I’m excited to announce a new series on Running with Elands called Village Voices. In this series, you’ll virtually meet some of my friends, host family, and coworkers; these are the people who make my Peace Corps service so memorable.
This week you’ll meet Dikeledi, or DK (picture below). DK was one of my first friends in my village, and she is also my Setswana tutor. She has a great sense of humor, a quality we quickly bonded over (and pretty good taste in people, obviously). Additionally, DK is one of the most reliable people I know—there have been times that I’ve forgotten we had a tutoring session, but she always shows up without fail! Another time, she helped me with a session at the local high school, rushing to come over after finishing up her own project. Last week, we hung out outside of work for the first time to watch movies, eat popcorn, and be lazy on a Saturday afternoon.
I met DK through YASPO, the local youth sports organization that I help out at occasionally. She grew up in the village next to mine and lives there with her mother, sister, daughter, and nieces. Her daughter, Kanego, is a very bright seven-year-old who I had the pleasure to meet last week. DK told me she’s very proud of her daughter, who doesn’t easily succumb to peer pressure. DK has much reason to be proud of herself; after graduating secondary (high) school, she volunteered with the local youth centre for a few months and then became a coach with YASPO. As a coach, she worked with students to teach them about HIV, gender-based violence, and related topics. Recently, DK transferred over to the administration side of YASPO. Jury’s still out on whether or not she prefers admin, but she did admit to a love of spreadsheets that I definitely share!
For the future, DK wants to go to school for public management and help build YASPO. Eventually, she wants to switch to genetics, a subject she both enjoyed and excelled at in school. She’s also passionate about environmental sustainability. Her favorite part about growing up in our community is that she was not only her parents’ child, she was considered a child of the community, and she cited that unity and the high level of female participation (especially in local committees) were some of the strengths here. DK noted that it was, however, tough growing up and realizing that you were following a different path from your friends, and that the community needs to work on discrimination against people on the basis of ability, socioeconomic status, and health.
You’ll usually see DK sporting a baseball hat, shirt, and jeans. Apparently, she’s a master at cooking a local dish called samp (although I have yet to verify this claim) although she much prefers cleaning to cooking. We also share a love of music; her favorite artists include Akon, Kendrick Lamar, Jason Derulo, Drake, Sjava, Kwesta, Kenny Makweng, Lusand, and Amadodana ase Wesele. Check out her top song selections at the bottom of this post!
I enjoy having DK as a tutor. Sometimes we come in with a set lesson, other times we freestyle and I ask her every few seconds to spell out what she previously said (I’m a visual learner). I’m really lucky to have her as a tutor; she is fully fluent in both languages and has helped me countless times not only in teaching me, but also in helping me translate documents. I’m pretty sure her favorite word is “engy?” (slang for “eng,” or “what”). DK took me under her wing early on, making me feel less like an outsider at events. I’m so grateful to her for her warmth and generosity.
A typical day for DK looks like this:
- Wake up at 5:30 AM to bathe the kids (they have a tap at the house, although it often doesn’t work—at those times, they have to buy water from local sellers)
- Cook breakfast at 7 AM and get the kids ready for school
- Bathe herself at 7:30 AM
- Leave home to walk to work around 8:30, arriving around 9:30
- Work on copies, reporting, or other admin tasks until 5 PM or so
- Arrive home near 6 PM and bathe the kids again
- Mom cooks dinner and the family eats close to 7:30 PM, then DK washes the dishes
- She watches TV (usually Muvango, Rhythm City or Uzalo) and then bathes again, finishing around 9:30
- Bedtime at 10:30 PM, then the next day repeats
Do you have any questions for DK? Write them below in the comments! [Please note that all comments will be shared with DK]