Being a Peace Corps Volunteer brings many charges: create sustainable change, learn from the host country’s culture while respectfully imparting the United States’, and entertaining oneself during downtime. The latter can manifest itself in wonderfully productive ways as well as delightfully unproductive ways. A friend of mine tries to throw playing cards through a banana; another friend once wanted to see how long he could go without dropping a deuce (9 days); I’ve thoroughly analyzed the colors of a candle and the boiling bubbles on its wick. Today, though, I daresay I was ridiculously productive with my downtime: I compiled a list of why being a PCV in South Africa is comparable to the magical world of Harry Potter. Intrigued? It’s because I put an attention-capturing spell on this website. Sucker. Here we go:
- All PCVs encounter the Sorting Hat during Training. At the beginning, this hat finds each PCV as they are divided into their various target languages and again, seven weeks later, as the meek-turned-trained Volunteers discover the permanent placements of their site, school, and…House (or hut, or rondavel).
- There is a certain Peace Corps staff member who, during Training, holds much wisdom about the PCVs’ site placements. She has long, flowing silver hair and half-moon spectacles (it’s almost too perfect). She is the embodiment of Albusa Dumbledore, and we are her Army.
- There is forever a British influence on English here. The flavours and behaviours of my life have changed quite a bit.
- It’s rainy season now and scary, dark thunderheads roll in almost every day – obviously the Grim. It’s Sirius-ly frightening when you have more leaks than buckets.
- The head honcho in the country’s schooling arena is the Ministry of Education…
There is an abundance of interesting and terrifying new animals, of whose powers you know naught. I desperately need Hagrid’s class on Care for Magical Creatures because my instinctive reflexes are always the exact opposite.
- You absolutely don’t need a Time Turner but sometimes, with “Africa time”, you feel like you’re caught in one.
- With eleven languages whizzing around and people always adamantly pointing at things, I wouldn’t say it’s out of place to think they’re trying to use Parsletongue to levitate items.
- People here are quite stylish and portraying yourself as clean and fashionable is a sign of respect towards others…it’s dress robes on the daily.
- In line with clothing, all learners across the nation have these uniforms that are just impeccably Harry Potter-esque. Bold school colors, v-neck sweaters, embroidered crests, and sometimes even more English flair comes out with the endearing pairing of cuffed shorts and knee socks.
- There is a traditional, homemade Zulu beer called utshwala – the butterbeer of the Motherland.
- For some reason, mailboxes here are called ‘pigeonholes’. It’s kind of in line with owls delivering letters, right? A stretch – I know – but in the end, it’s all avian mail.
- People are ~petrified~ about the presence of witchcraft. So…thanks to them for supporting my claim.
- When someone hands you a plate of food, it’s sometimes like having a heaping bowl of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavo(u)r Beans…you really have no idea what you’re about to get into and once you do figure it out, you’ve committed.
- At least in my situation there is an abundance of candle use, so every night I get to ‘Lumos’ all over the place.
- The Hogsmeade of Peace Corps South Africa is Pretoria. You need permission to go there and it holds all sorts of desirable goodies. Will someone please ship me the invisibility cloak I forgot?
- Certain grades undergo national tests every year and the grade 12s have a long, drawn-out, terrifying Matric test during October and November. These are essentially the O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S., respectively.
- Girls play netball so if you really use your imagination with the ball and hoops sans backboard, you can ~conjure up~ a Quidditch match.
- Your pee bucket can be a real cauldron of mixtures. A true Potions-lover’s paradise.
- I just got a bicycle and, in comparison to my 45-minute walk to school beforehand, it’s practically a Firebolt.
- There is a humorous, ever-present reminder that a whole day spent riding taxis is unbelievably opposite of apparation.
- Whenever you visit the pit latrine, everything that happens in there just disappears forever – it’s magic! (I recently heard someone referencing them as ‘longdrops’ – so funny. Perhaps I can make an addition to those upscale Longchamp purses… “Longdrops, hitting the shelves of sophistication this spring. Keep your eyes peeled and your toilet paper unsealed.”)
Alright, Muggles, that’s all I have for now. This is continuously at the forefront of my mind, never fear, so perhaps addendums are in our future. The top HP powers that I wish I could have are: ‘Relashio’, which can make boiling water, ‘Accio’ to summon things from town to my home, and the Marauder’s Map – not so much for people watching, but so I know where the poop and bones are; my feet are really good at finding them even when my eyes aren’t. With Halloween coming up, someone please dress up in magical style for me! I hope the amount of nerd in this post hasn’t turned you off of reading future ones. Until next time… ~Mischief managed~