Saturday, September 20, 2008

My new address!

So here I sit, in my pumpkin, thinking about everything. What an experience I have had in the last two months. I have journeyed across the world to this amazing country where I have met many incredible people both American and South African. I fell in love with this country practically from the first step off the plane. I was greeted with smiles and “hello how was your flight” my response was long! 44 of us began down a journey with nothing more than we could carry and a hope that we in some way would change the world. This belief is the idealistic part of all of us in the Peace Corps and I would like to think that everyone has some part of them that wants to change the world. For me this journey as exemplified by the quote I literally carry with me everywhere; “Be the change we wish to see in the world” ~Gandhi. The best way to learn is to do and boy have I learned by doing here. I have learned a new language completely different from any other, I have learned about the South African culture and the spirit of Umbuntu, I have learned about myself and what I am willing to compromise on, I have learned the spirit and the soul can be seen in a smile. Most importantly I have learned the true meaning of kindness, this I found in my two South African families who willingly and graciously opened their homes and their hearts to me, a stranger who is from a different country and is learning about the life of a South African family. Kindness is also seen in the staff during PST and their concern for all of us was something that amazed me. I have made friends here that I will carry with me where ever I go. Friends who would travel more than hour to see you when you are having doubts, friends who are genuinely concerned when you say you are hurt or sick. These are people who exemplify characteristics which some only wish to portray. I feel so blessed to have been apart of this process and to be a part of the amazing group that is SA-18. I will dearly miss you and I have taken a lot from you. Thank you for continuing on the journey.
This morning I came to a decision that was hard for me, because of the love I have for this country and the people I have met. The decision was not one I took lightly and I have thought about it a great deal. I will be leaving Peace Corps South Africa within the next week. I have decided to resign my post as a member of SA-18. I talked with my APCD this morning and she is helping to organize my departure. I came here with the hopes of changing the lives of people and intern I had my life changed. I take with me the true spirit of kindness and of hope for it was shown and exemplified to me every day I was here. While I am sad to leave the friends who for the last 2 months I have considered my family, I am excited to begin the next part of my life. I will be going back to school in January to work on a second degree. So the title of my blog Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude is attitudes about things have changed and grown. The importance of compassion and kindness is immeasurable.

This is something I wrote yesterday and truly believe that my journey here was a success. I was successfully integrated into my South African family and I learned lessons which I will take with me for the rest of my life.

The Searcher

The search for contentment, fulfillment and self
Takes a woman a thousand miles

She travels on the winds of change
Carrying with her a torch of hope

Learning along the way the truth
Of kindness, compassion and faith

Believing she stands up
For herself, for others, and her ideals

She fights those who doubt her
Simply by just living

She knows the fight she fights
Has no winner or loser

For victory is not measured by winning
Victory is seen in her eyes, in her heart, and in her spirit

She set out to change the world
Only to have the world change her instead

~To everyone out there who supported me in my decision to join the Peace Corps thank you from the bottom of my heart!

~To my South African “Family”---you taught me so many wonderful things and I will always stay in touch and remember you. THANK YOU!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hi everybody!

Makayla's internet connection is too slow for Blogger, so she asked me to post the link to the pictures she posted on flikr!

I'll also be sure to add her new address as soon as possible, too.



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My house looks like a PUMPKIN!!!!

Hello all,

as we finish up our final week as PCTs and prepare to sware-in as volunteers I find myself missing the comforts and things from home and sometimes think, "it would be easier if I were home" then I realize that I only "want" to go home for a min. and would instantly regret my decision to go home once the excitment of seeing everyone dissappeared. All is well and I still am very happy here in South Africa!

Last week the week of Aug 25 we went for our site visits here are some details.

I have two schools, one is huge and really close to my house and the other is small and just down the road about 3 km. My village is huge as well and I am about 40km outside of Tzaneen near Modjadji (both of which are on most maps). When we sware in as volunteers and go to our sites I will go open a P.O Box and will have that address as soon as possible. The next post I hope to have the address as well as a "Wish List" of different things to send me :)

My house is an orange roundavoul (SP?) with a green roof....hence the title of the post. It actually looks like a pumpkin. However, it is really pretty big on the inside and I have lots of room. And as another volunteer put it no dark corners for creatures to hide in :) I am very excited to begin this part of the PC journey and cannot wait to make it my home.

