There is something going on here that is hard to explain.

Just a little update about what is going on with us in Botswana.

Jon has some medical concerns for the last several months. Peace Corps Botswana eventually ran out of ideas and so they sent us to our regional medical center, which is in Pretoria, SA.  Jon had a battery of tests and then surgery on his sinuses and then we were sent back to Botswana a few days later. He is still working towards getting back to 100% but it is truly challenging to navigate the health systems here (in Botswana but mostly within Peace Corps, honestly).  Obviously, Jon’s health has been a bit of a set-back but we are trying to keep up the PMA!

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(Jon’s sinuses.  You can see the left side had a little something going on with it).

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(Pretoria is such a beautiful place!)

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(This mini-lemon meringue pie might have been the panacea, he could have forgone the surgery).

The group of Volunteers who were here for one year when we arrived (Bots 14s) are all leaving, or have left, in the past couple of weeks.  It is bitter sweet to see them go.  We are super excited about what they will do next but sad to not have them here with us.  In exchange for the Bots 14s leaving we have received a new group of PCVs, the Bots 16s.  They have all been arriving at site this week, we are excited to have a new crew!

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(One of our last fun times with our favorite, Dawn.)

We have been working as much as we can, considering that much of our work is based at the school and the school schedule is wrought with exams and extended breaks.  We have been able to get an after school club started, which has been a goal since shortly after we arrived.  The club has been really fun and a great experience for us (hopefully the kids, too).  We started with a survey to assess their attitudes about a topics such as relationships, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and gender based violence. The results were really eye opening and have given us a starting point for conversations and activities with the students.  Jon and I have been co-teaching all of my classes at the school so there is continuity in curriculum, it has worked out well and is one of the most fun work things that we do.  I have attended a few workshops.  The most interesting one was hosted by the Teacher’s Union and was on transsexuality and homosexuality, topics NOT ever discussed here.  Though most it was in Setswana, I learned a lot about attitudes towards those subjects here.  Mostly, I learned how attitudes are slowly starting to change as workshops like this one raise awareness.

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(A Form 5/grade 12 class).

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(Our club, Teen Talk #factsoflyf)

There is something else going on here that is hard to explain.  There is an overwhelming feeling that is sweeping across the Volunteers in my cohort (Bots 15), or at least many of us.  For each person it looks a little different and seems to be the product of slightly different circumstances but, in some way, we are all having a kind of “mid-service crisis.” Everyone is a little bit sad.  Everyone feels a loss and yearns for home.  It is a type of mourning, in a way.  We have been gone from family and friends and the comforts of home for 16+ months, but there is a long way to go.  At first Botswana was exhilarating and the newness of it all carried us through some tough times.  Now it has settled in a bit, or a lot, and the excitement has worn off in some ways. We are coming to terms with the fact that although we are bold adventure takers, we are vulnerable and lonely. We are realizing that our big vision of work might not all come to fruition. We are seeing that some of our disappointments might remain permanent and there might not be much that we can do about it.   We are becoming more realistic in many ways, questioning the systems even more, but becoming increasingly frustrated that we are here to work within them (for the most part). Sometimes we resign to those frustrations because it is tiring trying to work against them, and that feels defeating. Some days are very tough.  We can only create small change and we need to realize this, but we also need to realize how important that is. We will get through this feeling and come out the other end with a greater sense of understanding of ourselves.  We are all bold adventure takers who care about Botswana and our work here and love it all very much.  We will all be OK.

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