The opinions expressed in this blog are mine, and mine alone. They do not represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On the Road to Staging

The fact that I will be spending the next two years of my life in Botswana becomes more real each day. I'm nervous because I still have to do some last-minute shopping and my bags aren't packed yet. There are also a lot of unknowns, which is part of the reason this is such an amazing process. I don't know where I will be living for two years. I don't know exactly what I will be doing. And I am so excited for that. No expectations. The idea is just to go in with an open mind, some patience, and a sense of humor.

Although I am sad to say goodbye to everyone, I feel ready to start this adventure. There is nothing else I could imagine doing at this point in my life. A couple days ago I received the last Peace Corps email before Staging. It included the "Bridge to Pre-Service Training" and information for family and friends about our stay in Botswana.

We spend the first four days in Botswana in a hotel in Gabarone, the capital. During this time, we learn skills to adapt to living with a Setswana family and attend a welcome dinner with "high level project partners and representatives of the US embassy." On April 7th, we go to Kanye, where we are matched with our homestay families. Kanye is about an hour outside of Gabarone. Although it is a large village, there is no guarantee of having internet access during training. That means I may not be able to get online at all for the first two months.

The best way to reach me during the first two months, then, is by regular mail. Mail in Botswana is pretty reliable, according to the Peace Corps. Volunteers mostly receive packages 2-4 weeks after they are sent. So if you want me to receive a letter shortly after arriving, send now! :)

If you are thinking about sending something, here are some tips:

1. Use a padded envelope rather than a box if you are sending more than just a letter. Boxes are taxed more frequently.
2. Number your letters so I know if something has not arrived.
3. Write my address in red ink. That is often used for official government correspondence and is less likely to be searched or taken.
4. Write "Sister Amelia Plant." I found this advice from a book I read called "An Insider's Guide to the Peace Corps." This is because customs will open something less frequently if they believe it is going to a religious organization. I find this really amusing and hope that it works.

Please send things to the Peace Corps headquarters in Gabarone (address posted on the right). Once I have my placement after Pre-Service Training, I will update my contact info.

Thanks for all your love and support. I can't wait to update you all from Botswana with real stories about my experience.

1 comment:

  1. Unless things have changed (and they might have in 15 years - ah, that is a along time! but I hope they haven't changed) mail "mo Botswana" works VERY WELL. I can't speak for mail in other African countries, but I received everything that was sent to me including "boat mail" that took 2 months (when USPS had that option). Didn't want your friends and family to worry! :)