All is well here in South Africa :)

Miss and Love you all>

Mom, have not yet recieved the packages? Don't know what is going on with that, but I have not received anything from you. hopefully i will get them soon. Will try and call again in future. if you want me to call you guys and want to put money in my account to do that instead of you calling me that is fine. Or if you just want to put money in my account anyways that would be great too! :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Hello All,

I am still loving life over here. It is an amazing experience and I am learning a lot about myself as well as about South African culture. I really feel at home here and it is sad to think I will be leaving my "family" (the PCTs, the Training Staff, and my homestay). Though sad, I am excited to be moving on in the PC process. Here is some general information about my site placement, which I will be visiting next week!

I am in the Mopani District in Limpopo.
The village is Ga-Matshwi.
I will be working with two PS (primary schools).

According to a list I found my village has load shedding from 18:00-20:30 on MWF. I am trying to find somekind of a map, but it is not working out right yet. so hang on. No luck if you want to try to search I am about half-way between Polokwane and Ginyine (not sure on the Spellings). Good Luck Looking, if you find a map, please post as comment or send to Andrea so she can post.

I am out,



******edit from Andrea*******

I wasn't able to find a map of Ga-Matshwi, but google did give me one for Limpopo. Since I had no idea how to post it as a comment, I just decided to add this to Makayla's blog. That should give us a general idea of what part of SA she's in. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It is actually me

Hello World,

So for now it is actually me posting. I have been in Africa now for 3 weeks. I am absolutely in love with it here. everything from the people to the culture. My family is great and consists of 6 brothers and sisters ranging from 7 months to 17 years. Everything is going great and the internet is kind of slow so I will keep it short and sweet.

Love to all,

MaKayla (Lerato)


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Dumela" from Africa!

Hi everybody! I just heard from Makayla's mom today--Makayla called home this morning. Here's what she said:

Everything's still great! Makayla's in a small town (about half the size of Byron Center) in a providence in the norther part of South Africa, not too far from Zimbabwe. She was with her group of 7 PCTs (which I think means Peace Corps Trainees) and they had been practicing taking a taxi downtown using the local language, which is Sepedi. She's living with a host family that has 6 brothers and sisters, 2 gardens, 2 trucks, a real bath tub, and... cable! The host family also has several animals, including roosters (which keep Makayla up all night because they're noisy) and a dog that just had puppies. Being an animal lover, Makayla says that it's very difficult to not pet and cuddle the puppies, because they are not pets, but work animals. They are there to guard the home. She does have one pet, though... a spider living in her closet. She's named it "Bob." We didn't ask how big it was! Haha. Anyway, she'll live there until September 14, when she graduates from the training portion of her Peace Corps experience.

Makayla's African name is Leratŏ, which means "love." Right now she has a calling card and she won't have a cell phone until after training. There is an internet cafe downtown, but the connection is very slow, so she's opting to make phone calls.

2 people have already gone home, but Makayla was not informed why. She's definately not heading in the home direction yet, because she loves what she's doing... she was even able to get her soccer ball out and kick it around with some of the kids.

One think Makayla has requested is for people to send her letters! Several people are getting mail, but she hasn't received any... her address is:

Makayla Gusching, PCT
PO Box 9536
Pretoria 0001
South Africa

We're not sure how much the postage is yet, but will find out this weekend. For now, if you send her one, just bring it to the post office and ask them how much postage is.

Don't forget to say hello to her and give her some support, let her know what's going on in your life, too! "Dumela" is the word for "Hello" in Sepedi. :)

Peace Out!~Makayla, via Andrea

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Makayla is officially in South Africa!

Hi to all of Makayla's friends! I'm Andrea, and I'll be updating Makayla's blogs for the time she's acclamating to South Africa.

Makayla called her parents this morning (Wednesday) to say that she has arrived in South Africa and everything is fine. It is beautiful there! The day-time temps are in the 70's and it's cooler at night. The Peace Corps is taking very good care of all of the new volunteers, so she's happy and excited to be there.

Makayla was given the "Team Leader" title in D.C. (not sure if it carries over to Africa) and she's taking the lead of about 11 people.
Overall, she's doing great, which is wonderful to hear!

Peace Out
~Makayla via Andrea