Please excuse any grammatical errors through these blogs as I realized the conversion from my computer to phone seems to distort the text.
The Little Engine that Could
Happy Halloween to all here and there its seems we have come upon the holiday out of ordinary circumstances, snow or for me heat. Funny enough it is usually these small unordinary things that we will recall back upon these days by no matter how unpleasant or pleasant we may find them, and that is exactly what leads me into this blog , when things dont go the way to you expect them to. First let me just start off by thanking Peace Corps for the wonderful medical kit they gave because I believe I have set the record for the most uses out of it, but I dont want to get too far ahead myself.
When I crossed the finish line last May after 12.5 laps that was supposed to be the end of it, I packed my flats along with everything else I didnt think I would need over these next 27 months and threw them in the attic. Little did I know this may just be the beginning and I would be writing home not for rainbow cookies, or maple syrup, but my pink Asics (not to discourage any rainbow cookies and maple syrup). That being said my beat up Nikes looked catalog fresh next to the ultra-marathoners shoes I stood next to. So there I stood with one of my fellow Peace Corps volunteers at what seemed to be the starting point of a 9K, if our complexion didnt stand out enough well we were also two women in reasonable running shape. So we got our numbers which seemed to be just drawn on a piece of cloth, and the race official handed us XL yellow t-shirts. We asked if we could retrieve our shirts after the race as we had nowhere to put them, since the race started and finished in different places, but it seemed we would be races in two shirts if we wanted to hold onto them. Being our first African race t-shirts and the fact that they said marathon we decided what the heck we wanted to keep them so two shirts it was like everyone else. The race was supposed to start at seven, but I figured it probably wouldnt start until well after. To my surprise everyone started walking over to the line 10 minutes to, and then it just started no whistle, no go, people just started running, and so did I. In the beginning of the race I was running more for the women in the community who seemed astonished I was able to keep up with the males, but by the end I was running to keep up with the male in front of me when I realized the course was completely unmarked and I had little desire to get lost in Africa. As I crossed the finish line, to my pleasure before I had ran 9 kilometers, the race officials asked me my time (good thing I was wearing a watch), but everyone seemed to just make up times anyway as I tried to explain I finished in 36 minutes not 6. At the end nearly everyone got medals and prizes anyway, we danced and ate and Im pretty sure the race made no money, but even though there had probably been more structure to our annual beer mile at Marist, this may have been one of my favorite races yet. That being said I returned home with my medal and was woken up at 5:50 the next morning by my house sister and brother who wanted to go running.
Perhaps it is less about the time, but about getting people moving, motivated, and healthy, but with my 56 kilometer race drawing nearer I still have that long run scheduled in each week. This week it was Sunday; Saturday I had field trip with my school to the Venda area and there was no way I could do it Monday through Friday between the dark and heat. Luckily Sunday didnt seem to be overbearingly hot and I was able to sleep in until 7:15. I got on my shoes, got out the door for 13 miles and returned 25 minutes later a bloody mess. However, I was long overdue if you can recall my epic history of running and falling, but even I knew this one was pretty bad. The boys carrying the wheelbarrow across the road stopped moving and starred, the truck that passed me turned around and came back not to ask if I needed help just to see, and the women doing laundry midway through whatever item just watched me run by as a big mess, as if running wasnt weird enough. As I ran through my village to get home as quickly as I could past all my community members whose mouths seemed to drop as they asked me if I was attacked I thought, oo this is embarrassing, and the further I ran the worse it looked. Fortunately I can say I fell, just as fluently as Im going running, in Xitsonga. I think I may have slightly scared my family, but I cleaned up, bandaged up, and waited a few moments before going out to redeem myself. I still had another 10 miles to get in and Im supposed to inspire people right? So what better way to do so then to get up and try again, this is what I learned my one of my favorite childhood books The Little Engine That Could. Well when I approached the spot I fell I told myself to be extra careful looking out for rocks, my bandages had already fallen off in the first 20 seconds of my redemption run, but I guess it was just one of those days. Same place, same thing, same people watching, additional cuts, this was definitely a run Ill remember. This time the women doing laundry stopped me and called me over to throw water on my legs soaking my shoes, but I was only a mile or so from home at that point. I ran pass the same villagers for the fourth time; second time once again a mess. Once more I opened the med kit cleaned up the same and additional cuts and retired for the day using one hand (the less cut up one) to complete the days tasks cooking, cleaning, attempting to type before I realized how much my fingers hurt to move. My housemother told me to put something on it, from what I made out a fruit juice or something, I figured I was about to be introduced to some pretty cool African healing, as she handed me a bottle with a light brown liquid. I rubbed it on and then read the bottle, which said brake fluid, keep out of contact with eyes and skin, if comes in contact with skin wash immediately. Well, either Africa needs a lesson on recycling which may be a fair question as my students were drinking water on the field trip yesterday out of a container labeled BLEACH, or I just put brake fluid on my leg. So I debated whether my leg was starting to feel numb, burning, or beginning to feel better as I walked over to get water to wash it off and decided to take my chances, when in Africa. I decided to postpone my run the following day and share my story which received a great deal of attention and many laughs. I remember when I was younger and my mom drew cuts all over me on Halloween for my dead soccer player costume, but this year I was ready for Halloween whether Africa was or not.
The African Tooth Fairy
Well you see, the kids dress up in costumes and then they go door to door asking for candy saying Trick or Treat. It never sounded ridiculous before, until I was the only one who knew what Halloween was. Then what do you do? Well then you go home and eat all the candy. Maybe Santa Clauses recognition comes from the fact that he can fly all over the world without having to deal with customs or visas, at least to the extent he is a big fat man dressed in red and white who delivers presents on Christmas Eve, but what about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and everybody else?
As I sat observing one of my fourth grade classes a boy came to the front of the room with a tooth he pulled out in the middle of class. The teacher sent him out to clean up and when he returned he took the tooth in a napkin. I suppose my principal may have thought this made me uncomfortable because she called me into her office. She said, You see, when our children are young we lie to them. I wasnt sure what she was referring to until I saw the tooth on her desk, I guess I figured anywhere a nine year old boy in any classroom would pull out his tooth after playing with it probably the whole day. However, my teacher had gone to my principal to tell her about the incident that I observed I suppose just to be cautious. She told me that when a child loses a baby tooth, they tell the children they must go to the place of ashes or where they were born, somewhere of the sort turn around and throw it in. If they fail to do so their second tooth wont grow in. She told me that is why the boy was so nervous about his tooth, because if she didnt give it back to him at the end of the day or if he lost it then he would worried about his adult tooth not growing in, which seems to justify the small distraction he made in class. I told her not to worry because we do the same thing and I started to explain the tooth fairy, which she found just as amusing as I felt explaining it. As we laughed over the stories we tell our children, I couldnt help but think who sounded more ridiculous. A tooth not growing back or a fairy that visits in the middle of the night and leaves a dollar for every tooth which is laid under the pillow you sleep on. I told her about the time my little brother lost his front tooth, but he didnt want to tell anyone because he wanted to find out if the tooth fairy was real and who can blame him, unfortunately he choose the wrong tooth to test his hypothesis.
And for the quote of the week for those studying education, teaching, or just observing math class and wondering what happen to apples
If you have five wives and I take three, how many do you have left?
All answers can be mailed directly to
Care of Jillian Corley
PO BOX 752
For next week we will work on probability which will consider the probability of your letter making it to South Africa, and the probability or your letter making it to South Africa without being opened.
Salani Kahle! Na mi rhandza.