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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Settling In

Although we were matched with our homestay families on Thursday, I feel like I have lived here for months. I couldn’t imagine being in a better situation. My Motswana mother (Mama) is 30 years old. She speaks English and lives with her parents, her two small children, ages 4 and 1, as well as her nephew, age 3. The grandmother and grandfather do not speak English, which I like. That way I can just hear Setswana between them and try to piece it together.

Being with the kids is amazing. The little girl is the most hardworking four-year-old I have ever seen. She helps me do the dishes, sweeps with her mom, serves the family food…you name it, she chips in. The kids are so much fun. Of course it means that all of my Setswana flash cards have scribbles on them, but I love it.

I am not only learning to be a real Motswana woman in terms of household duties. Mama is teaching me Setswana. I also have a Setswana name – Nnete. It means truth. Mama throws at least 30 words at me per day. I have piles and piles of flash cards. She knows I can’t learn them all right away and that’s okay, but my pronunciation is better and my vocabulary has increased tenfold, even in these last two days.

She also takes me around the town with her, which is great. We have taken a walk everyday. Mama makes me greet everyone I see, which is great for my Setswana and getting over the discomfort of approaching people I don’t know. It was intimidating because of my lack of Setswana skills, but everyone is so friendly. I have been proposed to multiple times. I am learning new ways of how to say no to that, but it is tricky, especially when the man in question lives in the area and you don’t want to offend anyone.

All in all, life in Botswana is great so far. I know this homestay situation is making the transition a lot easier, especially since we have running water and a toilet in the house. I have been taking bucket baths, though, so that is a change. I think the gradual change in living style has been helpful rather than shocking me with no running water or electricity right away.

One other point – notice the change in my address on the right hand side. It is no longer “PO Box,” but rather, “Private Bag.” Apparently there is a distinction so I don’t want any letters to be lost in the mail, if possible! By the way, when it is 80 degrees in the sun, the grandmother says it is cold. Love you all. I hope life is going well for all of you.


  1. Hi Amelia. Well how wonderful is your life!!! And I get to experience it with you through your writing. Fabulous. Will you stay where you are now? Or move soon? I probably should read all that you've posted so far, but this is the first time I've checked in and I'm too excited. I'll watch more often in the future I hope. Keep the faith. Kevin

  2. Thanks so much, Kevin! It is great to hear from you. I will be staying in Kanye for two months. End of the first week of June, we head to our sites. I have no idea where I will be yet, but will definitely update as things are happening.

  3. Hi Honey, Well, this is my third try to post something here for you. I'm not a techie by any stretch but I'm trying.. Hope it finally posts. It's wonderful to be able to keep up with your adventure. What is the house like where you're staying now? How big is the town? What do you eat? How do they dress? I, of course, loved the open toe shoe story.. My kind of girl.. tee hee..
    Can we send you stuff in that 'private bag' or just letters? I think of you every day and send you lots of love. This is just thrilling.. xoxo C.J.

  4. I forgot, what are you doing up at 4:13 in the morning anyway? xoxo

  5. I am glad the post worked, CJ! The town of Kanye has 60,000 people, relatively large for Botswana, which has 1.8 million people in the entire country. The house I stay in is beautiful. I hope to be able to post pictures of it soon. We have electricity and running water, although the water is not hot straight from the tap. I have my own comfortably-sized room.

    They definitely dress more conservatively than we do in the states. Women wear nice dresses/skirts/heels to work. I did not bring heels, but I have nicer flats. No one really wears things shorter than knee length. All of the older women cover their hair with nice scarves.

    In terms of eating, there is something called phaletshe, which is made from maize meal. We eat that with morogo wa dinawa, which is the leaves from beans. Every family grows things themselves and has a post where all of their cattle is kept. It is definitely different.

  6. And the private bag can accept anything! Letters, name it!

  7. Hi honey – this is a late post to this entry – but love the account of Flora taking you through the city – 60,000 is good sized anywhere – great that CJ and Kevin are reading – feel you are making life long friends there Amelia – please pass on to Flora our love and regards - Dad

  8. Amelia-You don't know me, but a friend is in the Peace Corps in Bots and I love hearing about the people and your experiences with them.,and it helps me understand better what it's like there. Thanks for sharing Please keep posting! :-)

  9. I am so happy that you found my blog and are enjoying it, Shannon. Thanks for the feedback!