightning display. Oh well. The picture wasn’t that good anyway.
And the others I lost were more of flora that I can’t identify and a series of photos representative of “a day in the life of Karen Kaye”: snaps of my dorm room (now that it’s mine), snaps of the food I’m eating, what laundry day looks like, etc. Read: BORING. J And those lost will be easy to retake (except of the blooming flora I had that is no longer blooming).
Deanna reminded me last week that I’m at my three-month mark after having had arrived in South Africa. It is a significant milestone for me because, in addition to being at the half-way mark of feeling icky emotionally (according to Peace Corps statistics), it was at the three-month mark that I was returning home from my first big volunteer trip I made to Alaska in 2006.
So far, the trips couldn’t be more different!
I’ve mentioned before that I find my professional career (writing/teaching) to be draining and I’ve come to find gardening a creative release. What I truly, truly love to do is go hiking in the woods! At one point I thought, “I need to find a job that keeps me hiking in the woods!” Hiking in the woods and getting PAID for it! Can you think of anything more divine?
However, with prayer and discernment, I came to believe that I have gifts and talents with teaching and that the Higher Power would rather me be sharing these gifts and talents than hiking in the woods! J
But I really, really do love hiking in the woods and love talking to people about things we find in the natural world. One of my favorite things to do back in Kentucky is volunteer with Bernheim Forest. It was by volunteering with Bernheim that I gained enough volunteer experience (and a certification in interpretation: a credential that is helpful to have if you want to work in parks) that in the summer of 2006, I applied for a volunteer position with the Eagle River Nature Center in Chugach State Park in Alaska.
Thanks to the Alaskan State Parks Program, I was invited to work with the Eagle River Nature Center in Chugach State Park for three months (the summer season). In exchange of “work hours” for the Nature Center, I was housed and fed, but most importantly, I had three months to explore the wonderland of Alaska!
And a wonderland Alaska is!
I loved every second I was in Alaska. Every second.
Here in South Africa, well, I’m trying.
But the trips couldn’t be more different: with AK, I chose the location, with South Africa, someone else chose (and I didn’t know where I’d end up); with AK, I was living out my “dream job” of a naturalist interpreter; with South Africa, I’m in the exhausting world of education; in AK, the region is lush and green with water and trees everywhere; in SA, the region (where I am) is hot and dry, with little vegetation or water anywhere.
Now please, please, don’t anyone get up in arms about Karen being depressed or hating South Africa. I am neither depressed nor hating South Africa. I’m certain, CERTAIN that I will come to love and adore South Africa in the same way I love and adore Alaska. I’m just not there yet! J
And I’m excited to work in the schools in South Africa. I have some great ideas for both the primary school and the college, and can’t wait to get started. (Peace Corps urges us to wait to begin projects and to observe our communities/school systems to better understand the South African ways before we “jump right in.”) I’ve visited the village clinic and police station in hopes of finding connections and ways to work in the community and I’m soon to visit the village’s youth center where I’m sure to find work.
So, yes, I’m at my three-month milestone. I am thinking a lot about my Alaskan trip; I’m thinking so hard my former boss at ERNC she emailed me this week! What a treat to hear from her! She wants to know of all of my new adventures and I look forward to “chatting” with her a bit. Hi Asta, if you’re reading!!
I promise new pictures in future and look forward to meeting my next milestone: six months. It will be interesting to see what has changed!
Much love, Karen/Molebogeng
Ps. The photo here is of my beloved water spot here in South Africa near my host-family's home. I was hoping to contrast it with a photo from my AK trip, but Facebook won't let me copy/paste. I have some great shots of my AK trip in Facebook, with the following album names: Chugach State Park, AK Summer 2006, Eagle River Nature Center summer 2006, Alaska native plants summer 2006 and Day cruise, Prince William Sound, summer 2006.
Pss. If any of you DO know how to copy and paste photos from Facebook, let me know... Although Facebook probably doesn't allow it...