Saturday, May 3, 2008

May 1, 2008

6 more weeks of training before we swear-in as official Peace Corps volunteers. Counting down the days to privacy, work and permanence but trying to enjoy training as well.

For most of us, the challenge posed by these first two months of training is a lack of freedom (home at sunset, no drinking, no social life, no bathrooms, no meal options, etc.) But there are certainly perks here and there-- one of which is learning a lot about Botswana culture and the HIV/AIDS work being done throughout the country.

I am dying to get my hands into the actual prevention work I’ve come for but someone gave me very good advice before I left which I’m trying to follow:

Don’t rush any of it… enjoy every second for what is it…even the challenging times have their lessons, perks and beauties.

In honor of this great advice I’ve opted to let you into a slice of my Life In Training so you may savor it as I am attempting to.

Training Days go something like this…

6:30 bring bucket of bathwater/pee/toothpaste residue to the latrine (being careful not to slosh)
6:35 wash bucket thoroughly at outside tap, dodge laundry and chickens in the yard
6:45 heat water for first “bucket bath” of the day
7:00 finish bath and shiver into clothes while host mother yells to hurry up for tea
7:15 drink tea with host mother while babies cuddle and beg for food
7:30 give in to babies and feed them sour porridge or cornflakes while chit chatting with mum and older sisters
7:45 say good-bye to host mother, 4 daughters, three neighbors
7:50 walk to meet Ame (fellow PCV) with trailing host sisters, watch sunrise
7:55 pray that Ame’s host mother stops drilling us on our Setswana because we’re going to be late for class
8:05 meet Teacher Soma and other PCVs, Anel and Hael for Setswana lessons
8:30 spend time repeating Setswana while brushing off fire ants from feet
9:00 decide to study with feet extended off the ground to avoid fire ants
9:15 shift chair because sun has peaked over house and is blinding but warm and comfortable too 9:30 break for “tea” and take a walk with Anel, Hael and me around our neighborhood
9:45 answer a thousand “dumelas” from curious neighbors, receive hugs from village children
10:00 return to Soma for last hour of language
11:00 lather in sunscreen and begin walk to school in blazing afternoon sun
11:30 curse Soma for making us practice our Setswana with every passing person
11:45 buy apples and water from the store, marvel at how dirty our feet have managed to become so early in the day
12:00 meet other PCVs from the Lifeskills group. hug. compare host family stories from previous night and strange Botswana lunches
1:30 receive technical training on HIV/AIDS biology and epidemiology, cultural integration, Botswana geography, political hierarchy, the Lifeskills program, etc. etc.
3:30 break for tea and run to post office or pharmacy
4:00 return for more technical training or guest speakers from the Ministry of Education or PCVoffices
5:30 leave to walk home with Ame, Hael, Anel and Soma… convince Soma that we truly enjoy the walk and not to worry so much…
6:00 take pictures, marvel at African sunsets, practice Setswana with Soma, greet neighbors, reminisce about American food and social lives
6:30 return home, greet mother and neighbors in formal Setswana, kiss babies
6:35 dance with family to American pop while helping mother prepare for dinner
7:00 eat starch, veg and beans while struggling to participate in family Setswana chatter
7:30 wash dishes with Naillil under the stars, avoid hungry chickens and dogs in yard
8:00 wish family goodnight, heat water and take bucket bath
8:30 crunches, Setswana, journal
10:00 pray for call from home
11:00 pray for good sleep without malaria-med nightmares
11:30 drift off to rooster crows, dog barks and neighborhood stereos


Scott M. said...

Linnea and I are reading your blogs together... how exactly do you pronounce Anel (haha).

Linnea said...

Jess... I love it. You are totally taking me back to Africa. And I don't miss bucket showers one bit!!! But everything you describe is exactly everything I miss about Africa. You mentioned something in an earlier post about poverty... the joy in Africa outweighs the poverty. You'll have a great 2 years! Just don't say yes to any proposals!