Saturday, November 24, 2012


This was the first Thanksgiving that I didn't spend on Long Island with my family. Instead, I spent it surrounded by gum trees, gas burners, and my north KZN Peace Corps family. Our dinner was potluck style (like all Thanksgiving dinners should be) and everyone did their best to recreate favorite dishes from home, or something that represented harvest food. Someone had sweet potatoes covered, so I didn't make my favorite dish made by my mom each year: sweet potatoes with apple slices and cinnamon. Sorry Michael: the sweet potatoes were good, but not as good as what I know my family in New York enjoyed on Thursday :)

I brought apple and pear crisp. Others brought green salad, beets, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and chicken to replace the lack of available turkey in the area. This year Thanksgiving was spent with two families: the Peace Corps family and Briana's South African host family.

This holiday is not celebrated here, obviously because there would be no need for South Africans to rejoice in the arrival of the Pilgrims to the east coast of the United States centuries ago. We did our best to show them what it is all about for us. When everyone arrived, we were asked to make a hand turkey. You remember this from elementary school: trace your hand, each finger is a feather, the thumb is the head. I was part of the last group to arrive, and worked together with B's seventeen-year-old host brother Sphamandla on his. "What do I do now? Why are you coloring that in?" We each wrote our name on our hand turkey and Bostick'ed (sticky putty) them to the wall of the living room. (Picture below!) On a separate sheet, as each person stuck their turkey to the wall, they were also asked to list one thing that they were thankful for. The page was full of different colored gel pen responses in different sizes and handwritings.

One of Peace Corps' three main goals for its volunteers is that they share American culture with those that they live and work with. This Thanksgiving after all the love and support that our host families show us, we gave back to them and demonstrated just how thankful we are for their welcoming us into their homes and their lives.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all the usual stuff: family, friends, health, happiness. But I think more than anything at the moment, I'm thankful for all the people that have opened up their arms, their homes, and their lives to me these past few months. Obviously I'm talking a lot about my host family the Mngomezulus here, but also the staff at my school who treat me like and refer to me as their daughter. To the learners who laugh at me when I attempt to communicate with them in Zulu, come to me with list of English vocabulary words that they want to know, and ask me if we can go to the storeroom to find a book to read. To the woman sitting at the taxi stop every morning on my way to school who yells "Good morning my friend!" as I pass by. And last but not least, to the other PCVs who have made me feel not so alone when things are tough or not so far away when I need someone to share a story or a laugh with, whether you're telling me about an awkward moment created by your principal or how many bats you've killed in your home. Thank you for being my support and my encouragement.


  1. Diana,
    I am so happy that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving in South Africa. Sometimes different is eye opening. We missed you at the Pereira's. Derek had us all listen to your voice message. There was not a dry eye. We drank to you and know you were there with us in spirit like we were with you. Looking forward to your next blog and hoping everything is going well. Love Trish

  2. Diana,
    Just thinking about you and the adventure you have embarked on. I know you are doing a great job with all the learners you come in contact with. Hope all is well. Enjoy every minute and think about the impact you are making on their lives. Love Trish