Saturday, May 19, 2012

After all the anticipation

After years of patience with the Peace Corps application process, I have FINALLY found out where I will be serving for the next two years. The whole week seemed to drag on forever due to our anxiety and anticipation. On Friday afternoon, Peace Corps staff revealed all of the site placements for the Botswana 12 trainee group. When we entered the room, there was a large map of Botswana with small tabs all over indicating where a volunteer would be placed. Each volunteer received a name card with a number on the back. I was number 43… and so you wait in anticipation. They randomly called out volunteers in different districts and called you up by your number, allowing you to announce to the group where you had been placed. At that point, you put a picture of yourself where your new home will be located.

I am pleased to announce that I will be serving in KANG, BOTSWANA.

Kang is located in the Kgalagadi district in western Botswana. I am south of the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve, which happens to be the second largest game reserve in the world. I am smack dab in the middle of the desert, so I am starting to prepare myself for that! In terms of population, I can’t find any sort of accurate number but locals keep telling me it’s a few thousand people. There is currently one volunteer serving in Kang as a life skills volunteer. She is 65 years old and she works in the schools to teach life skills to the children in the community. I am unsure of exactly what her job responsibilities include because no one in my training group is a life skills volunteer, we are all serving in other areas. I am the first community capacity builder in Kang and I will be the first to serve in a clinic. There is only one secondary school (similar to high schools back home) in the Kgalagadi district and it happens to be in Kang (hurray!). From my understanding, there are about 1,400 students and 85% of them are boarded in Kang to attend school there. I am hoping to work with the other volunteer and get involved with the schools there too. Yay  for working with the kiddos :o)

As far as housing goes, I still have not received any information about where I will be living. I am meeting with my counterpart next week to discuss my role within the clinic and community, so hopefully I will know more about my project and housing at that point. I do not know much more than what I have described because I will be blazing my own trail with this CCB position in Kang. My fears about having to replace an incredible/terrible volunteer have now been calmed & I am looking forward to creating a name for myself at the clinic. 

Other volunteers are clustered around the country and they are very close to one another. The six of us in my new language group are the most isolated out of the trainee group; it really looks funny on the map. My closest friend here will be in the same district as me, but she is still hours away by bus. Not so bad, but it will be a challenge to be as isolated as we are in comparison to other volunteers. Regardless, I am very excited and I haven’t heard many bad things about Kang. My host father used to spend time there and he said that people from Kang are very proud of their community and they are very understanding and involved. Could I have asked for more? Oh, also, Kang is along the main road which means transportation in/out of the village will be relatively easy. PC staff made sure that I will have access to food I can eat in Kang and if I really need to get to a bigger shopper village, I can go every other week to buy local produce. Another plus is that I’ve heard gardening is ideal in my community! 

It’s wonderful to FINALLY know where I will be going after all of this time. The trainees were talking about how long we’ve been waiting to hear our site placement and how many years we have been waiting for this day to come! Some people were really disappointed in their site placement, but I’ve learned that by having no expectations you can limit your disappointment. I am really pleased about my site and all that I’ve heard about the community, I will learn more about it next week. 

Other updates…
  • It is COLD here. No one back home seems to believe me, but nights/mornings feel incredibly chilly. I’ve been told it is getting down to about 40 degrees at night, which to all of you doesn’t sound so bad. However, try living in a house with no heat, no insulation, and windows that don’t seal all the way shut. I’m quite thankful for my long underwear and sleeping bag! June & July are supposed to get colder. And yes, I admit that I am kind of a whimp about the cold, but OTHER PEOPLE think it is cold too :o)
  • Internet is now available for us to use at school, but I say that and it still makes me laugh. It’s not reliable at all because the network and/or the electricity goes out quite often.
  • Six weeks done, less than four to go until I move to Kang. Time is flying by! Missing you all dearly…I will try to upload pictures soon if possible!!
Love & Light,

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