As Caity,a YAGM volunteer in the northwestern part of South Africa, comes closer to the end of her service year, she reflects:
The 10 Things I Love About My Community
Someone will always go with me
If I’m going to the store or headed to church for some reason, I never have to go alone. Similar to my image of the American South, people sit on porches to share stories and cigarettes. I can always find someone on a neighboring porch to walk with me.
Everyone is Auntie and Uncle
Showing respect in South Africa is easy, just address an older person with these titles. In Afrikaans, it is Auntie/Tannie and Uncle/Oom. It is respectful without being formal like Sir/Mam, and it gives me a chance to open conversation with an older person (not always easy but usually worth it).
Raw Musical Talent
The hymns at our church are unaccompanied, and no one is shy to sing out. After years of needing hymnals/powerpoints and organs/cantors, I have learned that they can all sing me under the table.
I make a lot of bread these days. I love that bread here is not the dreaded “carbohydrates,” it is just delicious.
Greetings really matter
People here ask “how are you” with such habit that when I forget that part of the greeting, I still get a “fine, thank you, and you?”
Everyone has nicknames
At the beginning of the year, people would give me there proper names, only for me to get completely confused later. Everyone has a name, and a nickname, a lot of people have two.
Pedestrians have right of way
Unlike the rest of South Africa, where you can’t even walk in a parking lot without fearing for your life, it is great that here I can walk down the middle of the road knowing drivers will stop. It helps that there aren’t many cars at all.
There are a lot of windmills around that add some variety to the skyline and generally make me smile.
I’m glad I never had to wear a uniform, but I think the school uniform for Rietfontein is cute. The colors, forest green or light blue, are great. It’s less of a hassle than homework, so it can’t be too bad.
Someone is always playing music
On quiet nights when our TV isn’t working, it is nice to sit outside and hear the distant music drifting in from someone else’s house. Sometimes you just want peace and quiet, but sometimes it’s nice to know people are having a good time.