WARNING: This post is seriously boring

Jon said this is way too boring to post but I figured maybe someone would be interested in my interpretation of work here.

We talk a lot about our life here but don’t mention work specifically very much. We garden, hike, cook, yoga, play with the neighborhood kids and plan trips. Life is pretty killer for sure. What about the work? Isn’t that what we are here for? Yes and no. The thing is that in the Peace Corps the definition of work is rather broad and encompasses a lot that is based in our day to day life, the cultural exchange. Technically, we are working every time we are out of the house interacting with our communities. Technically, we are working every time we are talking to our loved ones at home about Botswana. This blog post is work, technically, and is reportable on our end of the quarter reports. Peace Corps has three goals. One of them involves the traditional definition of work. The other two are the symbiotic cultural exchange between us, our home country and our host country.

We have been here for over 5 months and we are just getting started on tangible work and let me explain why. We started with 2+ months of training, we didn’t “work” then. Currently we are ending our 3 month Community Assessment period (known to PCVs as Lock Down). The CA period is a time to evaluate needs and wants of the community to determine how they match our skills and interests to determine what we will do for the next two years. Technically, we aren’t expected to do any work until after the CA period ends (February 2nd). Then, what kind of work each PCV does is very personal, though it is based on our assigned sectors.

There are 4 sectors in PC Botswana. There is NGO, Clinic Health Team, Local Government, and Life Skills. I am assigned to Life Skills (Jon is Local Government). That means that my main assignment is in a school, teaching Life Skills (LS) to students in some capacity. LS are a series of curriculum taught to all school children in Botswana starting in primary (elementary) school. They focus on a variety of topics to increase the likelihood that students will be healthy and successful. The topics vary from sexual health to effective study habits. As a LS volunteer I am paired up with a Guidance and Counseling teacher in the school. Many LS volunteers co-teach Guidance and Counseling (G&C) classes.  G&C classes are taught in all Botswana schools and basically cover all LS topics. I should mention that all teachers, in all subjects, are taught LS and are expected to “infuse” LS into all subjects, not just Guidance classes.So as a LS PCV you can basically do what you want, based on your skills and interests, as well as the school’s need, as long as you are teaching LS in some way.

Based on my particular school, it is a senior secondary school (high school), I have been teaching G&C classes. I should be co-teaching but my counterpart, um, likes me to teach in my own way without him getting in the way, so I am on my own. This term, Term 1, I will be assigned approximately 14 classes per week to teach on my own. There are 2 other G&C teachers, we each get 1/3rd of the classes. In addition, at the school, Jon and I are planning on doing a Girls and Boys group to more intimately discuss issues. It will be an after school club. I am pretty excited to work on that with him. I am at the school up to 3 days per week. On the days that I am not there the other teachers will teach my classes. Where am I the other days?

My second assignment is working at the Regional Education Center (REC). I am scheduled to be there 2 days per week. At the REC I am paired up with the Educational Psychologist to do special needs assessments. So far, I have just been observing the assessments and consulting on the cases. Eventually I will write behavior treatment plans and do teacher/parent training for those assessed with behavioral challenges (most people who are assessed have learning disabilities but are pretty perfect behaviorally, so far). The assessments are largely in Setswana so it is very challenging for me. In addition to assessments we will do teacher/staff and parent trainings. One piece of work that I have already done is that I co-facilitated a 3 day workshop for the parents and staff of a program for learners with autism. I presented and co-presented with the only other BCBA in Botswana. Pretty freaking awesome!

Those two assignments were officially given to me by PC. My third is one that I actively pursued on my own. Starting with 2 days per month I will be working at Camphill Trust Botswana which is an NGO serving individuals with autism and developmental disabilities in residential, educational and vocational settings (sounds familiar). I will be there just 2 days per month to start because it is a few villages away from me and I will have to spend the night when I work there. I also don’t want to overextend myself or make commitments that I can’t keep so I am starting slow. This is an incredible opportunity for me to help write and revise trainings, revise the IHP process, write and revise behavior plans and related systems, train staff, etc. etc.! I get to be a BCBA and, again, I get to work with the only other BCBA in Botswana. I start there this week.

I am sure each PCV would explain the processes by which we determine our work plans differently, this is just my take so far.  Remember, I haven’t technically started to work yet.

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Students at the school.  Short ties are major here.

 

 

 

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