Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Begining's End

Yesterday we swore in as Official Peace Corps Volunteers. I stood with the group and raised my right hand and chanted the pledge of service—someone pointed out that, for most of us, this was the most serious vow we have ever taken.

The US Ambassador to Botswana gave a speech as did the previous President of Botswana. After the party I said goodbye to the other volunteers and walked home full with something that felt like sadness and excitement and nervous all mixing into one.

At home I sit in the living room with my host mother, five of my siblings, the three neighbor kids and Ame’s host mother and sister (Ame’s dad got sick back in April and she had to go home to the States). I present each of them with a photograph I’ve taken of them and wrapped in colored paper. On the backs of the photographs I wrote my favorite memories with each of them from the past 2 months. The colored envelopes are ripped open excitedly and the photos passed around the room for hours to the sound of their squealing and laughing. When the present-excitement settles down my mother leads the group in singing goodbye songs to me. My sisters jump up and begin dancing to the Motswana chants while Pel and Ara come hurtling into my lap for hugs and giggles.

Late in the night we lose electricity. I bucket bathed by candlelight and try to imagine where I’ll be in 24 hours. Will the house be finished? Will the electricity work? Will Kumakwane be out of water (again)? Will there be gas to cook? What will my first day of work be like?

The night before Hael had dreamt that her and I were walking through an enormous herd of elephants. They were stomping all around us but we where perfectly safe and not the least bit frightened.

I take this as a good omen and blow out my candle and go to sleep for the last time in Lekwapagne.

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