Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Only in Botswana...

As I was walking home from the Jr. Secondary School, one of the teachers stopped and asked if I wanted a ride home since it was getting dark and the school is a little ways from my house. I gladly took the ride and opened the door. As I was sliding into the front passenger seat I looked down and saw some red, orange, and black feathers on the floor. Right away I knew it was a chicken, but then the chicken moved! As I looked closer, I noticed the chicken was bound by its feet and was still alive. It must have startled me or something because the teacher asked if I was afraid of it. I slid the rest of the way into the seat, careful to place my feet as far away from the chicken's beak as possible, and said no. Then I proceeded to ask if this chicken was going to be his dinner tonight. He laughed and said no, but tomorrow he would be eating it. Then we hit a bump and then chicken was startled and flapped up and into my leg. This made me jump a little and probably emit some sort of squeal. The teacher laughed as I once again tried to get as far as away from the chicken. Guess I was slightly afraid of it, mostly because I didn't want it to peck me. The rest of the way he asked me about chickens in America. I think he was asking if they were the same size and I don't really think he understood any of my explanation about chicken farms and hormones that are injected into said chickens. Finally we were at my house and I bid him and his chicken farewell, happy to not have had my toes pecked off. He then invited me to come over to dinner the next night for some chicken. I think I will pass...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Close of Service Conference

Sorry I have been a little neglectful to this blog. The last month has been pretty busy with traveling (will talk about that in another post) and Close of Service Conference.

Last week my training group (Bots 9) was put up in the capital for a few days at the Phakalane Golf Estate Hotel for our Close of Service Conference. The hotel was by far the nicest place I have ever stayed in! The food was great, the rooms were nice, the poolside was gorgeous, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was still in Botswana. The few days were full of sessions about closing out our service, i.e. saying proper goodbyes, cooping with readjustment when we return back to the states, forms we have to fill out before we leave, reports we have to do, and going over any other administrative and medical close out procedures. The conference was to give our group one last chance to all be together, give us a sense of accomplishment for (almost) completing our service here, and go over all the things we need to do before we leave.

Dinner the first night with Sunny and Lucie

Our awesome rooms

The beautiful pool

After the first full days of session Peace Corps treated us to a game drive and braii (bbq) at the Mokolodi Game Reserve. Although over the past 2 years I have been on numerous game drives, it's always nice to get to see the wildlife and enjoy being with my fellow volunteers. We got to see a couple hyenas and a herd of giraffees, as well as impala , wildebeast, kudo, ostrich, and worthogs. I will sure miss the wildlife here. Once at the braii site we were fed an scrumptious dinner by a lake and listened to the hippos calling into the night.

The next afternoon Peace Corps hosted a formal luncheon to pay tribute to the volunteers along with VIP government officials. Former President Festus Mogae attended, which was really great because he was one of the driving forces in brining the Peace Corps Volunteers back to Botswana in 2002 (Peace Corps Volunteers had previously served  in Botswana since 1966, but left in 1997 due to the country's strong economic growth and development). Other officials in attendance were the Minister of Health, Minister of Local Government, a representative of the US Embassy,  and the National Coordinator for the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA). Many speeches were made, including ones from four volunteers about their service. It was a nice luncheon and my counterpart at the clinic, Interview, even attended to show his and Machaneng's support. Botswana press even put out radio interviews, television reports, and printed a great article about Peace Corps Botswana in Mmegi, a Botswana national newspaper, in response to this luncheon.

Former President Fetus Mogae making his speech

One of the PCV's making her speech in Setswana

Me and my counterpart Interview

One of the afternoons we had a panel of  RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers), who are residing in Gaborone, talk to us about readjustment. I really enjoyed this session. It was great to hear first hand from volunteers who had gone through similar things that we had and will go through in the near future. It was fun to hear their stories and give me a little bit of knowledge of what to expect when I get back. (Just a warning…you will be getting a weird version of me when I get back in June, bear with me and I will be back to "normal" at some point…hopefully)

 It's crazy to think that I am coming upon the completion of my service. I think back to those first days when I arrived here. I had no clue what I had gotten myself in to and now my time is almost up. There has been so much growth and changes in me and my group and it has been neat getting to witness that. 

During the conference we got to sign up for our actual Close of Service dates. I signed up for the 6th of June and just the other day I booked my ticket home. It didn't feel real until then. All this time I've been saying that I am going home soon, but now that I have a ticket that says I will be back in Ohio on June 7th. This makes it feel real.

It feels weird to be back in my village after the conference. All last week the staff kept saying "you did it! you're (almost) done! congratulations!" and then we were sent back  to our villages until June. It makes it a little difficult to be motivated to continue with the projects I had going on. I know though that my projects need to be passed on and closed out. With that, packing up, and all the paperwork I have to fill out, I will be pretty busy the next few weeks. This past week I have started letting people in my village know the exact dates when I will be leaving. I started tearing up when I was letting one of my friends know. I am super excited to be going home and to be closing this chapter of my life, but parts of me are very sad to leave. I will miss my mostswana and volunteer friends here and my cat. Saying goodbye is different here. In America when I said my goodbyes I knew in 2+ years I would be seeing them again. Here I will have to say goodbye, knowing there is a good chance I will never see them again. I am anticipating this will be very difficult to do over the next 11 or so weeks.