Unexpected Spoken Appreciation

September 9, 2008 at 11:23 am 1 comment

When we were being trained in South Africa as new Peace Corps Volunteers, one of the things they told us about was “unspoken appreciation.”  They told us that despite the hours of committment and devotion to our communities  and the improvements and changes we make as volunteers, expect unspoken appreciation.  Expect to leave your community with your own personal satisfaction in knowing that you did contribute something over the two years, but do not expect that you will be thanked for it.  This isn’t to say that the people of South Africa are not a thanking people, this is far from the truth.  Many people will be thankful for what you have done, but afraid or unsure of how to express that thanks to you. 

After hearing this during training, I was prepared for it, but didn’t realize how much a sincere “thank you” here and there was needed to keep a PCVolunteer moving forward and proud.  That is why I was so surpised and uplifted last Thursday, September 4, 2008. 

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry (subtitle: What I do in my free time…) I have been teaching a group of adults in my village twice a week (Thursday and Friday) since June 2008.  During the first months of the course I was teaching them how to start a business and to write a business plan.  We also learned about managing money and budgeting.  We completed the course with an exam, where everyone passed the exam successfully and received a certificate of achievement. 

This past Thursday, when we started our new unit on First Aid, we were all in for a surprise.  After the lesson was over for the day, one of the mothers stood up and spoke.  She said that she has really appreciated all that I have done for her.  By providing her with a free education and through my teaching, I have opened and rejuvinated her mind.  She has been given a new sense of life, vitality, and energy to improve her situation.  She is sharing the information with her family and helping them to start their own businesses.  Because of these things, she felt she must tell me, in some way, how much she appreciated what I have done for her.  That is when she presented me with an award. 

The award was beautiful from the moment it appeared.  Encased in a shining blue and gold frame and a proud blue star in the center, the award was shocking.  She said that she had composed a letter for me, all of it coming from her own heart.  She read it for us and I stood there in amazement.  I couldn’t believe if it was true and if the compliments I was receiving were deserved. 

Afterwards, I hugged her and thanked her repeatedly but nothing seemed enough to describe how much it all meant to me.  It was a verbal and physical thankyou.  Something I could cherish and show for the rest of my life.  It was a boost of encouragement and strength that has uplifted me.  I walked away that day standing tall because I knew that my work was not just benefiting me, but others as well. 

We ended the class with the most delicious tea and cakes (the same mother also surprised us with home-made cakes).  We all agreed that September 4, 2008 would be a day to remember.

Below, the award and the written description.




“Thank you so much for everything that you have done for me.   Your courage, strength, and effort are highly appreciated.  I thank God for sending you to South Africa all the way from the United States of America.  You have been the greatest teacher of them all.  You really really deserve an award of the best teacher of them all.

And I promise you that the information you have given me, I will treasure it as the most important gift of them all.  I am saying this from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you so much!


From: Kefilwe Morutingaya “


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

“NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS!” From Runner to Shepherd

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Faith Wilson  |  September 23, 2008 at 3:03 am

    WOW! What a gift. Ben’s Mom, again. Sorry about the double comment on the goat. I am trying to figure out how this comment thing works.

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Just in case you were wondering…

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps

Here are some famous blogs to check out from three of my good Peace Corps buddies!

A.J. KUMAR ajinsa.blogspot.com JOEY CARDELLA http://njebe.blogspot.com SARAH HORNS http://hornzyinafrica.blogspot.com

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