Pre-Service Training (PST)

Pre-Service Training (PST)

“Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do.” – Chronicles of Narnia

Day 1

“Peace Corps will threaten to break you”

“Some people cry all the way through PST.  This happened to one girl and we were like ‘will she go home?’ But she ended up being one of our most successful volunteers”

I can already see the culture shock coming on but what are these terrible no good very bad events that are coming?  At least the bad things will happen in a beautiful training center:




Luckily we have an amazing country director who has refocused the training to how we can best serve the community and not how the Peace Corps can best serve the volunteers.  If you couldn’t tell from that she comes from a public health background! Yay.




Eager for cultural experience outside the bubble they kept us in during week one (see above), I went to church!

I sat down next to a family that called someone over to sit next to me.  I thought it was because I was a cool new person, but Gertrude was there to translate.  I raised my eyes at, “only the rich can be shepherds”. “I am only translating”, she laughed.  This statement was for shock value and his real point followed; that anyone can be a leader and we must all attend to those who are lost and drinking on the street.  Drinking is then mentioned a lot, apparently a huge problem.  One trainer told me that men show their machismo by spending a certain percentage of the family income on alcohol.

Uncle Joe (one of the trainers) told us beforehand that the service would last an hour an a half.  Three hours later the minister asked all of us from the U.S.A. to come up and say a few words.  Everyone was really welcoming and waved at us while we stood at the front singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’, not very well I might add.  It paled in comparison to their flawless four part harmony they used in each song.  Singing over twenty songs in Damara (a click language) was my favorite. Gertrude lent me her hymn book and would sing at me when I had trouble. 

There are at least four different sounding clicks that I picked up on, but I can’t do more than two.  Three of them all come out the same in my mouth.  What really impressed me is that the sermon was in four languages that everyone seemed to understand.  Damara, Otjiherero, Afrikaans, and English. 

It wasn’t appropriate to take pictures but it was a hall of a couple hundred people, some in the traditional dress.  As you leave you shake the hands of the elders.  The men gave us the three-part African handshake, but the women give a normal one.  It was a good test run for when I have to go to church with my host family, and in my community.  I guess I’m religious now, but we’ll see how long it lasts as I am broken in.

So far so good.

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One Comment

  • Barbara Damon

    Fascinating experience. Soak it all up. The words “cultural shock” is obviously an understatement. Wish I could be there with you.

    Love, Baba

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