I have been meaning to sit down and write another post, and now that I am about to reach my one year mark, it seems especially relevant to share what I’ve been up to lately.
To start, my life is continuing to be above and beyond what I ever could have imagined. While I have not been putting as much focus on starting new projects, I am content as a member of the community, with my regular activities and friendly acquaintances. As time goes by, I feel more and more a member of the community. A few weeks ago I attended a “baby welcoming” party in my village. I went alone, but had a great time visiting with people I knew, and ended up spending most of the day there, which I surprised even myself about.
This week I had the privilege of hosting a new volunteer who is still in training for a few days, so she could get an idea of my daily life as a volunteer in a rural village. It was wonderful to have the company, and to get to show her around my community, and for her to get a peek into this often surreal life of mine. I managed to introduce her to the Kgosi (Chief) of the village, my school, the clinic, the papata cooks (that delicious bread I often write and dream about…), police, my family, PACT club, and various other community members (look out Mom, the same fate awaits you as well!). As we walked around my village and met new people I was filled with a great sense of pride in my village. It is a wonderful feeling to be proud of a place that, less than a year ago, was completely foreign to me. I now refer to the children as “my kids” and can rely on the village to give a warm welcome to a new visitor.
Having a new volunteer with me also made me realize how much I have learned over the past year. It seems so recently that I was in her place, traveling across the country to visit a current volunteer, with a backpack full clothes and a head full of questions. I really enjoyed telling stories about my first few days in the village, how I got activities started, and how I cheer myself up on those occasional tough days. Often, the one-year mark can be a difficult time for volunteers, but having a visitor, then planning a small get-together with some friends the following weekend has kept any uneasiness at bay. Additionally, the schools have a one week mid-term break for Independence at the end of the month, and then my mom will be here at the end of October! I am so excited for all everything that is coming up, and know that it will be here before I know it.
I think winter is officially over now. I am remembering what it is like to step outside and immediately feel light-headed and sweaty, and to drink copious amounts of water. On the other hand, it is nice to say good-bye to my pea-coat and boots for the next 9 months.
I have started a plot in the school garden which I am quite excited about. Due to the chickens on my compound I never attempted a garden at my house, but the school garden should work out just fine. I planted tomatoes, squash, lettuce, and spinach and am just starting to see them popping up above the soil. If they actually grow and the kids don’t pick them, the harvest will be a great addition to my already-pretty-good diet. The thought of maybe getting a real salad gives me goose-bumps.
Back to my usual routine at school and in the village after a fun weekend with a couple friends and an adorable pup to celebrate our 1 year anniversary in Botswana! We had a pretty low-key weekend, but it was a lovely break from kwa bush.
Yesterday I was organizing the files on my computer and I came across a folder containing 20 GB of music I thought I had lost when my iTunes crashed over a year ago. It was like Christmas! I am having a great time listening to some new music, since I have listened to my old stuff a lot in the last year.
This morning as I was looking for something to keep me occupied at school I was given the idea to make a memory game with English and Setswana words with pictures. It was definitely a good project for taking up time, plus I got to draw pictures and solidify my personal limitations in drawing things like cows. But hopefully the kids will use them and learn some English in the process (not to mention snicker at my artistic shortcomings).
It’s funny, I have a lot that I could talk about, but the events in print could not be done justice without being here, experiencing it. For example: all of the teachers at my school just had a mid-day meeting to discuss going back to the summer time-schedule. This should be an easy decision; during summer, everything shifts up 30 minutes to accommodate (ineffectually) the stifling heat. In my American perspective, the school head should just say, “Okay, summer is upon us! Let us start at 7:30 instead of 8, like we do every summer.” But apparently this very important decision must be debated at length. It is okay though. If there is one thing I have learned in my 12 months-and-counting here is that everything just takes longer. I have daily encounters where I think about how funny/ridiculous something is, and how I could never explain it fully to someone who is not here.
As I was working on my heat stroke while waiting for the combi with a friend the other day we were getting loopy and making up variations for the PC slogan “The toughest job you’ll ever love”. While this is a poignantly fitting slogan, it also sets itself up for snarky alterations. Due to my compromised state of mind (the heat) I will pass on sharing some of the gems we came up with. But let me just say it was quite entertaining. It is easy to make fun of what I am doing here, and roll my eyes at some of the situations I find myself in, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else right now (Besides, of course, sitting at a café drinking a cappuccino, getting a massage and taking an hour long shower…).
As always, thank you all for your love and support in this crazy adventure that is my life.