Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Seder in Our Home

There are about 90 Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in Lesotho. Relative to the local Basotho population, they are all really rather alike. But amongst themselves, they are a diverse lot. Some are recent college graduates, and some are retirees. Some have been abroad many times, while for others, Lesotho is their first moment outside the U.S. Some are teachers, some are musicians, some are lost, some are determined, some are way outside their comfort zones, some will not last the full two years, some will extend their stay for a third year, and they are all trying to get by in circumstances that are more difficult than where they were before while still making a difference in the lives of people they would never have met had they not applied to the Peace Corps.

On the evening of Passover, Kathy and I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the spirituality, and gaining insights into the spiritual diversity, of the PCVs currently serving in Lesotho. We hosted a Seder. For those of you who, as I did, find this to be a new word, it is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover. So that evening, about a dozen PCVs, most of whom were Jewish, a couple members of the Peace Corps Lesotho staff, my wife and I gathered together at our house. The volunteers prepared all the food, including many selections that were vegan, specifically out of consideration for me. I was touched by the thoughtfulness of that, and I must say that the two volunteers who organized the Seder and did most of the cooking are to be commended on many fronts, including that one.

But most importantly, what they did was provide an opportunity for themselves and their fellow PCVs to engage in family traditions, share family stories, and feel a little less homesick than they otherwise would have on what was for them a holiday that is very much about family. I am delighted and thankful that Kathy and I were able to provide the home in which they could all feel at home for an evening of camaraderie, fantastic food, spiritual reflection, fond reminiscences, feminist thought (a special thanks to the one particular volunteer who brought her own version of the texts), and joyous song. Indeed, in hopes that you can get some small sense of what the evening was like, here is the group, in song (and very dim light):

And let's not forget the hand puppets!

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